Originally published in the UK as two separate books: A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom, and A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice, this collected volume of eight Indian folktales introduces readers to Prince Veera and his best friend, Suku, who stand in for Veera’s father, King Bheema, and preside over cases brought to the king’s court. Suku is a farmer’s son who studies with the prince as a scholarship student, and Prince Veera is a clear-headed tween who respects his family and seeks his friend’s opinion on matters. These “trickster tales” are inspired by traditional Indian folktales and have a wry sense of humor that kids will love. Together, the two will unmask a greedy man who leases a well to his neighbor – but charges him for the water; humble a merchant who attempts to charge people for enjoying the delicious smells coming from his sweets shop, and prove to the populace – including Veera’s own father, the king – that bad luck is not contagious, nor can a man’s bad luck rub off on anyone.
The book is illustrated throughout by award-winning author Uma Krishnaswamy, who creates beautiful, eye-catching artwork. Chitra Soundar’s stories are small morality plays, with strong messages to deliver, delivered with humor and warmth. I love this book and can’t wait to get it on my shelves. I’m looking forward to more Indian mythology, folk, and fairy tales in the coming year or two, especially with the success of mythology-based fantasy by Sayantani Dasgupta (The Serpent’s Secret) and Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah and the End of Time), Read a sample chapter courtesy of Candlewick Press here.