Genre: Children’s books
Age range: 6-9 years
Publication date: October 4, 2020
Publisher: Rupa Publications
I’m so glad I came across this delightful book of short stories for children. Although the stories are based in Uttarakhand (India), they have a universal appeal that children will relate to. Some stories have a moral, some are full of action and adventure, some even feature ghosts!
The language is simple and the storytelling is clear and engaging. The wide variety of stories in this collection ensures that every child will find something he/she likes. Many of the stories have surprising twists that I didn’t see coming.
My favorite stories were The Snow Leopard (a wizened grandma narrating a story of her childhood), Postcard (about the relationship between a grandfather and grandson) and The Villain (about colorism and feeling confident in one’s skin).
The characters, places, and settings are described in exquisite detail so that readers can form a vivid picture in their minds. The majestic hills, the cold climate, and the natural beauty of the Himalayas come alive in these stories. I was transported back to my childhood while reading them.
I would highly recommend this collection of short stories for children to learn about life and culture in Uttarakhand and for adults to remember a simpler childhood that is now lost in the melee of digital devices and social media.
(I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review.)
A collection of seventeen short stories from Uttarakhand, the Himalayan state of northern India, invite young readers to discover the mountains, through its stories.
While the backdrop for these stories is the rustic setting in remote, high-altitude villages and towns of Uttarakhand, possibly far removed from the worlds of the readers, the central themes and characters of the stories aim to be relatable and relevant for children anywhere in the world. The endeavor is to offer children a taste of culture and tradition from the Himalayas and an appreciation for diversity.
Stories such as, ‘The bagpiper’ offer an insight into the musical history and tradition of Uttarakhand, while stories such as ‘Kaafal’ are my adaptations of local children’s folktales, passed down by oral tradition for hundreds of years.
Another highlight of the book is a story called ‘The villian’ which touches upon a very deep-rooted issue in Indian society – that of color prejudice, especially amongst young girls. The story aims to help children appreciate their uniqueness and accept their color of skin and their bodies, with pride.
The book also features two real-life characters and their stories – Gaura Devi, who pioneered the ‘Chipko movement’ (tree hugging) to set an example for forest protection across the world, and Nain Sigh Rawat, who is one of the greatest explorers and surveyors in the continent. Both real-life heroes from the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.
‘Tales from the Himalayas’ is runner-up for the Montegrappa Writing Prize 2020 at the Emirates Literature Festival (Dubai), where it was picked amongst the top 5 manuscripts in the Middle East, from 600 entries.
I also bagged the Ruskin Bond Promising Writer award for ‘Tales from the Himalayas’ at the Dehradun Literature Festival 2019 (October), where the manuscript was handpicked by Mr. Ruskin Bond, from amongst hundreds of entries by Indians across the world.
About Priyanka Pradhan
Priyanka Pradhan is a Dubai-based journalist with over 13 years of experience in television, print and electronic media, across India and the UAE. Previously, she was assistant editor for The New York Times Style Magazine (UAE and Qatar editions) and Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East in Dubai.
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18710299.Priyanka_Pradhan