Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Review : All Free

Title : All Free (a folktale from Gujarat)
Author : Mamata Pandey
Illustrated by : Srividya Natarajan
Publisher : Tulika (Under the Banyan series)

The story starts with Bhikhubhai's heart craving for fresh, juicy, delicious, grated coconut but there is a small problem - he will have to part with a little money which he would rather not. He does not mind walking some extra distance if he could get a coconut at a reduced price and what a blessing if he could get as many coconuts as he wants from the coconut grove itself - ALL FREE!!!
Too good an offer to be actually true.

But for that he would have to climb the tree himself to satisfy his specific requirement of not spending a single paisa but getting to enjoy the coconuts. So Bhikhubhai decides to climb the tall tree and in an attempt to grab the biggest fruit, does his foot slip? And he finds himself hanging from the fruit of his desire. Another man comes and hangs onto the feet of Bhikhubahi and to make the matter even more interesting one more man joins the chain by holding onto the feet of the person below Bhikhubhai. Now there are three men hanging from the big fruit, swinging in the air. In order to save their dear lives, the two men want Bhikhubhai to not leave the coconut and what happens when Bhikhubahi is offered a reward of three hundred rupees for providing this service?? Can he keep focusing on holding the coconut tight when his mind is thinking about the unbelievable - getting coconuts and three hundred rupees - all free?

Simply a laugh riot.

The illustrations by Srividya are influenced by the Garoda (story tellers of Gujarat) style of folk art. Beautiful figures in bright colours are accentuated with thick black outlines. Simple patterns in the illustrations depicting village scene are magnificent. Traditional tie-and-dye border on the cover page gives a glimpse of the signature art of that region.

Other titles in 'Under the Banyan Tree' series -

Mazzoo Mazzoo a folktale from Kashmir
Wrestling Mania a folktale from Punjab
Sweet and Salty a folktale from Andhra Pradesh
Eyes on the Peacock's Tail a folktale from Rajasthan
Magic Vessels a folktale from Tamilnadu
Hiss, Don't Bite ! a folktale from Bengal
A Curly Tale a folktale from Bihar

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