By Tara Katir, Kapaa, Hawaii
The retelling of an ancient fish tale from India is Manu and The Talking Fish, by Roberta Arenson (30 pages, Barefoot Books, us$15.95). Sitting by the River Ganga and contemplating life's mysteries, Manu suddenly hears a voice entreat, "Please help me. A big fish is chasing me and wants to have me for his supper! If you help me, I will help you in return." Manu's helpfulness brings the same in return when the fish, who is actually Lord Brahma in disguise, reveals that a flood is coming to engulf the world. Instructed to build a large boat, collect seeds, animals and find seven wise men to accompany him, Manu sets about his tasks. The rains fall and water covers the Earth, but Manu and all on his boat remain safe. "Tales of deluge or flood are found in the literature and oral traditions of almost every culture. They tell of a time when the Earth is suddenly covered by water, when the old is washed away so the new can emerge. The tale of Manu predates that of his Biblical counterpart, Noah." Arenson's brilliantly colored paper and paint collages bring a vivid accent to this ancient Indian version of the flood mythology. A great read-aloud book for your young child.
Herb, the vegetarian Dragon (30 pages, Barefoot Books, us$15.95), by Jules Bass, is a vegetarian of another species. In the forest of Nogard lives a band of meat-eating dragons. As brave knights from Castle Dark resolve to rid themselves of these fearsome dragons, one singular dragon named Herb quietly prepares "Herb's Famous Lakewater Veggie Slurp." Later while hoeing his garden, Herb is captured by Castle Dark's knights and imprisoned. Rebuffing an offer of help tendered by the other dragons if he will eat wild boar meat, Herb declares, "Thanks, but no thanks. I don't see it your way, so I'll take my chances. I don't ask you to stop eating meat, so why do you ask me to stop eating vegetables?" Rescued by a little girl who convinces the king of her friend's gentle demeanor, Herb brings "peace to the forest of Nogard, where dragons and people, meat-eaters and vegetarians, live together in peace and harmony." Enhancing this gentle story are Debbie Harter's gloriously colorful and delightfully humorous illustrations.
Barefoot Books, Inc. 41 Schermerhorn Street, Suite 145, Brooklyn, New York, New York 11201-4845 www.barefoot-books.com
I'm on a seafood diet," my friend announced. "When I see food, I eat it." For a different kind of seafood, one any vegetarian can enjoy, join a sea voyage with One Lonely Sea Horse by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers (26 pages, Scholastic Press, us$15.95). Enter the realm of aquatic creatures with a sea horse named Bea who searches for his fishy pals. Finding them by twos, threes and up to ten, adults will enjoy this delightful counting book for young children, as Bea's underwater escapades bring a whole new meaning to the word seafood. Banana octopi, angelfish peppers, coral kales, mackerel eggplants, pineapple turtles and, of course, a sea horse made from chiogga beets are but a few of these delectable denizens of the deep. Freymann's inventive vegetable sea creatures will certainly bring a smile to your face with his imaginative creations. Come count your way through a vegetarian's cornucopia of deep sea delights.
Scholastic Press, 555 Broadway, New york, New York 10012
All Love Flows to the Self, Eternal Stories from the Upanishads by Kumuda Reddy, Thomas Egenes, and Linda Egenes (164 pages, Samhita Publications, us$24.95) and Snacks for the Soul by J.P. Vaswani (262 pages, Sterling Publishers Private Limited) provide us "stories that will enrich your mind, purify your heart and rekindle your soul." Enjoy these stories with your child in a quiet time together.
Samhita Productions, 1537 Union Street, Schenectady, New York 12309
Sterling Publishers (P) LTD. L-10, Green Park Extension, New Delhi 110016. Phone: 91.11.6191784,91.11.6191785. Fax: 91.11.6190028. www.sterlingpublishers.com