Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grandma and the great gourd, retold by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters

This story may be familiar to you from a previous retelling, No Dinner! by Jessica Souhami. This new, brightly colored version has quite a bit more text and would make a good read-aloud for an older audience.

Grandma loves gardening and lives all alone with her two dogs, Kalu and Bhulu. One day, she decides to visit her daughter. Along the way through the jungle, she encounters a fox, bear, and tiger all wanting to eat her. She convinces them to wait until she is on her way back; she'll taste much better after some of her daughter's cooking. Grandma and her daughter come up with a clever plan to get her safely back home; she hides in a big gourd and goes rolling home. She successfully tricks the tiger and bear, but the clever fox figures out her trick and breaks the gourd. Fortunately, Grandma still has her two loyal dogs nearby and they protect her from the fox.

The author's dedication says this story was originally told to her by her grandfather and the author bio says she was born in India. There are no other sources for the story, but it seems to be a fairly common one. I would have liked a little glossary for some of the unfamiliar words, especially a pronunciation guide for the different names, but you can figure most of them out from the context.

Susy Waters' art has a naive, primitive feel. The colors and lines are broad and bold, the backgrounds full of abstract shapes and splashy images. It looks like a variety of techniques were used in the art. Some images look like stamps or prints, while other, finer lines, are delicately layered on top of splashes of color.

Verdict: This is a little longer than I'd normally use in storytime, but it has enough repetitive phrases and interesting words to keep the attention of older preschoolers or kindergarteners. Even if you have No Dinner! I think this is worth buying to enjoy with an older audience.

ISBN: 9781596433786; Published March 2013 by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan; F&G provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library

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