________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 13 . . . . February 26, 1999

cover Karadi Tales:
The Blue Jackal (Side A)
The Foolish Lion (Side B)

Shobha Viswanath (script and narration), Naseeruddin Shah (illus.), Narayan Parasuram (music), Prakash Shetty (background score).

Adyar, Madras: Sky Music (India) Pvt. Ltd. (Distributed in Canada by The Banyan Tree, 2355 Fifth Line West, Unit 46, Mississauga, ON, L5K 2M8, 1-888-468-0334), 1996.
26 pp., (Foolish Lion), 22 pp., (Blue Jackal), paper, audiotape (48 min.), $17.99.
ISBN 81-86838-02-3 (Foolish Lion);
ISBN 81-86838-01-5 (Blue Jackal).
ISBN 81-86838-00-7 (combined).

Subject Heading:

Kindergarten and up / Ages 5 and up.
Review by Irene Gordon.

**** /4

image The Blue Jackal and The Foolish Lion are two stories from Book I of the Panchatantra, a collection of fables from India written in Sanskrit about 200 BC, with authorship attributed to Pandit Vishnu Sharma. This kit, containing both oral and written versions of these stories, is intended to help children learn to read. It is suggested in the accompanying guide that children should begin by listening to the stories and enjoying the illustrations. Then, after a few hearings, the child should attempt to follow the script while listening to the story.

      While notes on the book covers recommend these stories for children ages 3 to 7, they could certainly be enjoyed by older students and also be used for a middle school unit on fables or folk tales. The reading level is about grade 7; therefore, only very advanced seven-year olds would actually be able to learn to read the stories on their own.

      The audio tapes are very well done. The voices of narrator Karadi the bear and the other animals are done by professional Indian actors. Use of sound effects and the musical soundtrack are excellent. I wonder, however, why the words of the songs were not incorporated into the text so that the children could follow them and perhaps learn to sing them. The song lyrics are included at the end of the stories and in cursive writing as opposed to print. The music is not given.

      The written versions of the stories are beautifully illustrated with colourful, very detailed and often humorous pictures. For example, Karadi, the elderly bear narrator, is pictured in The Blue Jackal with white goatee and bushy eyebrows, leaning on a cane while wearing fluffy blue bedroom slippers.

      The stories are similar in style to Aesop's fables and other traditional animal tales used to educate and amuse children. The following excerpt from The Foolish Lion tells how Chatura the hare got rid of the cruel lion Budhu by tricking him into thinking that another lion lived at the bottom of the well.

"Aha! There he is! The impostor! What an ugly looking fellow!" Budhu let out a fierce roar. From deep within, his roar echoed back. Foolish that he was, Budhu Raj was convinced that there was another lion at the bottom of the well.

"Come out you coward," Budhu yelled. Coward...coward...the well echoed back.

"He dares call me a coward. I will show him," thought Budhu. With an intention to kill the other lion, Budhu, with all his strength and fury, dived into the well. As he fell screaming to the bottom, a deathly scream echoed back. It was the most frightening sound that the jungle had ever heard. Budhu crashed to the bottom of the well and died instantly. (Page 21)

      One minor criticism is that, in several places towards the end of The Foolish Lion, quotations are not separated from the name of the speaker with commas as they should be.

Highly recommended.

Irene Gordon of Headingley, MB., is a free-lance writer and former teacher-librarian who spent 14 years working in a junior high school library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364