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ROBI DOBI by Madhur Jaffrey


The Marvelous Adventures of an Indian Elephant

by Madhur Jaffrey & illustrated by Amanda Hall

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8037-2193-5
Publisher: Dial

 Jaffrey (Market Days, 1995, etc.) presents a cycle of adventures in which Robi Dobi, an Indian elephant, benevolently allows small, troubled creatures to come into his ear where it is warm and safe and to venture forth with him to resolve their problems. First he meets Kabbi Wahabbi, a mouse spray-painted bright orange by the wicked snake-witch Slimy Kimey; then Maya Wishkaya, a butterfly dancer whose ambition has landed her with a bum wing; and finally, some green parrots, intent on rescuing their Princess Tara from the Wicked Purple Panthers. After a tantalizing preface about Jaffrey's childhood in India comes melodramatic, cliff-hanging events that are reminiscent, in their derring-do, of George Lucas's interpretations of horse opera, although without a smidge of informing philosophy, or a real sense of the setting and characters. A typographical error tips the tale into the surreal: Having never before referred to himself in the third person, Robi says, ``Let's go. Maya and Robi, you stay in my ear.'' Among the bright spots in this blancmange of intrepidity is Kabbi Wahabbi's witty reiteration of his situational equivocation``If I wasn't orange, if I wasn't so far from home, and if I wasn't worrying about my family, I would really enjoy this.'' (Whatever happened to the subjunctive?) Hall's truly magnificent illustrations work overtime against the precious text to personalize the sweep and swirl of the world of these exotic animals. (Fiction. 8-10)