Under the Great Plum Tree

Under the Great Plum Tree
Sufiya Ahmed and Reza Dalvand
Tiny Owl

This is a new addition to Tiny Owl’s smashing One Story, Many Voices series.

I felt very pleased with myself for realising as I started reading that the names of the two main characters in Sufiya Ahmed’s version of an Indian fable from the Panchatrantra are the Hindi for monkey and crocodile, only to find on finishing the book a note at the back saying just that. Still it didn’t say that hati is Hindi for elephant!

Now let me introduce the two characters who have formed a rather unlikely friendship under a plum tree in their jungle home. There’s the always kind-hearted Miss Bandari and well past his hunting days crocodile, Mr Magarmach.

The latter regales Miss Bandari with his tales of days gone by but one day instead of his regular story, he invites his friend to lunch as repayment for all her kindness.

That’s an offer too good to turn down so Miss Bandari leaps onto Mr Magarmach’s back and off they go down the river.

After a while they encounter Dame Hati who warns of a terrible danger that awaits should they proceed: the always hungry King Crocodile no less.

Now this troubles Miss Bandari but Mr Magarmuch assures her that King Crocodile wants only to see her big golden heart.

Luckily Dame Hati has her wits about her

and assists Miss Bandari in avoiding a terrible fate.

But the result is that the long-standing friendship between Miss Bandari and Mr Magarmach is tested close to its limits.

Fortunately though the latter’s courage prevails when King Crocodile’s true intentions are revealed and all ends happily.

Sufiya Ahmed’s lively rendition is a great read aloud, while reminiscent of Gujarati Pithora art, Reza Dalvand’s stylised, multi-patterned illustrations flow freely over the pages seducing the eye, making the entire reading experience an absolute delight for audiences and those sharing the book.

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