A book review of Fascinating Folktales of Punjab
by Lakhpreet Kaur
Gurmeet Kaur is back again, with three more wonderful, bilingual, Punjabi folktale books! The Rooster’s Wedding, Tales of The Mouse & The Snake, and Tales of The Parrots & The Berries take readers into a colorful world of animal adventures. The fables embrace the joy and vibrancy that are hallmarks of Punjabi folktales, and with a total of five stories spanning the three books, each story concludes with morals to live by.
Read a synopsis of the stories here.
Kaur did a wonderful job in maintaining the poetry, rhythm, and rhyme of the stories when translating them from Punjabi to English. The full color spreads of rural imagery accompany basic stanza patterns with easy rhyme schemes, ideal for reading aloud.
The colorful illustrations, by Chaaya Prabhat, are gorgeous and captivating. They are bright, incorporate textures, and highlight Punjabi and Sikh images, pulling the reader into each scene. I couldn’t help myself but to touch each page so I could further connect with the pictures.
The stories captured in these books are thousands of years old and have been passed down generations through oral tradition, making the books a historical and cultural treasure. “There were a few writers in Punjab who have dedicated their lives to documenting these from the field,” said Kaur. “I have researched several of their books and found the ones that best resonated with the target age groups, and the ones that could be illustrated to give much exposure to authentic Punjabi language, lifestyle, flora, and fauna – the ones that have life lessons.”
Kaur spent five years conducting this research and crafting the retelling of the stories.
“The Rooster’s Wedding is completely retold in poetry, both in Punjabi and English,” she said. Kaur went on to explain her artistic license in tweaking the stories, “I have played with the ending of a few stories to make them more palatable to children of the Western Hemisphere while keeping the morals and idioms intact.”
As tools for learning Punjabi, these books are great for those who have mastered the alphabet and are working to conquer larger, five letter words. Additionally, the stories are easy to understand as they are written in conversational Punjabi. “I do a lot of language research to include various dialects of Punjabi,” Kaur said. “…and to use the words rooted in Guru Granth Sahib and old Punjabi texts.” Further encouraging Punjabi language learning is the wonderful glossary of terms at the end of each story.
These books will appeal to young, kindergarten to early elementary age school children, while the messages will resonate with older, elementary children. Gurmeet Kaur’s new Punjabi folktale books would be wonderful additions to home bookshelves, Gurdwara libraries, Punjabi school classrooms, and Vaisakhi gifts. Visit this site to buy the books.