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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Great Race (The)
by Nathan Kumar Scott
Age Range: 6-8
Kanchil the mouse deer believes that he is the fastest animal in the forest so when he challenges all the other animals to a race he is confident he will win. The day of the ‘Great Race’ dawns, who will step forward and accept the challenge? When the only creature in the jungle to challenge him is Pelan the snail, Kanchil is sure that victory is his.
‘The Great Race’ is reminiscent of the Aesop fable the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’, and is an retelling by Nathan Kumar Scott of an Indonesian folk tale featuring the popular trickster Kanchil who lives by his wits in order to survive.
It is illustrated in the exquisite Mata Ni Pachedi (literally the Cloth of the Mother), style of virtual textile painting from Gujarat. The artist, Jagdish Chitara belongs to a traditional group of artisans known as Waghari – a poor and marginalised community considered to be low in the caste system who created special ritual cloth for the Mother Goddess, worshipped by poor people.
The vivid three dominant colours of blood red, black and white really stand out from the page. Bringing Jagdish’s art into a children’s book was a huge challenge for Tara Publishing as this was the first time that he had attempted to paint a secular story.
The Great Race is sure to amuse and entertain young readers as Kanchil gets his comeuppance against such an absurd foe. There is a detailed description of illustrator Chitara's cultural background and traditional art provided at the back of the book.