Book reviewed in the online version of the magazine, The Week
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December 27, 2015
THE AVRAH STORIES
The magic of the mundane
By Anjuly Mathai | January 03, 2016twitterlinkedingooglefacebook
One of my favourite quotes by William Martin goes like this:
Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.
Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them how to cry when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
And that’s exactly what Abraham does in his short story collection for children—he shows them the wonder of the ordinary through a ragtag group of characters who are heroes not because of what they do but rather because of who they are—brave and adventurous, of course, but also shy like the little prince, lonely like Jake of Jake’s Lake and sad like Roger of Roger Slow. The essence of his stories lies in the fact that the hero doesn’t end up slaying the dragon, but rather tames it with a bucketful of love.
The collection is aimed at children aged 5 to 10 and was created as bedtime stories that Abraham narrated to his children when they were old enough. So Wolf Bay, for example, is meant to highlight the danger of dishonesty and the loneliness it can create. Reindeer Stag is his attempt to underline the resilience needed to overcome the death of a parent.
A million children all over the world were thrust into an adult horizon of pain and sorrow when J.K. Rowling decided to kill off Professor Dumbledore, the epitome of everything good and wise. Life is not always sunshine and cotton candy, she seemed to say. Similarly, in Abraham’s stories, too—in The Rat’s Tale, when you hear the cry of the dying rat with the broken skull, something in you, too, breaks. By not shying away from pain, he gives a three-dimensionality to his characters. And he teaches his little readers a lesson that you are never too young to learn: the importance of empathy.
The Avrah Stories
By Abu Abraham
Published by Troubador
Price Rs795; ISBN 9781784624170
Rarely have I come across short stories for young kids that appeals and makes a lasting impression on the mature well exposed adult too . First time author Abu Abraham has packed a lot of meaning, wisdom and guidance into these stories .Loved reading the foreword which gave an insight into the writer's mind and his tales.The multilayered stories make the young reader feel good about the positivity and wonder about the aftermath and the older ones to probe beneath its seemingly simple surface. Loved the uplifting 'Kites' , the though provoking 'Knight Rider', the bitter sweet 'Rat Story' , the magical 'the Small Prince' and am waiting to read the rest to a child and see their perspective. I hope that there would be more books from this author.
by Elizabeth Alexander
The stories are enchanting, and beautifully written. Although we are advised to read each story as an entity and at a separate time, it is difficult not to move on to the next story. Each story does stand on its own, which makes it ideal bedtime reading for children, but more than that it is a book which can be enjoyed by the child still in each of us. Thoroughly recommended.
by David Wilkes
A book of Modern Fables to inspire young children. Beautifully and sensitively told, while showing what life can be about. Wonderful stories for bedtime.
by Amazon Customer
Abu Abraham has done a great job with this book. Each story catches your attention, and pulls you into the story. I think kids of most ages would enjoy these stories, and adults as well reading them out load. Kites was one of my favourites, followed closely by Wolf Boy.
by NetGalley reviewer
"I started telling them the stories that I had had in my head for a long time. And, when I ran out, I made up more to feed the wonder in their eyes."
This is a quote from the author Abu Abraham talking about why he told stories for his sons in the Foreword chapter dedicated to explain the book.
It is a short and sweet book, filled with stories that made me emotional and warm inside. Some were heart-breaking, but, as he said, all had a meaning, sometimes powerful and explicit, sometimes one that needed more thought to be understood.
It was a very quick read and I personally think it is perfect to tell children when you run out of time or if their attention span seems to decrease.
by NetGalley reviewer