#BookReview – The Gular Flower – A Quest for the Mysterious Flower in the World of the Paardhis

In collaboration with Tulika Books, we present book reviews every month of new age stories and age old fables, to preserve and promote the habit of reading amongst all children.

Nature does not discriminate. Nature invites, intrigues, and inspires all equally. In The Gular Flower, it is the rare sighting of the gular, or the cluster fig, flower that has caught little Renchu’s fascination. However, is that all this book is about? Little Renchu’s quest for an elusive flower, her desperation of proving that she is as lucky as her sister, Pirku, and friend Saanish, who claimed to have seen the flower. Yes and No.

Yes, The Gular Flower can be cited as an innocent tale of a young girl desperate to see a flower, of which she has only heard stories. However, a peek at the author, Rinchin’s, background, inspiration, and previous work tells us that there is more to this innocent tale.

Writer and activist Rinchin has set The Gular Flower in the world of Paardhi tribal displaced from the forests. The book takes inspiration from the author’s wonder at discovering the secret of the gular flower, much later in life than Renchu; however, the story is much more layered.

Pirku and Saanish are best friends and are inseparable from each other. They often exclude Renchu from their secret conversations, until one day when they see her inching close to eavesdrop. To distract her, they lie to her saying that they saw the marvellous gular flower, which only a lucky few have seen. They add to the mystery of the flower by tempering the story with the flower’s rare and instantaneous bloom during the full moon in the month of Magh, or was it Karthik?

This story sets the wheels in motion to Renchu’s quest for the elusive gular nu phool or the gular flower.

Renchu, Pirku, and Saanish pick rags together. Renchu helps her mother fill water in every kupi, dabba, and bucket since the arrival of summer means water would come only once in three days. This captivating backdrop of the characters, steeped in reality, coupled with a smattering of the tribal language, adds multiple layers to the story and sets it apart from other children’s books.

The minimalist, yet striking, illustrations by Vipul Verma take the young readers (for ages 6+) right into Renchu’s world. They see her amidst a pile of rags, they see her in the queue waiting to get her buckets filled, and they see her lazing under the gular tree awaiting the sight of the mysterious flowers.

Published by Tulika Publishers, The Gular Flower was shortlisted for the 2020 Neev Book Award for the Best Picture Book.

The Gular Flower offers a multitude of lessons for its young readers—from being introduced to native tribes, their challenging lives, the variation in Indian languages that come with the changing Indian landscapes to learning the life lesson of not quitting on what you seek, no matter the naysayers.

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