Monday, October 30, 2017

Pattan's Pumplin: A Traditional Flood Story from Southern India by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Frané Lessac

Since fall is traditionally pumpkin season, I thought I would share a lovely folktale from India about an truly amazing pumpkin and a truly amazing flood.

A farmer named Pattan has some animals, rides about on elephants, and grows lots of vegetables and fruit on land that lay by a mighty river. When Pattan finds an ailing plant with beautiful yellow flowers, he decides replant it so he can care for it. One day, in among the yellow flowers, Pattan notices that a pumpkin has started to grow.

And grow and grow and grow. Soon, it was even larger than his elephant, and still it grew and grew and grew. 

Then one day, it begins to rain, and rain, and rain. Afraid the rain would wash away everything Pattan and his wife Kanni had, he makes a big decision. With the help of his wife and animals, he collects every seed and sapling from his plants. Then, Pattan harvests his enormous pumpkin, and along with help from his animals, they hollow it out. Meanwhile, his wife is busy filling sacks with grain, seeds, and herbs, that the animals then bring to the hollowed out pumpkin.

As the rain continues to pour down, and night falls, Patten, Kanni, and all the animals climb into the hollowed out pumpkin, the last stem holding the pumpkin in place is cut, and they are on their way. The rain pours down, the pumpkin bobbs along, and Kanni sings lullabies to the baby animals and birds. Until one day, the rain stopped and the sun comes out. The mighty pumpkin had saved them!

When I read Pattan’s Pumpkin to my kids, they loved it. In fact, we read it a lot. Chitra Sounder has written a timely, straightforward and fully accessible retelling of a traditional flood story that was handed down by the Irular tribe in Southern India. And as with all flood stories, there is a definite theme of harmony disrupted by nature, and harmony restored by nature with a definite message of hope, thanks to Pattan. And despite the threat to their lives and home, it was nice to see how Pattan, Kanni, the animals and birds all worked together to save themselves. 

My young readers also loved the folk art style illustrations, which both reflected and added to the storyline so well. They are done in a pleasing gouache palette of bold greens, blues, and of course oranges. 

Do read the Author’s Note at the front of the book giving more information about the origin of the Pattan story and its cultural roots.

Chitra has some wonderful Teaching Resources for Pattan's Pumpkin HERE as well as some fun facts about pumpkins HERE

Artist Frané Lessac has a fun pumpkin coloring sheet like the one below. An enlarged version can be downloaded HERE. 

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was sent to me by the author, Chitra Soundar

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