Kids Corner


Gurmeet Kaur Launches Three New Children’s Books
Folktales of Punjab

A Review by T. SHER SINGH




Fascinating Folktales of Punjab Series

# 6 - THE ROOSTER’S WEDDING (Kukkarh da Veyaah), pp 40. ISBN: 978-0-9887101-5-3
# 7 - TALES OF THE MOUSE & THE SNAKE (Baataan Choohey te Supp Diyaan), pp 52. ISBN: 978-0-9887101-6-0
# 8 - TALES OF THE PARROTS & THE BERRIES (Do Baataan: Totey te Lillaan), pp 52. ISBN: 978-0-9887101-7-7

Retold by Gurmeet Kaur, Illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat. USA, 2016, Punjabi, English & Romanized Punjabi, $16.99 each.

Children’s author Gurmeet Kaur of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, today launches three more books in her celebrated series, “Fascinating Folktales of Punjab.”

These are welcome additions for a number of reasons.

We are long past the stage when quality books for children in Punjabi were scarce, if at all available. In recent years, however, a bevy of excellent children’s authors have stepped up to the plate and have been providing a steady stream of top-notch publications: Gurmeet Kaur herself, of course, as well as the likes of Inni Kaur, Jessie Kaur, Navjot Kaur, Parveen Kaur, and Pushpinder Kaur.  

Therefore, the natural next phase is to build a sizable quantum of children’s books so that a wide variety and selection is readily available for parents as their children demand more and more to satiate their endless appetite for such bonbons.

Also, as our children grow up, they need a steady stream of books which continue to pique their interest by making the content increasingly sophisticated and mature in content, language, vocabulary, interest and level of understanding.

Gurmeet’s new books, aimed at 5-10 year-olds, do just that.

They are indeed, as volumes 6 to 8 in the ongoing series, designed for an older child, offering much more than the jingles and rhymes that are necessary to begin the journey.

There are five stories in the three volumes -- the latter two have two each -- and each has both a Punjabi verse and an English translation on each page. Each story is followed by a transliteration of the complete piece in Romanized Punjabi for those not familiar (enough) with the Gurmukhi script or the Punjabi language, or need assistance with the vocabulary and grammar.

And an English-Punjabi glossary accompanying each tale adds to the usefulness of the book. 

The illustrations by Chaaya Prabhat are exquisite. They make me envious and somewhat disappointed that these lovely creations weren’t around when I was growing up. I had to graduate straight from the qaida (primer) to Sohan Singh Seetal’s tracts of nursery rhymes, short stories, jokes and riddles, and then quickly to my first, foggy reading of Nanak Singh’s “Chitta Lahu”. 

Young readers will immensely benefit from the Punjabi version of each tale, in the form vetted by S.S. Vanjara Bedi, and from the adaptations, translations and transliterations put together with input from a team comprising Jugraj Singh Sandhu, Nirvair Singh, Vaughan Nickerson, Angad Singh, Gurdit Singh and Shelby Steinhauer.

The language in each case remains simple and straightforward. At the same time, there are new words (some, even for me), which serves the very purpose of these books grandly. What good would they be if each reader did not close each book and discover that he/she had learnt a few new words?

The five tales themselves are rich in the anthropomorphic world they create, in a strain parallel to that of Aesop and the Brothers Grimm. Children will gravitate to them easily, and yet adults too will find them engrossing, as I did.

Punjabi language and literature, dating back in their origin as an oral tradition to a pre-Sanskrit era, are a treasure-lode of folk tales and legends. Long neglected by cultures that have dominated the subcontinent during recent centuries through sheer strength of numbers, it is about time that we gave new life to modern Punjabi by making sure that our children, and their children in turn, inherit the legacy and build on it.

Gurmeet Kaur has done yeoman service in this regard.

Her latest offerings are a must for each Sikh and Punjabi household. We can support the urgent mission of building our community’s repertoire by each of us buying a set each for our children and grandchildren, as well as gifts for our friends and loved ones.

Remember, Vaisakhi is but around the corner!

These three books, as well as all of the older publications, can be purchased by CLICKING here.  Special rates are also available for bulk purchases for schools, libraries and bookstores.

March 22, 2016          

Conversation about this article

1: Amardeep Singh (USA), March 23, 2016, 12:54 PM.

It was delightful to hold the books in my hands. Marvelous! Very entertaining, each story has a moral. Adults can enjoy the books as much as kids.

2: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), March 23, 2016, 10:11 PM.

What a delight to have another fascinating addition to the fund of children stories. From when we were growing up, the only stories I remember are from Janamsakhis, some of them quite bizarre. For example, one in which Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana traveled on the back of a whale to the Middle East. I can't give exact references and suspect my mother made some of it up. Congratulations, Gurmeet Kaur ji, and hope your latest books take you on a trip to Malaysia soon and give some respite to the ubiquitous mobile universally stuck to the left ear.

3: Kuldip Singh (Atlanta, USA), March 24, 2016, 12:44 AM.

These books are beautifully illustrated around Punjabi folktales. A perfect gift for your child to learn and enjoy the stories. The covers, color, pages, all are very appealing. The set of books encourages parents to spend quality reading time with their children and interpret the amusing illustrations. It is enjoyable to read stories poetically. English and Romanized Punjabi is a big plus for non-Punjabi readers. My kid enjoys repeating every word on a page while pointing at the pictures. I commend the author’s hard work and effort to create positive interactions between parent and child.

4: Nimarta Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), March 24, 2016, 1:31 PM.

Another set of masterpieces from Gurmeet Kaur. These books surprised me - from illustrations, to colors, the characters, their expressions and attention to the details ... everything is JUST PERFECT. All of the books are very rich in content and visuals. The Rooster's Wedding is the new favorite for my daughter who is five. She is building up a great vocabulary and at the same time enjoying the humor in the story and understanding the deeper message ... to be persistent and get what you really want in life. Thank you for another great set of books!

5: Gurpreet Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 29, 2016, 10:41 AM.

I believe there is a demand for Punjabi story books in English / Punjabi through Apps. Almost nothing is available today. Hope to see these new books and existing ones on the appstore soon. Congratulations!

6: Arjan Singh (USA), March 31, 2016, 2:02 PM.

#5 - Gurpreet ji: I agree with you. As an avid reader and a father, I believe we need to create a mobile platform that can be used to publish material related to Sikh/Punjabi topics. I work in the Technology sector and as soon as I have the resources I will contact the authors (including Gurmeet ji) to create such a mobile platform. Stay connected. It has to be a joint effort and cannot be accomplished without the help of like-minded souls.

7: Inderjeet Kaur (Seattle, Washington State, USA), April 01, 2016, 9:00 PM.

Bhen Gurmeet Kaur ji has done it again! Her latest set of Punjabi folktales are even bigger and better than her previous editions. Bigger because these are for children (and adults) old enough to be able to handle and care for books. The writing and retelling of the traditional stories is top notch and the illustrations are beautiful, brightly colored with just the right amount of detail. The stories themselves all serve to illustrate Sikh values; this is a most enjoyable way to pass these on in both Punjsbi and English to the next generations. All three books are lively and fun, but I must admit that my favorite is the unlikely tale of a rooster who longs to marry a princess. Only the Punjabis could come up with such an idea and only Gurmeet Kaur can present it so perfectly. Having both the English and the Punjabi versions adds to both the charm and the educational value. I keep these books on my coffee table, so anyone visiting me sees them immediately. Of course, I see to it that guests move the books away from their tea and coffee. A few days ago, Payton, a little boy of five, and his mother came to visit me. He immediately saw them and carefully opened one of the books and began turning the pages, engrossed in the pictures. After a while, he looked up and said, "What is this book about?" He couldn't yet read, so his mother read it aloud to him. After they finished the first book, he said in that very serious tone native only to five year boys, "That was a good story," and picking up a second book, "now read me this one!" Of course, everything stopped until all three had been read. "Is that all? These are the best stories." So I showed him the earlier books in the series, in a more sturdy edition aimed at younger children and all of those had to be read, as well. I must point out that Payton and his mother are not Sikhs, yet they were both enchanted by all the books. Now don't all the Sikh kids you know (and their parents) deserve a chance to enjoy this lovely collection of books?

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Folktales of Punjab"

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