The Flute

Rachna Gilmore, illus. by Pulak Biswas. Tradewind (Orca, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-896580-57-9
Calling to mind natural disasters that have befallen Asia in recent years—the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, flooding in Pakistan—Gilmore (The Sower of Tales) tells a story that grows grim before it gets better. Its subject, Chandra, endures tragedies tempered by Biswas’s gently shaded charcoal drawings, accented with bright blue and red. Chandra’s mother places her in a tree when the floods come and gives the girl her precious flute to keep; Chandra never sees her parents again. Yet the flute—the symbol of her mother’s undying love—provides her with food after her cruel aunt and uncle withhold it (“a plantain leaf appeared, laden with rice, lentils and eggplant”). It plays music to comfort her, delivers monsoon rains at just the right moment, then saves her from another flood (“It was a rope, tight and strong. Chandra pulled herself along it, with the flute urging her on”). Chandra is a strong yet realistically vulnerable figure who withstands adversity without appearing too saintly, while the magic that saves her offers some compensation for the misfortune she has suffered. Ages 3–6. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Children's
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