Journey to the City of Six Gates
Graeme Macqueen
Saudha Kasim
age group: 
12+ yrs
Number of pages: 
value education trees adventure
fiction, fantasy


Two children, Prince Satya and Princess Mati journey to the city of six gates to rescue their parents who have been captured by one of their arch-enemies.
The journey is long and arduous, in which shorn of the trappings of palace life, the children travel on foot, eat grass seed rotis and fruits and sleep under the canopy of the trees with only a loyal servant to accompany them.

The story could have been another me-too kind of adventure but somehow it emerges as an unusual fantasy. In the jungle they meet the enigmatic Roti Baba who imparts to each of them a special skill that changes their perception and attitude towards the trees. They  learn not only to respect them but also to communicate with them.

Mati the Green, as she gets to be called, discovers that, “They feel thirst! They feel cold and heat! They feel the wind! ...they are as alive as we are!”
She understands that if one respects the trees, the steady ones, they go all out to share their ageless wisdom, to lend a helping hand and even warn them of dangers along their way. She also realises that she had been chosen to play a very special role; that of The Keeper of the forests.

Whereas, Satya learns to climb the trees effortlessly, as one with the trees, as in a graceful dance. He saw no climber. he saw nothing climbed. he saw two dancers dancing. and he cried: Dance! Dance!

Even though the book has some blood and gore, the forests and the trees almost seem to take centrespace, and somehow succeeds in permeating the book with a sense of tranquility and quietude.

A powerful message of conservation and protection of our forests subtly woven through an unusual tale.

Reviewed by Shamim Padamsee