Aug 082023
Vikram & Betal – a refreshing retelling of the popular anthology [Review]
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Book title: ‘Vikram & Betal’- Life Lessons for Our Times
Author: Neelam Kumar
Illustrator: Shalini Soni Mazumdar
Publisher: Wonder House Books
Type: Hardcover
No. of Pages: 80 pages
Age: 12 years onwards

There are timeless tales which get passed down centuries purely due to their wisdom, wit and wonder! The tales of Vikram & Betal is one such collection of stories which have enlightened and entertained numerous generations.

This collection of stories retold masterfully by Neelam Kumar consists of ten stories which weave philosophy, righteousness and intellect.

We are introduced to virtuous King Vikramaditya who agrees to capture a mischievous but morally upright ghost, Betal, under seemingly paradoxical conditions!

As King Vikram captures Betal and hauls him over his shoulder, Betal narrates a tale and presents thought-provoking questions about the moral of the story.

The author has crafted each tale in a refreshing and engaging manner using eloquent and rich language. With the author also being a Life Skills Coach, each story ends with a ‘Life Skills Nugget’ which encourages the reader to think critically over the ‘grey zones’ of life.

With vibrant and realistic illustrations by the talented, Shalini Soni Mazumdar, this book is bound to engage the young reader to ruminate over King Vikram’s conundrums!!

If I were to choose a favourite story, it would be the story about King Roopsen and Birbar: where you have to debate about whose sacrifice is greater.

To me, the biggest takeaway is the insightful retelling of the seemingly familiar tales along with with the wonderful ‘Life Skills Nugget’ which made me mull over various things in the story and in life!

Note: The climax of the anthology concludes with King Vikramaditya approaching the tantric in the graveyard. This conclusion has some graphic illustrations and mention of decapitation (parental discretion advised). However the other illustrations and text aren’t graphic or violent in their description.

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Disclaimer: Sowmya is a part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

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