The Yellow Bird
Lila Majumdar
Ajanta Guhathakurta
age group: 
7+ yrs
Number of pages: 
humour childhood
fiction, fantasy, humour


Childhood is all about innocence, make believe and incredulity. Lila Majumdar – a master storyteller, effectively explores these emotions in this award-winning novella. Originally written in Bengali, the book has been translated by her daughter Kamala Chatterjee.

Two siblings, Bogey and Rumu, are fed tall tales by their servant Jhogru, about his village - Dumka. In that village, trees can walk, horses have wings, and monkeys kneel down with folded hands to plead with the hunters for their lives!

When the children express their suspicion as to the veracity of the tales, Jhogru promptly responds with statements such as: “It seems you know nothing at all,” or, “the difference between you all and us is that we believe and accept whatever we see without wanting to know how that could happen,” and even, “You don’t want to believe in anything that is not written in books. But how much space is there to write in a mere book?”

Jhogru skillfully stretches their imagination taut like a rubber band, and quickly before it snaps, he releases the tension, thereby succeeding in taking the children into a world where fantasy and reality merge.  So much so, that they begin to suspect that their missing dog has been transformed into a human child by eating the yellow bird!

Artfully illustrated in black and white by Ajanta Guhathakurta seems to enhance the shades of grey that exist between reality and fantasy.

This delightful story with oodles of wit and humour, and a dash of over the top magic will enthrall, old and young alike. 


Reviewed by Shamim Padamsee