Author: Amy Maranville
Illustrator: Tim Palin
Hanuman and the Orange sun is the re-telling of a story based on ancient Hindu lore, where Hanuman mistakes the sun for a giant mango. In this versión of the story the protagonist is Harini, a Telugo-American girl.
Harini is like any other girl; she loves chipmunks, sailboats and playing outside. One day she feels particularly hungry, and when she asks her mother for food – a lot of food – her mother sees the opportunity to tell her a story while they make lunch together. This is how Harini hears the story of Hanuman Dada for the first time, and how when he was a baby he too was very hungry, and when he saw the sun in the sky, thinking it was an orange, he jumped up, up, up, opened his mouth wide, wide, wide and CHOMP! he ate it all up!. The world became dark and the gods became angry. Indra, the king of Gods, lifted his vajra (lightening bolt) and threw it at poor Hanuman Dada and sent him back to earth with a BIG thud. His father, Vayu the Wind God, heard his son crying so he demanded an explanation. When no one answered, he decided to stop the winds and the whole earth became hot. The gods apologized to Hanuman Dada and brought him gifts. And he learned a valuable lesson, as did Harini with her mother’s story: If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything, but you must be thoughtful and use your strength well.
The book is a wonderful introduction to Hindu mythology. Hanuman is the monkey commander of the monkey army and his exploits are narrated in the great Hindu Sanskrit poem theRamayana (“Rama’s Journey”). Children will delight in this tale of a misbehaving God-monkey who eats more than his share. Eating is something children know well and they will also relate to being in trouble for being greedy. The setting – a mother telling a story while she cooks – is familiar to most toddlers as is helping with chores, such as making lunch. This story is a sweet and gentle educational opportunity for children to learn about Hinduism, while learning life’s lessons about restrain in one’s desires and the use of power to achieve them.
The illustrations complement the story very nicely. The author never tells the reader that Hanuman is a monkey, for example. The readers learn that important fact through the artwork, which is vibrant and beautiful. The layout of the story is done very nicely, with the font getting bigger or smaller, in appropriate sections of the pages.
I applaud the mission of Bharat Babies, which is to produce developmentally appropriate children’s books that tell the story of India’s heritage. I look forward to getting to know Harini, our protagonist, a little better and to be able to share with my own grandchildren about her culture and traditions in more titles. I encourage parents, bookstores and librarians to buy these books and read them to our children.
You may purchase the book here.
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