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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The roots of Asian literature have strong connections with gods and invisible forces. One such country that takes pride in this literary heritage is India. If we look back at the formation of Indian literature, we will be surprised at the diverse roles of omniscient and mythical powers that are crucial in shaping human destiny. Indian literature about gods and mysticism has long been a staple of adaptations and retellings. In Shakuntala: Stories from Grandma Book 1, author GD Singh treats young readers to a more relatable version of the classic story of Shakuntala, the wife of Dushyanta and the mother of Emperor Bharata. In this young reader’s version, Shakuntala’s tale is a story within a story. We are introduced to Missy and George, who are staying with their grandmother. Their parents had to spend a few weeks in town for business-related matters. It was not easy for the siblings to adjust, as they were unused to spending time without their mother. To keep her grandchildren entertained, Grandma tells them the story of Shakuntala.
This familiar fairy tale marketed for children is straight text in three short chapters. The arresting black and white cover art is quite inviting, capturing the essence of local Indian culture. Though the book is devoid of interior illustrations, it makes up for this with solid storytelling. Grandma has a keen eye for detail and tells the classic story of Shakuntala with vivid descriptions. Her grandchildren become such avid listeners that they barely interrupt to ask questions. This is a short chapter book that is ideal for introducing children to a timeless Indian classic.