Lakshmi, a pauranika (trained storyteller versed in the ancient Hindu epics), lives in a village in southern India and narrates legends and folk tales from various Hindu epics to its children.
Text boxes tinged with gray describe Lakshmi’s contemporary daily life. Interspersed on white-backgrounded pages are the stories she tells: authentic adaptions of well-known tales from Hindu mythology depicting the values, traditions, and culture of ancient India. These include a lively variety of gods and asuras (demons), fearless warriors, wise sages, arrogant kings, and clever children. Although the connections from story to story are bumpy, resulting in a fragmented feel, Lakshmi passes on life values, moral messages, and spiritual instruction as she recounts the drama of various incarnations of the gods and the constant fight of good against evil. A few full-page color illustrations authentically depict the dark-skinned heroes and villains of these stories, and a small, color illustration brightens the start of every new chapter. Some unfamiliar aspects of Hindu culture and society, such as the caste system that found Dalits at the bottom, and churning yogurt into butter by hand, are briefly explained. However, while some stories have distinct, easy-to-comprehend morals, others rely on an understanding of the concepts and philosophy of Hinduism that may be beyond a child audience.
The co-authors struggle with only limited success to bring a variety of memorable stories of Hindu mythology together into one cohesive tale. (authors’ note, story notes and sources, glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-14)