Ruru the little rooster’s story unfolds in a moment of panic. Rooster Day is coming, and he has no rooster song. How can he be a rooster if he has no song? Now it’s not that Ruru can’t sing; he loves singing and his head and heart are bursting with new and wonderful songs every second. But he doesn’t have the song. Natasha Sharma and Priya Kuriyan walk you through a delightful swirl of words and colors, as Ruru traipses the neighborhood, trying to understand the songness of songs. The quintessence of the cow’s moo, the donkey’s bray, the kitty’s miaow. Ever the diligent student Ruru tries and tries to learn their songs; and learn them he does, in true Ruru fashion. The big hiccough is of course, that they are Ruru’s songs, not the cow’s or donkey’s or cat’s song and Ruru is devastated, convinced that he will never be a real rooster.
Concluding in a heart-warming affirmation of selfhood, and celebrating not only heterogeneity but also the ability to learn new things, albeit in one’s own special way, Rooster Raga reminds its readers that life, like music, is entirely about community; and belonging to a community is not about being a clone Au contraire, communities are made of several little bits of differences and belonging is an amalgam of inconsistencies, something that Priya Kuriyan captures very beautifully in her final illustration of the rooster and hen community- replete with hens, chicks and roosters of every description. Her art work is clean and expressive, complementing the simplicity of the story in just the right ways.
Rooster Raga reminds one a little of another delightful story, Elephants Never Forget, but with none of the pathos of the lost, wounded elephant, raised by buffaloes, trying to find its elusive self. What the two stories do have in common however, is the single most important thing that many of us realize too late, the pretty wish that Natasha Sharma makes in the last page of Rooster Raga, for two children- “May you always discover what makes your heart sing”. An easy story, with familiar animal companions and plenty of new animal songs to try out- Rooster Raga is definitely a cute addition to the shopping cart.
Anjana Raghavan is a social science researcher based in Chennai. She loves stories and music - children's books and fantasy literature are her particular favourites. When she's not working, cooking and blowing soap bubbles are her favorite things to do.