Written by Ira Saxena and illustrated by Mayukh Ghosh, The Tale of Babban Hajjam (Amazon linkis published by Karadi Tales. It has been shortlisted for the Neev Children’s Book Award, 2019. Recommended age for self-reading: Regular 7+ | Advanced 5+.

The Tale of Babban Hajjam is set in the Kingdom of Rajatpur, where something strange was happening. A barber (or babban) would be summoned to serve King Bhanu Pratap, and poof, he would mysteriously disappear. Babbans across the land fled the kingdom, but Babban Hajjam, decided to unravel the mystery instead. 

Babban Hajjam discovered that a pair of horns sat on the king’s head! This was the reason for the mysterious disappearances! Fearing the worst, he begged for mercy. The king spared Hajjam on the condition that he would take the secret to his grave. He agreed, but the secret gnawed at Hajjam. And one day, he dashed to a forest and blurted it out into an empty well, where … a little plant heard it.

The rest of the story takes us through the journey of the little plant – how it reaches the palace, and how it reveals the closely guarded secret. The Tale of Babban Hajjam is a folk tale retold, and is set in a world where reality bends a little to allow for the storytelling.

The story is about accepting oneself. And more importantly, that it is okay to laugh at ourselves. In fact, it can even save a life! 

Folk Tales, by Karadi Tales

The publisher of this book, Karadi Tales, has an amazing reputation when it comes to reworking folk tales – Monkey and the Capseller, The Rumour, Kutti and the Mouse, The Story and the Song, and so on. If you are looking for a book version of an Indian folk tale, then you can close your eyes and pick the Karadi Tales version.

As expected, this book is also really well made – Ira Saxena’s writing is crisp and well-paced. And Mayukh Ghosh’s illustrations are gorgeous.

What did you think of the book? Comment and let us know! Have you read our reviews of the other books on the Neev award 2019 shortlist? Also, check out the Best of Indian Children’s Writing (BICW) – Contemporary Award list!

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