Title: Fantastic Creatures In Mythology
Author: Bulbul Sharma
Illustrator: Upamanyu Bhattacharyya
Age group: 8-12 years
Publication: Puffin Books
Page count: 106
Fantastic Creatures in Mythology is like a ready reckoner for mythology lovers to delve into the lives of handpicked Hindu mythological creatures with a sense of wonder.
The author has brought out vivid descriptions and stories revolving around the mythological creatures in lucid language for children to comprehend easily.
As someone who has grown up hearing mythological stories and having read in books too, my daughter (Miss. M) took to the book with much eagerness and excitement. She has never read a book that would talk only about mythological creatures and this made her like the book more.
She was amazed at the magical powers these creatures possessed and how each was powerful in its own way.
The fact that the evil, how much ever powerful, was always defeated by unimaginable plots fascinated her even more.
She particularly liked the story of Ilvala & Vatapi as this was the first time she heard about them. She developed a soft corner for Vatapi so much so that she disliked the sketch of Vatapi being troubled by Ilvala. On the whole, she found the book to be magical.
The cover image with the sketch of all the creatures in it is simply brilliant. The illustrator has done an amazing job giving it a feel of a puzzle. Kids may enjoy discovering the hidden creatures on a closer look.
Also, these stories help us shed prejudices that we associate with looks. A creature can disguise in enchanting looks and be evil at heart, like Maricha while a creature looking mighty and terrifying, like Jambavana, can be kind at heart.
Had the book covered just creatures from Purana or just from Ramayana at a time with a brief introduction regarding the era of happening and the context around, it would have given deeper perspectives.
Mythology can be viewed as just some fascinating collection of magical stories or looked beyond the stories for philosophical values and underlying truth.
I would recommend this book for children ages 8 and above, preferably with a prior (not necessarily in depth) knowledge of Hindu mythology.
P.S. This book reminded me of an instance that I would like to mention here. One night when my daughter & I took a stroll on our terrace she came up with a story. The story was about a dragon and just at the mention of a dragon, I imagined a giant, fierce-looking dragon breathing fire ready to destroy everything around.
But to my astonishment, she continued with her story saying it’s a cute small dragon and had lost its parents. It was crying and had come to earth on a U.F.O. in search of its lost parents, and that we need to help him find his parents! For a moment I was stunned by her imagination and also the preconceived notion that I had. Thank God that I didn’t let my prejudices come in her way and just let her speak.
Having said that, I would like to leave you with the following words taken from Devdutt Patnaik’s Olympus (an Indian retelling of the Greek myths):
Within infinite myths lies an eternal truth Who sees it all? Varuna has but a thousand eyes Indra a hundred You and I, only two.
Disclaimer: We got this book as part of #kbcReviewerSquad and we feel happy and privileged to be part of it as we are free to have our opinions and give an honest review of the book.
Happy Happy Reading!
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