Title: Angry Riveragnry-river
Author: Ruskin Bond
Illustrator: Trevor Stubley
Pages: 88
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★

One of the stranger stories I’ve encountered in my readings.

The Story.

Sita loves the island on which she lives with her grandfather and grandmother. There they live under the protective branches of a sacred tree and raise chickens and crops.  Sita could live there forever!

But this is not to be. First, grandmother becomes ill and grandfather takes her to the mainland to have her cured. He leaves the home and livestock in Sita’s charge for the brief time that they will be gone. Although Sita behaves competently, a great flood soon threatens her home and eventually drives her off of the island.

Will Sita live through the storm? And will her grandmother be all right?

Discussion.

Sita is a mature, responsible young woman. When her grandfather and grandmother go to the mainland, they leave her in charge of their home on the island. She stays there and does her best to protect their property until circumstances out of her control force her to leave the island.

The biggest problem of Angry River was the religious content. It seemed to be wholly faithful to the Hindu religion and spoke of Vishnu, the Preserver of all good things, as well as Hanuman, the monkey-god. Devils and spirits are mentioned as well as ‘gods’ (in the plural).

When the flood comes, Sita is rescued by a young man named Krishan. Later, Sita thinks “he looked blue in the moonlight, the colour of the young god Krishna, and for a few moments Sita was confused and wondered if the boy was indeed Krishna.” [pg. 66] She goes on to dream that he is the god, Krishna, and that together they are flying on a great white bird towards the “cloud-land of the gods”.

Sita sometimes talks with her doll, Mumta. Bond writes that “Mumta always answered Sita’s wuestions, even though the answers could only be heard by Sita.” [pg. 21] I’m used to children pretending that their dolls can talk, but this was extra-freakish because the dolls answers are recorded (i.e., Mumta said this and Mumta said that).

One boy states that “We [people] are a part of the river” and “we cannot live without it.” [pg. 87]

The boy, Krishan, is described as wearing only a loincloth. There are several illustrations of him in the aforementioned garb.

Conclusion. Meh. If a child is old enough to be thinking through the religious concepts presented in Angry River, I suggest that he find a more serious treatment of Hinduism than this one.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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