India has a rich tradition of storytelling. Texts like the Kathasaritasagara, Panchatantra and Jataka are a rich storehouse of tales, which have been enjoyed by several generations of reader and listeners. These stories, full of humour and morals, are the ideal means to introduce the right values to young people.
If we look outside our country, we find all kinds of folktales that have been told to generations of children in every corner of the world. I have included a few such stories in this collection. Interestingly, while putting together these stories, I noticed that many Indian stores are about gods, curses and boons. They also often end with a marriage and the characters living happily after. Western stories, on the other hand, tend to emphasize logic and human intellect over other things, while middle-eastern ones have a lot of magic and supernatural elements.
I have tried to create a mix of these elements, though I have consciously left out stories, which have gods and goddesses and supernatural beings solving problems, or even those in which animals are given human qualities. My stories do not have animals, gods, miracles or curses. My own favourites, and these are ones I loved hearing many years ago, are about how men and women, boys and girls, land themselves in trouble and how they extricate themselves from it. They are about human emotions and everyday human activities.
Though these tales have been gathered from all over the world, while retelling them I have set them all in India so that the Indian child can relate to them. The people have Indian names and they live in ancient Indian kingdoms.
I have rewritten many stories, which I first heard as a child. Some others were told to me by people from other countries and some I have created myself.
I want to thank many people who have helped me to bring this book out, especially my publishers Penguin Books India.
Finally, I hope my readers, the children, will enjoy and remember them.
Back of the Book
Kings and misers, princes and paupers, wise men and foolish boys, the funniest and oddest men and women come alive in this sparkling new collection of stories. The clever princess will only marry the man who can ask her a question she cannot answer; the orphan boy outwits his greedy uncles with a bag of ash; and an old couple in distress is saved by a magic drum.
Sudha Murty's grandparents told her some of these stories when she was a child; others she heard from her friends from around the world. These delightful and timeless folktales have been her favourites for years, and she has recounted them many times over to the young people in her life. With this collection, they will be enjoyed by many more readers, of all ages.
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