School for Princes: Stories from the Panchatantra
. Frances Lincoln Children's Books . London
PK3741.P3G38 2011 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This engaging large-format 64-page book for children starts with a preamble: "Princes Who Wouldn't Learn." There follow five chapters, each containing a story about the three princes created by Gavin and a story from one of the five chapters. I remember the order as different in the Panchatantra itself, but the five chapters here are Gaining Friends, Losing Friends, Loss of Gains, Rash Deeds, and The Art of Duplicity. Gavin is gentler in the preamble than the original. Sarma says that the king may, if Sarma has failed to educate the king's unruly sons within six months, "make him a laughingstock." I do believe that the original says that the king may show him the regal butt! Sarma says "They are not stupid. They just need awakening." In the first chapter, the three sullen boys fly a kite but lose it to a fighter-kite, equipped with sharp glass. Sarma tells them the story of the doves caught in a net. In this version, Crow warns the King of the Doves, but the latter thinks it a crow's trick. In this version, the King's friend is Mole. In a return to the story of the kite-stealer, the three boys need the help of the girl Preeta, who is ready to climb the tree and rescue their kite. By the end of this adventuresome story, the boys proclaim "We did it together!" "Even princes need friends" (21). "Losing Friends" then offers the traditional Panchatantra story of the lion who destroys his friend the bull. The contemporary story starts with a jealous cousin, Kanu, watching Preeta -- now a favorite of the three princes -- washing a buffalo. In the Panchatantra story for this second frame, the buffalo is named Lively. A key sentence here is "It's so hard, when you're a prince, to know who your real friends are, isn't it?" (26). In this Kalila and Dimna portion of the work, the two jackals are "Wily" (Dimna) and "Wary" (Kalila). In this version, Wary goes with Wily to visit the buffalo making frightening noises. Wily tells King Lion that the bellowing comes from Shiva's own bull! Gavin does a good job of telescoping the step-by-step doubt of each other in Ramsay Wood's version. This version gets the two doubting each other quickly. Wary objects along the way and Wily answers "This is statecraft. All statecraft is crooked" (32). Frame Three is "Loss of Gains," and it leads to the story of the ape and the crocodile. In this version, the crocodile wife dreams that eating the monkey's heart will give her and her husband eternal life. Hideous Jaws at the key point knows that he has Redface in his power and wants to give him "a chance to make his peace with God." Curiously, Hideous Jaws' wife is killed while he is returning to Redface's home to get his "real heart." Frame Four is "Rash Deeds." The youngest prince kills the monkey faithful to him out of suspicion. Sarma tells the story of the mongoose and wife. This wife kills the faithful mongoose who had protected her son. In Frame Five, The Art of Duplicity, Kanu's behavior becomes more and more suspect. Sarma tells "Owls and Crows," in which a Sinon-like crow sets the owls up for a disastrous defeat. Willey creates a variety of art objects to accompany the stories. Several of the early images strike me as perhaps too soft for this story. I start to follow the artist's lead when I see the doves caught in the net (16). The best image may be on 32-33, where King Lion has attacked Lively with the two jackals watching.