Sita’s Ramayana

Samhita Arni, illus. by Moyna Chitrakar. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $24.95 (152p) ISBN 978-1-55498-145-8
The Ramayana, one of India’s ancient epics, like the Iliad, features two kingdoms at war over a beautiful queen. Arni (The Mahabharatha: A Child’s View) gives that queen a voice. Sita, imprisoned in a garden with demons for guards, hears reports of the battles between her husband’s allies and those of her abductor, but they bring little satisfaction. Instead, she questions the glory of male heroism: “War, in some ways, is merciful to men.... But if you are a woman... you become the mother of dead sons, a widow, or an orphan; or worse, a prisoner.” The fantastic creatures of the epic appear as in the original—the snake-eating bird-deity Garuda, the form-changing monkey hero Hanuman, the animals who build a gigantic bridge over the ocean—but their deeds are tinged with sadness. Chitrakar’s (Tsunami) traditional Bengali figures, with their static poses and staring eyes, are energized by dynamic, graphic novel–style panel layouts, but they’re unlikely by themselves to draw young readers, who may struggle with the story’s complexity. Nonetheless, Arni’s retelling is a moving and important one. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Hardcover - 152 pages - 978-93-80340-03-6
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