________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 24 . . . . February 24, 2012


The Rumor.

Anushka Ravishankar. Illustrated by Kanyika Kini.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-280-6.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g’s.



“Gangu,” whispered Pandurang hoarsely, “the strangest thing happened today.”

“What?” said Gangubai.

“I was coming from the town
From the town,
From the town,
It was warm and beautiful weather.
When suddenly I coughed –
Cough! Cough!
Cough! Cough!
And out came a white, downy feather!”

Set in the village of Baddbaddpur in the Sahyadri mountains, The Rumor by Anushka Ravishankar, is about a place where people gossip and tell tall tales. Most of the villagers grew delicious fruits and vegetables and were happy and prosperous, with the exception of Pandurang. He was an ill-tempered man and always grumpy. No one has ever seen him smile. Unlike everyone else in the village, he did not gossip or joke, and all the villagers stayed away from him.

internal art      One day, Pandurang has a coughing fit…and out comes a feather! This was, of course, very peculiar. He told his wife, Gangubai. Although she promised not to tell anyone, she went to see her neighbor and best friend, Sakhubai. She told Sakhubai Pandurang’s story, but instead of a feather, it was now a bird that came out Pandurang’ mouth. As all things with rumours, it quickly spreads. Very soon the whole village is intrigued by all the amazing things Pandurang can cough out of his mouth. But…will the villagers overlook Pandurang’s temperament and see for themselves? How strong is their curiosity? What will happen now that the rumour has gotten out of hand?

      Anushka Ravishankar started her writing career because she wanted to find good Indian children’s picture books for her daughter. Known for nonsense prose and poetry, Ravishankar demonstrates this difficult genre to the fullest extent. The Rumor is a brilliantly written tale of the village of Baddbaddpur where people tell tales “so tall … they would reach the stars” (jacket cover). This hilarious tale about the nature of rumours contains appeal to audience of all ages. Older children will understand the cautionary and didactic aspect of the story while younger children will enjoy a funny story. Combining elements of humour and nonsense into an Indian tale, along with Anushka Ravishankar’s wonderful verse writing, this cautionary tale of rumours is a fun and enjoyable read for any child or parent.

      They are also the most likely to roll their eyes at such a two-dimensional character and preachy plot. While Freddie's age and grade are never specified, it is clear that she is old enough that this can't have been her first lie. That the lie is as harmless as knocking over a new guitar hardly lends any gravitas to the situation. Surely monsters would only manifest themselves during a moral dilemma with grey areas, the kind of moral dilemmas that tweens actually face.

Highly Recommended.

Barb Janicek is a Children's Librarian with Kitchener Public Library, in Kitchener, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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