________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 2 . . . . September 19, 1997

cover The Peacock's Pride.

Melissa Kajpust. Illustrated by Jo'Anne Kelly.
Winnipeg, MB: Hyperion Press, 1996.
Unpaged, board, $19.95.
ISBN 1-895340-12-8.

Subject Headings:
Legends-India-Juvenile literature.
Peafowl-Folklore-Juvenile literature.

Preschool - grade 4 / Ages 4 - 9.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


One day, long ago, Peacock strutted through the forest with his royal blue crown held high. In the flickering light, his long back feathers created a magnificent blue-green fan that shimmered like sapphires and emeralds. He stopped beneath a banyan tree that grew near a water hole and turned his heavy plumage slowly, hoping to attract the admiration of a group of birds sitting on the branches above him. But the birds had more immediate concerns.
image In this Indian pourquoi tale, when a viper continues to linger near the area's only water hole, the jungle birds face a dilemma: dying from dehydration or from being eaten by the treacherous snake. Vain Peacock tells the birds that his "hypnotic beauty will easily defeat" the snake for "my fan has a thousand eyes that will stare Old Viper into a trance. I'll then seize him by the neck and kill him." Peacock's actions will carry a price, however: "If I succeed, everyone must acknowledge me king of the water hole." Despite some misgivings, the birds agree, and Peacock dispatches the snake as promised. In the weeks that follow, the King of the Water Hole becomes increasingly imperious in his demands. Finally the birds decide that they must rid themselves of him. A Koel, a timid, plain black bird, challenges Peacock, saying, "Would you agree...to give up your kingdom if I can prove that my beauty is every bit as great as yours?" Seeing the drab bird before him, Peacock readily agrees. When Koel begins to pour forth a remarkable song, an impressed Peacock admits "that it is as beautiful as my feathers," but he still believes that his own "song will be every bit as beautiful." Unable to produce anything more than a discordant two-note shriek, a chastened Peacock must acknowledge he has been bested, "and that is how Peacock came to drag his train of feathers behind him, no longer blinded with pride."

      Kelly's watercolour and gouache illustrations fill the pages with an abundance of colour and capture the lushness of India's forests. A concluding "Author's Note" provides useful background information for adults and older child readers. This well written story, with its "pride-goes-before-a-fall" moral, is a most worthwhile addition to the folklore shelves.

Highly recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and adolescent literature courses at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364