ABOUT THE BOOKRemember all the raja-maharaja tales from your childhood? This is a new one, with a twist! A story for everyone who has braved the long, hot summers of India.
- It’s a warm summer afternoon, and Bela’s grandmother decides to tell her the story of how the mango came to be. The tale that follows is a wildly inventive account of how the King of Delhi bestowed the mango upon his people to help them brave the North Indian summer.
- A Summer’s Tale’s biggest strength is its easy and spontaneous use of fantasy – it feels a lot like a story that a grandparent or a parent may make up to entertain a child.
- The story is certainly original, but it is neither very gripping, nor particularly funny. Its characters – the king, his prime minister and the sun god – have a generic feel to them and are almost completely devoid of any personality. Overall, the narrative lacks flair. While the “raja-maharaja” story format may be familiar to an earlier generation of children, its use in this book seems stilted and disconnected from the contemporary context, and may well fail to strike a chord with present-day readers.
- The blurb states that the book will make “little nuggets of history come alive for your children.” However, the story is not historical, but fictional. In an age when narratives of history are often confused with fictitious narratives of myth, it is best not to present fantastical stories as in any way being based on fact.
- The book’s illustrations also leave much to be desired. The style is intended to resemble indigenous folk art forms, but instead has a vague similarity to the illustrations in school textbooks. Characters wear turbans and saris, but the style itself does not echo any kind of folk art. Some pages are too cluttered and colourful, while others are too empty and simple. Also, the illustrator is not credited in the book.