All Robi Dobi the elephant planned to do was make his way home through the storm to his family. But on the way, he meets a series of troubled creatures, each of whom he happily agrees to help. The magnificently magnanimous elephant keeps adding the needy to his troupe until he has a rag-tag bunch rivaling the crew of the Canterbury Tales. Kabbi Wahaabi is the orphaned mouse who has been spray-painted orange. Maya Wishkaya is the dancing butterfly who, in a feat of Icarus-style bravado, has broken her delicate wing. And finally comes the army of green parrots, on a mission to return Princess Tara to her kingdom.
In the course of battling Wicked Purple Panthers, searching for The Tree With the Flexible Glue, finding The Great Painter in the Sky, and taking revenge upon Slimey Kimey the snake-witch, Robi Dobi and company cover a lot of ground. In the process, the animals learn lessons in kindness, teamwork, patience, and taking turns, all drawing on traditional Indian myths and lore.
Madhur Jaffrey, well known for her Indian cookbook writing, uses rich and illustrative language, employing the repetitions and patterns embraced by countless folktales. Amanda Hall's beautifully colored Eastern illustrations reflect the fact that she herself traveled across India--nearly as extensively as Robi Dobi--to research Indian drawing and painting techniques. Hall's gorgeous artwork and Jaffrey's evocative prose vividly trace the pachyderm's philanthropic parade and make for great reading aloud. (Ages 8 and older)
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3. A mouse painted orange by an evil witch, a parrot princess captured by a troop of predatory purple panthers, and a broken-winged butterfly all figure in the adventures of Robi the elephant. A contemporary touch or two (e.g., spray paint) enlivens the mostly stock fairy-tale elements, as the friendly elephant meets and assists several troubled animals. Robi's willingness to help those in need is rewarded only by further adventure; episodic excitement, rather than a moral, seems to be the point of the narrative. In vignette, full-, and double-page formats, the illustrations freely interpret an Indian palette, style, and motifs. Pink, jade, lavender, turquoise, and bright orange pictures alternate with half-tones in the flat, stylized, but lively renderings. This book lacks the richness of Jaffrey's Seasons of Splendour (Puffin, 1987), but manages to keep readers' interest without ever allowing a doubt about the eventual happy ending.?Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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