This book is suitable for age group 3 onwards considering the fact that the story is elaborately woven and comprises of words which a 6 year old may understand better.
Therefore I did a lot of background work before telling the kids the story - explaining them about who Valmiki is - (a Ri se Rishi) and how he wrote a story book just like the many books they read.
The story is based on the premise that a story takes a different form and spirit depending upon teh person relating it - whether through narration, enacting or other art forms- a painting ofr instance, I would say?
Valmiki finished his epic work of Ramayana and immensely satisfied and proud, he went about showing his work off to the world (like Delhi, Patna, Chennai, US, Asia, Australia .....). Everyone applauded his efforts like the Gods of rain, water, fire, wind but Narad, the dev rishi (the rishi who lives with Gods unlik Valmiki who lives with humans) was not impressed.
Because he had read a Ramayan that was far superior to what Valmiki had written- the one that was composed by Hanuman.
On hearing this, Valmiki went into a state of total denial as how could a mere monkey who was albeit strong and powerful and otherwise talented could be an accomplished writer too- and one who was considered to be far superior than him.
He travelled long distance to find Hanuman and read his version of Ramayana.
What was Valmiki's reaction to Hanuman's Ramayan?
And most important why is Hanuman's Ramayan a mystery to all of us?
I leave it to you to read and find out.
The story is written by Devdutt Pattnaik- a writer accomplished in interpretations of Indian mythology.
I loved the way he has used humour to make the mythilogical characters totally human- he has portrayed pride, insecurity, dismay, happiness, kindness, shame, admiration, devoutness- perhaps the entire range of rasas - human emotions and more in this simple and novel story.
The art work by Nancy Raj is vibrant, delightful and dynamic. For example, the route that Valmiki took as he crosses mountains to reach the abode of Hanuman is mapped in the form of tiny footsteps.
The book serves as a very witty introduction to Ramayana in my opinion.