Iora & the Quest of Five
Arefa Tehsin
age group: 
12+ yrs
Number of pages: 
Finger Print!
animals adventure
fiction, fantasy


The Twitters are in trouble! No, not just them, the future of the entire Rainforest is at stake and all the creatures that dwell within! The Dark Anti-Natural Forces are at work, and must be defeated. Little Iora and her friends Owlus and Beetle the Agogwe, venture forth to save their world from being destroyed and embark upon an unparalleled adventure in the rainforest. Chinar the little city living boy lost in the jungles, separated from his father and his companions also joins in their incredible journey, their quest to find the Angels of the forest who will help them.

There are some aspects which for me make a book interesting and worthy—not the story nor its intent, really, but the characters, the descriptions, and the narrative tempo : for all these reasons Arefa’s book comes out tops.

She is a highly imaginative writer, and the characters she has created are indeed charming, and her woodland images exotic, a mix of fantasy and realism. She puts forward a pithy philosophy of hope, friendship and commitment to the environment. This children’s book is in the tradition of the writers like C S Lewis and JK Rowling, yet much like the new Indian writing where there is an unselfconscious amalgam of the Western and Indian ways of understanding the world , also apparent in the names,( like the Wacky Wilderness, Owlus, the Twitters, the Pebbles, but also Baba the Orangutan).

The characters each have their own ways of communicating and even different ways of speaking, --for example Daddy Long Legs the giant insect adds a squashy “sh”sound to words, while the Pebbles who live in the swamp make a ‘krrrk’ sound between words!

The pace is quick, with ever changing locales within the rainforest, with constant interventions of newer characters mostly in the form of animals, sometimes headhunters and morphed creatures –Arefa has left no holds barred to let fly her imagination and create a rich green world of forest canopies, swamps, lianas, underwater beings, singing fanged poison frogs, rainbow serpents, buttressed magical trees with ‘mouths” that provide underground shortcuts to distant places, and much, much more!

In a beautiful green paperback cover, this is a book children between 7 and 14 would enjoy reading and it would rouse in them the desire to discover the rainforest and its inhabitants.

Reviewed by Mariam Karim-Ahlawat