Kumbhakarna, courtesy his eating and sleeping habits, is quite a household name and doesn’t need any introduction. But this story is about Kukku whose favourite bedtime story is that of the slumbering giant. It is also a story of how real life imitates fantasy – or mythology in this case. The story resonates with parents who face the everyday dilemma of putting their children to bed and then waking them up in time for the school bus.
A delightful read, Junior Kumbhakarna, is a conscious effort by Arundhati Venkatesh to introduce mythology to children for she herself grew up with these stories.
The journey of waking Kumbhakarna up is laced with humour, as nothing – not donkeys braying loudly, not lively drums, not the delicious smell of motichoor laddus (quite a favorite with the author) – wakes him up.
The simple use of action words makes the book a dramatic read! The crisp storyline written with brevity adds to the charm of the story. Much credit is due to Shreya Sen, the talented illustrator of the book. A first timer in illustrating mythological stories, she has done a wonderful job! That is perhaps because she could relate to the character of Kumbhakarna.
Sen’s cute cartoons with eyeballs the size of saucers and teeth as white as snow are appealing. The vibrant colours used in different hues and shades are a lovely sight! The intricacy in her illustrations is commendable. The effort that has gone into detailing a quilt or the elephants’ howdahs or turbans of soldiers is appreciable. Even the smallest of details like the cashew nut on the laddu or the hair on Kumbhakarna’s hands and chest or the elements of a four-year-old’s forever-dirty room are well thought of. Yet I simply cannot overlook the poorly illustrated animals.
This book gave me a rush of nostalgia and reminded me of how eager I would be to listen to stories of the strong Hanuman as a child! Even after reading it 5 times in a day, I could read it just one more time. In an age where cartoon shows like Chota Bheem educate children of their colourful past, Junior Kumbhakarna is a pleasant read.
Written by Arundhati Venkatesh; Illustrated by Shreya Sen
Publisher: Tulika Books
Price: Rs 135
Sidika Sehgal, Delhi