Beautifully illustrated and exciting!
Enchanted Saarang and the six other stories are from the valleys and hills of Kashmir. The book offers an insight into the life in that part of the country through well written and beautifully illustrated stories. Based on morals and virtues, each story has a different feel to it. One can feel the adventurous Marmot’s pain when other Marmot ostracize him and children’s excitement when they receive Traamkhazaan’s gift. Karim is brave enough to take on two thieves while Gulal the pony proves a mother’s love by fighting a leopard.
The book brings alive the flora and fauna in the valley. One also gets to peer into the customs and values of its people. In the story of the Black Calf, we can see the men drinking tea and smoking. We see young boys and girls gracing cattle and their attachment to their flock.
In Drin, a Kashmiri marmot, we see the curious and adventurous Marmot explore and almost fall prey to poachers. A narrow escape from them and a forest fire later, Drin is almost rejected by the other Marmots because he still smells of the fire! The story acts as a good opening to the book and the theme. The first scene when you part the curtains, the marmots prepare for winter. “He may have been mained for life…but was also now very, very wise,” the author concludes.
In The Enchanted Saarang, Sona is seen grazing his flock when he encounters a girl chased by a demon. He needs to find her Saarang to chase away the demon. Having found the magical Saarang and rescued the girl, he is rewarded by the Naga to king for saving his daughter. In House Thieves, Karim goes after two horse-thieves to rescue Lallo from their clutches. Humza and Fazli are rewarded by the mountain for their selflessness by the mountain Traamkhazaan.
In The black calf, we see Lal Din trying to protect his pony and is in turn protected by it. Power Of Snakes, sees Roger going on an expedition to try to find treasure without heading the warning about snakes and their power and pays for it. Finally in Gulal the Kashmir Pony, we see Gulal the pony fight a leopard to rescue her foal.
The simple yet engaging style of writing has a charm of its own. Proiti Roy’s illustration are lovely, detailed and appropriate. I would say the book is fit for children of four years and above. Asha Hanley does a good job of bringing out the morals by telling the story rather than trying to drill them in.
Educative and thought-provoking, the stories show how closely the fates of people and their animals are intertwined. Entertaining and exciting, the book is a very good read.