A name like Gajapati Kulapati is enough to bring the laughter back into storytelling, and Ashok Rajagopalan doesn’t quite stop with just the name.
The story of the big temple elephant catching a cold after getting wet in the rain is testimony to a vivid imagination, and what happens thereafter is testimony to the author/illustrator’s tangible sense of humour. Gajapati Kulapati’s every sneeze causes pandemonium, ending with the wise counsel of a grandmother to build a shed for the temple elephant.
The success of this story is in its narrative. Ashok relies heavily on the natural rhythm of words and sounds and places them cleverly on the page. So if there is a pachaak when the banana falls on the postman's head, then there is a damaal when the postman falls on the cow.
The sneeze itself portrays many avatars on the page, sometimes even compromising on another scene's presentation. So if one page of the story is neatly spaced out, the other is cramped. The rhythm Ashok captures so wonderfully with his words is sadly missing in the overall layout, with even the illustrations taking a backseat.
Gajapati Kulapati is clearly a story to be read out loud, giving your child the wonderful gift of playing with and discovering the infinite sounds of words, peppered with the unmistakable stamp of laughter.
This book is also available in: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu.