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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)
London Jungle Book (The)
by Bhajju Shyam
Age Range: 12+
Bhajju Shyam comes from the tribal village of Patangath in central India. He was
commissioned to decorate the walls of a restaurant in Islington, London and this
book is the result of his two months’ experience of living and working in the city
and his personal views of people, places and customs. Through his paintings,
he manages to give an interpretation which is closely associated with the
Gond art of his home region.
This book successfully brings together the two different cultures through expressive folk paintings, with the added bonus of having the artist himself explaining each piece of artwork and, in doing so, placing it in its wider cultural context.
The London Jungle Book has not been translated from a Hindi written text, but the editors interviewed the artist – who does not speak English – and then transferred onto paper his cultural experiences for the delight of young people and adults alike. The Gond ethnic illustrations are highly expressive and beautifully manage to put across the feelings of the artist. Particularly effective are those of the London underground system represented by snakes and Big Ben merging with a giant rooster, also featured on the front cover.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet Publishing, 2005)