Young Siddhartha renounced all worldly things in search of the ultimate truth. This is the story of his self-discovery and his path to enlightenment as he went on to become one of the world’s greatest religious leaders – Gautama Buddha.


  • Unpacking the life of the Buddha and his philosophy for young children is no mean feat and Sonia Mehta deserves congratulations for attempting such a challenging task. This is the fourth book in the Junior Lives series created for young readers to get to know our heroes better – the earlier titles being Rani Lakshmibai, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.
  • In ten chapters spanning eighty-eight pages, Mehta explains, in highly accessible language, the birth and life of Gautama Buddha, his teachings, the meaning of his name, the eclectic set of people whose lives he changed, and the symbols associated with Buddhism.
  • The writing, however, carries no spark and is reminiscent of a textbook. Which eight-year-old would willingly want to read a book on the life of the Buddha, unless the writing, the conceptualization and the illustrations are appealing?
  • The author attempts to ‘tell’ the reader a lot of information without trying to get her to think about what she is reading. Using conversation, asking thought-provoking questions, avoiding a pedantic tone of voice – these would help in making the text lively and readable.
  • Mehta fails to consider the irony inherent in certain legends.  For instance, on Page 48, we read that during the third week of meditation following his enlightenment, “the Buddha saw the devas. Not sure if they were indeed gods, he built a golden bridge in the air and walked across it to the heavens”. A child reader might wonder why the bridge had to be golden and not iron.
  • The illustrations are rather unexciting and don’t add much to the book.


The idea behind the Junior Lives series is admirable but – considering this book as a representative case – a lot more planning, conceptualization and editing needs to happen for children to want to read it, and benefit from it.


Author: Sonia Mehta
Illustrator Jitendra Mahadik
Language: English
Page Extent: 92 pages
Price: Rs 150
ISBN: 978-0-143-42824-4
Publisher: Penguin, 2018
Subject Category: Non-Fiction/Biography/Heroes/Buddha/Series
Age-group: 8+

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