Ramayana by Sanjay Patel

written by:
March 9, 2010

My favorite book as a kid was unquestionably D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. I took it out of every branch of the Sacramento library, renewed it a hundred times and basically absorbed every story, hero, and diety. Though that's certainly set the bar Helios-high for illustrated takes on ancient tales, I could easily see illustrator and Pixar animator Sanjay Patel's new Ramayana: Divine Loophole entering the pantheon. As a retelling of the epic Hindu tale of Prince Rama (the seventh avatar of Vishnu), his bride Sita, the monkey god Hanuman, and the devliish Ravana, Patel scales the staggeringly long tome down to a digestible size withough loosing the richness of the narrative. And his illustrations--think Charley Harper doing storyboards for a mythological Mira Nair film--are sure to enchant kids, and adults, of all stripes. I enjoyed reading this version of the Ramayana immensely, and hope to gods some unsuspecting eight year-old finds his way into a whole new realm of divine delight. It's out now from Chronicle Books.

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  The cover of Ramayana: Divine Loophole shows Prince Rama squaring off against the demon king Ravana.
    The cover of Ramayana: Divine Loophole shows Prince Rama squaring off against the demon king Ravana.
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  Her purity vouchsafed by the fire god Agni, Sita and Rama are reunited after the epic battle.
    Her purity vouchsafed by the fire god Agni, Sita and Rama are reunited after the epic battle.
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  Rama strikes the final blow against Ravana, aiming Vishnu's bow at his navel, the monster's only weak spot.
    Rama strikes the final blow against Ravana, aiming Vishnu's bow at his navel, the monster's only weak spot.
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  Though she transformed herself into an alluring lady, the demon Soorpanaka can't tempt Rama away from his wife Sita.
    Though she transformed herself into an alluring lady, the demon Soorpanaka can't tempt Rama away from his wife Sita.
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  One of the better triptychs in the book, this one shows Rama's brother Lakshman (with a magical sword) on the left, Sita (in a golden sari) in the center, and Rama (with a divine golden arrow).
    One of the better triptychs in the book, this one shows Rama's brother Lakshman (with a magical sword) on the left, Sita (in a golden sari) in the center, and Rama (with a divine golden arrow).
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  Rama makes friends with Hanuman, Sugriva, and Jambavan, animals that would help marshal his forces against Ravana.
    Rama makes friends with Hanuman, Sugriva, and Jambavan, animals that would help marshal his forces against Ravana.
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  An epic battle between the jungle animals at Rama's command and Ravana's demon army.
    An epic battle between the jungle animals at Rama's command and Ravana's demon army.
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  Ravana vanquished and order restored, Rama and Sita take their place as king and queen.
    Ravana vanquished and order restored, Rama and Sita take their place as king and queen.

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