Have you been hunting for interesting books for your children? If so, please take time out to read 'Parvati the Elephant's Very Important Day'.
What makes a good book cover for a children’s book? An eye-catching composition, a strong focal point and an apt title that explains what lies within, according to popular opinion.
'Parvati the Elephant’s Very Important Day' boasts of a cover image that ‘covers’ all these guidelines perfectly. A smiley elephant with a beatific smile, wearing an ornate ‘nettipattam’, (the ornamental head covering) a few decorative silk umbrellas and flowers dotting the page reminiscent of a grand Kerala Pooram draw the reader into the excitement of the festival. The illustrations meander across to the back cover, along with the succinct blurb.
The narrative is simple, written in rhyming verse, as it describes a day in the life of a temple elephant, Parvati, who is elated to be part of the temple festivities. It is an important occasion, the day when the Royal family is expected to come to town. Her excitement rises as she dons her ‘tinkling bells’, ‘long necklaces of silver’ and the ‘nettipattam’, all traditionally worn by elephants on festival days. She also looks forward to her special lunch of bananas and sugarcane.
What makes this narrative come alive is the way the author has used the Malayalam equivalents of the various instruments used in the panchavadyam (the orchestra of five instruments) along with the descriptions of the adornments that enhance the occasion.
Parvati’s heart swells with pride as she is to lead the procession, carrying the replica of the deity around the temple, a moment of great honour. The celebration ends with a display of fireworks, the culmination of a joyous day as Parvati goes home, her task performed with precision and dedication.
The glorious illustrations by Tanaya Vyas add immense value to this book which is a must-read for children and adults. The feeling of pride that Parvati experiences is envisioned in every expression of hers. The exuberance of the artwork, the colours used and their evocative feel go perfectly with the expressive narrative.
This book is not only a delightful read, but also offers much insight into the intricacies of a temple festival. The blurb proclaims, “We hope this story will remind children and adult readers of the beauty and majesty of elephants and their value to our world.”
As Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan herself puts it, “With this story I wanted to showcase the colour, sounds, and pulsing feel of Indian festivals as well as look at a day in the life of a temple elephant, since elephants are such an integral part of the festival processions.” There is no doubt that she has succeeded magnificently.
Publishers: HarperCollins Children’s Books