Book Review: The Boys who fought

There are many retellings of the Mahabharata and if you want to introduce your kids to this great work of mythology, there really are a plethora of options available. "The Boys who fought" by Devdutt Pattanaik happens to be one of the really good options to start the child's (hopefully lifelong) journey of reading this . The great 18 day war is at the heart of the Mahabharata, but the events that lead upto the war is the soul of the book.  In this book, India's most famous mythologist presents every part of it as a " fight".  In total there are 6 fights - the fights as orphans, the fights as refuges, the fight as kings, the fight as exiles, the fight as warriors ( the actual Kurukshetra) and finally the fight as Hermits.There are many things going for the book , here are the reasons why we feel it is a great book to pick up

1.Dharma is explained as " When you can fight for the meek without hating the mighty, you follow dharma" . The book stays true to bringing out the meaning of this crucial understanding of Dharma right from the start. Explaining Mahabharata to children in a simple way, while staying true to the crux is no mean task and this book manages to do just that.

2. The Characters are introduced as and when they become relevant to the plot. For example, the story of Shikandi and the whole plot about Amba, Ambalika  and Ambika is introduced only at the time when she enables Arjuna to shoot the volley of arrows at Pita Bhisma

3. Bhagawad Gita's crux is beautifully explained in a simple and effective way

4. The illustrations, done by the author himself and are part of the story. The deeper nuance of the particular instance is expressed inside the illustration, so the depending on the readers level of understanding one could skim or skip this part

 

5.  The idea of Dharma is a constant backdrop of the book and the children are meant to be left with an understanding of the concept or at least develop a spirit of enquiry

6. The greatest victory of the book perhaps is that it explains, the characters, the plot and the circumstances without judging them as good or evil

This book is highly recommended to explain this epic to kids in a very simple yet effective way

 

Educational Value: 5/5
 
Role Models & Attitude Portrayal: multiple nuanced characters
 
Age Band - borad band : 10+ years
 

Publisher : Penguin 

Author & Illustrator : Devdutt Pattanaik