The new Ramayana for children is entirely sweet, and the sour is missing. Tilottama Shome makes the epic easy for young readers, but leaves out some difficult questions. With this book, she neatly scoops up Valmiki’s entire magnum opus and presents it in a bite-sized work. Okay, at 200+ pages, it isn’t bite-sized but Shome’s easy language makes for a very smooth read. I, in fact, put her vocabulary to the test reading out parts of it to my 7-year-old brother and was asked “Bhai, what does that mean?” only a couple of times. One could, therefore, imagine the target group to be seven- to 10-year olds. Tilottama Shome’s narrative is magical. Her characters come alive in one’s imagination and on the pages with Priyankar Gupta’s gorgeous centrefold illustrations. I must admit to poring over those drawings more than once. Like Gupta’s deft strokes, Shome too paints her plot in child-friendly colours. For instance, in the Shurpanakha episode, she tackles the tricky bit about Lakshmana’s marital status very well. Rama’s giving the demoness the impression that his younger brother is “single” has always been a matter of ethical debate. Sattar delicately puts it as as Lakshmana being available “at the moment”. Then, in the golden deer episode, Shome steers clear of Sita’s allegations about Lakshman’s desire for her. Since the charges are sexual, they are sagely avoided in a children’s version of the story. And there are parts where the translation shows to us how greatly Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury had imagined the Ramayana for the children. There are stories which you may not know and details that really make this tale a must read for adults too for it’s details are such that even experts struggle remembering them. This account of Ramayana is like a Fairytale with its retinue of Kings, Queens, terrible villains, demons and ofcourse monkeys story unfolds as it does in the original text but in his detailing good vs evil has acquired a flavour of dark humour. Ram seems more like a human than an avatar of Vishnu and Ravana is the warrior who often breaks into tears. The characters may have their revered place in Hindu mythology but open Upendrakishore makes them approachable funny and flawed, and doing so has made the book ideal children’s version of the Epic. The Children’s Ramayana is a book with plenty of Palace intrigues, battles, magical creatures and human emotions rather than a distant and serious holy text. Every anecdote in the story is told with the hint of ireverrence mixed with humour as our children grapple with text books that overload them with whole data or unnecessary moralizing, Upendrakishore breaks down stereotypes about our mythological heroes. In these pages not only do they make mistakes or cry far more than any man is permitted to in our society they are also funny and sometimes cruel. The Children’s Ramayana is a secular story that is also the tail of a group of adventuring friends who vanquish level and win the princess back. Upendrakishore does not dilute the moral value of the Epic even as he makes an energetic adventure story that children will enjoy. Overall speaking, we ought not to remove every thorn before we hand over the roses of legacy to our children. That said, Sattar’s Ramayana for Children is rather sweet.