Saturday, September 19, 2009

Balarama: A Royal Elephant

From Ted and Betsy Lewin, here's a lovely travelogue in picture book form that I had the privilege of seeing while it was in production.

Balarama: A Royal Elephant. Lee & Low, 2009.

In a direct present tense voice, the Lewins take us to Karapur, near Nagarhole National Forest in south India. On their first visit, they meet the venerable Drona, the Royal Elephant who leads the procession on the last day of the Dasara festival. They return, eager to see Drona serve as the lead or Ambari elephant, but find he has died in an unfortunate roadside accident. A new elephant, Balarama, will be the Ambari. The rest of the narrative is the story of Balarama’s debut, complete with humorous episodes in the training camp and a dramatic introduction to Balarama himself. Lavish paintings depict the decorated and caparisoned elephants, and capture the dust and foliage, color and vibrancy, of the Mysore setting. This is a joyful and intense introduction to a complex and beautiful tradition. Glossary and pronunciation guide included.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review, Uma. Also of interest is video of a studio visit with Ted and Betsy as they discuss their process and the making of Balarama. It can be found here: