This month, the BookKids team takes on the Reading Without Walls challenge! Below, our Art Director, Tomoko, writes about her experience reading outside her comfort zone. For more posts in this series, click here.
I’ve been dying to read Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi because it’s based on a subject I know nothing about: Hindu mythology! I am a huge fan of ancient myths and legends, and I’ve pored over the stories of heroes from millennia-past since childhood. The incredible monsters, the impossible tasks, the clever solutions to death-defying puzzles — I loved these stories and gobbled up all I could find, but somehow never managed to dive into old Hindu mythology. Thankfully, Aru Shah provides!
With vivid descriptions of the deities of ancient India (who are often colorful, with multiple limbs and celebrity-like figures) Roshani shares the stories of the old heroes, borrowing from the Mahabharata, and Ramayana (ancient epic poems written in Sanskrit) and regaling readers with a youthful, contemporary voice.
Much like her predecessors, Roshani’s heroine, Aru Shah, has made a bad choice and now must dig deep within herself (and find a friend or two) for the resolve to fix the mess she’s made! Aru herself is a demi-god, celestial daughter of Lord Indra — king of the heavens. She is the reincarnation of Arjuna, third eldest of the Pandava brothers.
What I love most about reading new mythology is the experience of absorbing information that is new to me, and old or familiar to others. Concepts and visuals I’ve never imagined before are conjured by my brain, combining half-remembered artwork with the fresh text. It’s such a wonderful and unique experience (and probably why I’m such a fan of fantasy and science fiction books!) and when an author like Roshani Chokshi is doing the describing, the pictures that play through my head are vibrant, rich, and familiar enough that I have no trouble finding parallels in my own life.
Like when Rhoshani describes the Court of the Ritus (the seasons): not only are there six (India observes six ecological seasons: Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, Fall/Pre-Winter, and Winter), Chokshi has painted them as brilliant and dismissive fashion designers that would be perfectly at home on Project Runway. Or Roshani’s fantasy Costco that acts as a magical portal for all types of myths and legends, and lets Aru and her companions pass through a TSA-like security checkpoint to reach the Night Bazaar — a marketplace filled with everything you could ever possibly want to need. Roshani’s descriptions of “crowns of light”, “trees half-dipped in fire,” or “dripping honey” paint grand scenes that keep me enthralled — and then laughing, when I remember that Aru is still wearing Spiderman pajamas.
Reading a book about a subject I knew nothing about was such an enjoyable experience! I can’t wait for the next Aru Shah book when I can dive back into the world of ancient Hindu mythology.
Aru Shah and the End of Time is our latest Books By Mail pick for older readers! Books By Mail is a subscription box that includes a signed book we’re excited about, as well as a special gift, a Q&A with the author, and a unique item you won’t find anywhere else! Subscribe here to receive Aru Shah and the End of Time!