Book Review : Raja Nang Dhadanga Hai

Recently, Payal Agarwal from Delhi emailed us a review of our book ‘Raja Nang Dhadanga Hai’. Payal is an editor based in Delhi. She also conducts theatre workshops with children in various schools and slums in Delhi as a senior member of an activist theatre group.
The cover illustration captivated me as soon as I saw the book. It is colourful and has great child-appeal. The vivid and colourful illustrations for the poem by French artist Audrey Kumar will immediately find appeal with the kids. I can well imagine a group of gangly kids with missing front teeth bent over a desk giggling over the picture of the foolish rajah who is naked save for the sash with sword at his waist, crown, jooti and his false pride walking in the middle of a crowd.
The story is ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ by Hans Christen Anderson. It is a well told children’s story in all parts of the world. Raja Nang Dharanga Hai is a brilliant retelling of the story in Hindi verse. It is also adapted to the Indian milieu. The poet, Kamala Bakaya was one of the rare educators of the twentieth century. She wrote innumerable songs and poems and was involved with education all her life.
The poem is written in simple Hindi and the easy rhyme delights. It is a song that children can learn easily and will recite aloud at play to the amusement of all. The poem is well peppered with local language and vernacular use of certain words. The character of the Raja and thugs is well etched.
The quality of print and illustrations is above par as is the norm with Pratham Books. A must read and see for all children and children-at-heart.

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