The Rumor: A Jataka Tale from India
Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is the
author of several books, including The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese
Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret Laurence: T
Beautifully symmetrical and highly amusing, this picture book for young
children is set in India “long, long ago.” Jan Thornhill retells an
ancient Jataka tale that has been used for thousands of years to teach
sharing and compassion, and the difference between good and evil.
Jataka tales typically introduce the Buddha as an animal. In
Thornhill’s version, the all-wise Buddha is clearly represented by the
majestic lion who calms the panic of the other animals and settles their
confusion. The story begins with a young hare, a “worrywart” who
frets about everything. The fall of a ripe mango near the nervous hare
convinces her that the world is breaking up, and she manages to spread
fear and confusion throughout the forest, causing such terror that the
animals stampede. Then the kindly lion convinces them all that “there
is absolutely nothing to worry about.”
Thornhill’s patterned text makes effective use of repetition with
variation, while her gorgeous illustrations partner the text perfectly.
Each of her richly detailed full-page images is framed with an elegant,
colorful border, reinforcing the traditional aspect of the East Indian
tale. Highly recommended.