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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)
Fivetongued Firefanged Folkadotted Dragon Snake (The)
by Anushka Ravishankar
Age Range: 6-8
One boring day, Arun spots something unusual in the bushes at school. Itís a Fivetongued Firefanged Folkadotted Dragon Snake! But no one else can see the Fivetongued Firefanged Folkadotted Dragon Snake and Arunís friends donít believe him. On the way home, Arun feels that someone is watching him. Who is it? Perhaps the Fivetongued Firefanged Folkadotted Dragon Snake is nearer than he thinks! Find out in this wonderful nonsense suspense story!
Anushka Ravishankarís book takes a delight in language that isnít seen enough in stories for children and her interesting choice of narrator adds suspense and an interesting perspective to a simple but original and well-told tale. One of the pleasures of the story is that the author does not underestimate her audience, either.
Ravishankar uses long words and plays on vocabulary (Folkadotted being an especially amusing pun) and is not afraid to use elements of suspense that add some complexity to her story as well as having a lot of fun. Children might initially be mystified as Ravishankar slips between third and first-person but this is intentional. Readers should quickly work out what is going on with the narrative and realise the effect that the author is trying to achieve and then have the thrill of reading through to the end to see if they are correct. Ravishankar builds up curiosity all the way by allowing Arun to know that he is being watched by someone, creating a real sense of excitement.
Ravishankarís story is also a touching tale of making friends and vivid imaginations and is ably abetted by Indrapramit Royís pen and ink monochrome illustrations that really capture the way children act and also adds an interesting twist. The fidgeting, eager children are sometimes depicted through the bars of the school gates, giving the reader the sensation of looking at them like animals in a zoo. Is this the view the Fivetongued Firefanged Folkadotted snake has of them too? Although the children cannot see the snake, he can see them!
A sweet, funny and definitely different read, the surprise in this story will intrigue young readers and Ravishankarís use of language and fun will keep audiences of all ages laughing.
Abby Phillips (2012)