________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 16 . . . . April 13, 2001

cover Ekki Dokki: A Marathi Folktale.

Sandhya Rao (Reteller). Illustrated by Ranjan De.
Madras, India: Tulika (Distributed in Canada by The Banyan Tree, 2355 Fifth Lane West, Unit 46, Mississauga, ON, L5K 2M8), 1996.
24 pp., pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 81-85229-32-5.

Subject Heading:

Kindergarten - grade 3 / Ages 5 - 8.

Review by L.M. Sykes.

*** /4


Ekki Dokki, a Marathi folktale re-told by Rao and part of the "Wordbird" series, shares the story of two young sisters living with their family in India. The sisters' names reflect their uncommon appearance: Ekki having a single hair upon her head and Dokki having two hairs. Despite her appearance, Ekki is a kind and humble girl, the opposite of her vain, mean-spirited sister, Dokki.

"One day, Ekki got so fed up with her sister, she ran away.
Into the jungle she ran, deeper and deeper.
The jungle was very quiet .
Suddenly she heard a voice. The voice said:
"Water! Somebody give me water! I am thirsty!"

Ekki's willingness to help others during her time in the jungle is observed and rewarded by "a wizened old woman." Following her sister's transformation into a beauty with "thick, long, black tresses...like silk," Dokki is eager to claim her own reward. However, due to her insensitive behaviour, Dokki is punished by becoming bald, and, "weeping and stumbling," she makes her way home.

      Rao's simple, straightforward language and the quick pace of the tale will hold a young audience's attention. Similarly, the stylized pen and marker drawings of Ranjan De are filled with vivid colours and appealing characters and scenery. The illustrations convey the flavour of India and add depth to the story.

      As a folk-tale, Ekki Dokki introduces readers to and fosters an appreciation of another culture. The "word-birds" which appear on some pages define unfamiliar vocabulary but do not contain phonetic information which makes correct pronunciation of certain words difficult. As well, it would have been helpful to have had a world map included to allow readers to visualize exactly where the story takes place and the distance between their own country and India.

      Despite a rather sudden ending, Ekki Dokki is an enjoyable story and example of the folk tale genre. It is sure to promote discussion regarding the lessons learned by the characters and through its being compared to other familiar tales.


Lisa Sykes, who has worked as an early-years teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB, is currently on maternity leave and is enjoying her time at home with her two young children.

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

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