Being a wise and just ruler is no easy task. That’s what Prince Veera discovers when he and his best friend, Suku, are given the opportunity to preside over the court of his father, King Bheema. Some of the subjects’ complaints are easily addressed, but others are much more challenging. How should they handle the case of the greedy merchant who wishes to charge people for enjoying the smells of his sweets? And can they prove that an innocent man cannot possibly spread bad luck? Will Prince Veera and Suku be able to settle the dispute between a man and his neighbor to whom he sells a well — but not the water in it? Or solve the mystery of the jewels that have turned into pickles? Illustrated throughout by Uma Krishnaswamy, these eight original tales by Chitra Soundar task Veera and Suku with outwitting the kingdom’s greediest, wiliest subjects. Are the two clever boys up to the challenge?
I grew up devouring folk tales and fairy tales from all over. Reading these was like running into old friends you hadn't even thought about in a while, but who you instantly recognized. Soundar does an excellent job of making the stories accessible to the modern day reader, while still retaining the flavor of India long ago.
The volume is a collection of stories that appear to have been published separately at one time, and in places it reads that way. Halfway through the book, one story begins again with an introduction to the characters we have already become well-acquainted with. Some of the endings and beginnings could be reworked slightly to help with the flow, but for the most part it works well. Krishnaswamy's illustrations help convey both culture and expression. Patterned pages divide some stories, but not others**.
**Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Copy, and the finished work may have resolved these details.
Overall, it is a charming collection, and we will be ordering a copy for the library when it becomes available next month.