traveling by gourd to grandma’s house

30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aDay Twenty-Seven: Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale

retold by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illus. Susy Pilgrim Waters

a Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press) 2013

grandma and the great gourd cover“On her way to visit her daughter on the other side of the jungle, Grandma encounters a hungry fox, bear, and tiger, and although she convinces them to wait for her return trip, she still must find a way to outwit them all.” (summary).

Divakaruni is a renowned poet and storyteller. The text is rhythmic and precise, touched here and there with sound effects that make the story a lively and textured telling. Then there is the repetition in phrases, so politely spoken. The folktale is a delightful tale of wit, and adventure: “Grandma missed her daughter, too, and decided to visit her. She was a little scared about traveling through the jungle where so many fierce animals lived. But then she said, ‘What’s life without a little adventure?'”

grandma and the great gourdThe story celebrates life and family–family that includes loyal companions like Kalu and Bhulu. I also like the fierce and independent grandmother figure who is loved and lively and beneficial. She is witty and self-confident but also relies on her family and friends.

grandma susy-pilgrim-waters-grandma-2-


While an illustrator, designer, and painter, Grandma and the Great Gourd is Susy Pilgrim Waters’ first picture book. She is an inspired choice for this folktale.  Her illustrations layer texture and color and distinct patterns. The landscapes are often representational rather than an attempt to imitate actual settings. The work takes on a rich tone, keeping good company with Kivakaruni’s text.

grandma lg_book_03

Grandma and the Great Gourd is a wonderful tale and beautifully rendered by Divakaruni and Waters. You should be filling your young person’s ears with fables, folktales, the Grimm-like, and the Faerie.* If you’ve yet to get started, begin here.

{images belong to Susy Pilgrim Waters}

* ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’ -Albert Einstein.

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

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