Arshia Sattar‘s collection of 18 stories from Hindu mythology is written in the genre of retelling of the myths, as popularized by Devdutt Pattanaik. When I got Garuda and the Serpents from Juggernaut publishers, I was elated to see the beautifully illustrated cover page. The inside of the book revealed more beautiful renditions in bright colors by talented illustrator, Ishan Trivedi, who loves to bring the mythologies to life on canvas. My 11-year old son, an avid reader, was also attracted by the vibrant book cover.
The collection is a good read for children above 10 years of age and also for young adults. For more senior readers, the book is a refresher course in stories that we grown up hearing. I found a couple of myths and characters that I had not heard about. Most of the stories are from the Ramayana, while some are from the Puranas and the Mahabharata. Arshia is known for her work in the area of translating Indian epics and writing for children.
A few tales in this collection are interconnected and the footnote directs to the related story. The continuum creates a desire to read more about these myths. It is a good book for the inquisitive mind of children and young adults. It can cultivate an interest in the bountiful treasure of Hindu mythology. The illustrations add to the appeal of this paperback.
Apart from a few editing issues, I found Garuda and the Serpents to be an engaging read – perfect for a short bus ride, or a weekend. Like most mythological tales, lessons of life and ethics are woven into this book. The universe of mythology is so vast that its difficult to select just 18 tales for a compilation. Arshia’s inspiration and thought process behind selecting these stories is the theme of friends and foes. Revenge and jealousy among brothers and kin is the common string running through most of the stories.
Reader’s star rating: 3/5 and a 5/5 for the illustrations.