Kids Corner

Books

The Royal Falcon

A Book Review by MEETA KAUR

 

 

THE ROYAL FALCON, by Jessi Kaur. Illustrated by Pammy Kapoor, Edited by Harsharan Kaur. U.S.A., 2009.

The Royal Falcon was selected as one of 8 books to be showcased and celebrated at the Parliament of The World's Religions held in Melbourne, Australia earlier this month. Jessi Kaur was a featured author at the Parliament as well.

 

THE REVIEW

As a child, I remember searching for books that looked and felt like me, a Sikh girl growing up in America.  The closest I came was Ramona Quimby, a dark haired American girl, Nancy Drew, a light-dark haired detective, and Veronica, another dark haired American teenager in the Archie comics.

Today, I have the pleasure of reliving my childhood reveries for children's books through my daughter's literary explorations.

On average, we pick up 8 picture books every two weeks from our public library. And we feel that in the next five years, we will have the pleasure of picking up children's books that are written by and for Sikhs.  We are eager and excited to pick up The Lion's Mane by Navjot Kaur and Jessi Kaur's most recently published book, The Royal Falcon - a must-have for any child's bookshelf.   

The Royal Falcon crosses geographical, ethnic, and fantastical boundaries, creating a world that is magical, hopeful, and full of love. Jessi Kaur places Guru Gobind Singh's falcon in North America as a life guide to young Arjan, a Sikh boy growing up in America.

At the beginning of the book, Khushi, Arjan's name for the falcon, asks Arjan and the readers to suspend disbelief, let go of reality as we know it, by believing in "mind over matter" to join Khushi for a true adventure. Time travel, Sikh historical sites, the ability to fly, Sikh heroes, compassion, and a deeper understanding of people and circumstances are just some of the touch-downs in their escapade.  

The visits back in time are memorable and shrewdly used to teach important historical Sikh myths. Jessi also diversifies the character line-up by creating Miss Fernandez, a Hispanic American teacher, and Tyler, an American boy, as strong secondary characters.    

The illustrations by Pammy Kapoor are warm and  inviting, distinct, and representative of our family lives here in the diaspora.

The book opens with an illustration of Arjan Singh dressed in a t-shirt and shorts hanging out in his bedroom with an IPod dangling from his bed.  Another illustration depicts Arjan flying over his local city in tandem with Khushi. The final illustration of Arjan in a warm embrace with Guru Gobind Singh Ji will melt away any bad feelings from the day.    

To compliment the illustrations, Jessi uses straightforward language that is colorful and moves the plot along at an enjoyable pace. The dialogue is strong and inquisitive. The descriptions are rich. Here is one of Guru Gobind Singh ji: 

    "He was dressed in an orange robe interwoven with shades of gold. His immaculately tied turban was adorned with a plume set with precious stones. There was a luminous radiance about him."

Aside from the obvious life lessons Jessi focuses on, The Royal Falcon also teaches children some more subtle life lessons that are worth knowing.  Arjan and Khushi's relationship shows children it is okay to disagree with friends and guard and protect one's own value system by saying no. The relationship also depicts the importance of setting limits and boundaries with others when we do disagree about an issue.  

Jessi Kaur also handles socio-economic class differences between characters responsibly. While Arjan clearly comes from a secure upper middle class background, Tyler, his classmate, does not. One of the illustrations clearly depicts Tyler's family as struggling yet Jessi gives Tyler a conscience and the character to do the right thing at the end.

As a parent, I appreciate turning socio-economic stereotypes on their heads by depicting all people, regardless of background, capable of making good choices and choosing to do the "right thing" when the circumstance calls for it.   

The crowning jewel in this book is the ocean of love that is shown between Arjan and Guru Gobind Singh. I'll refrain from telling you how this occurs as to keep it a surprise. There is no distance or separation. It is pure and full and eternal. It is such a wonderful feeling to walk away with; it punctuates the ending with warmth.

It is the perfect way for a child to drift off into a peaceful slumber and for a parent to feel good about a story-time session well done.    

 

[For more info on The Royal Falcon, please visit www.jessikaur.com ]

December 17, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Baljit Kaur (Georgia, U.S.A.), December 17, 2009, 8:13 AM.

Lovely illustrations! Am looking forward to getting a copy, and to reading it to my grandchildren.

2: Harjinder Singh (Barnala, Punjab), December 17, 2009, 7:10 PM.

The sad part is that these books are exorbitantly priced, especially for us here in Punjab and India. Wish they were available to children here at affordable prices.

3: Mai Harinder Kaur (Seattle, U.S.A.), December 17, 2009, 10:48 PM.

Especially the last image: Don't we all dream of this?

4: Amitoj (U.S.A.), December 18, 2009, 1:04 PM.

I agree with Harjinder. An easy and inexpensive solution is available though: publish these books in digital as well as paper format. Digital format can be for an Indian edition and much cheaper.

5: Pradeep Singh (Mathura, India), December 18, 2009, 1:24 PM.

Very impressive. The last image is just so captivating; straight from my dreams. Thank you, Jessie and Pammy.

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