Arvind Krish Bala and his friend, Natarajan, an Irula tribesman, were perched
on a treetop at a waterhole in the Parambikulam reserve forest in Kerala.
They were waiting to sight a tiger. That was when Natarajan told him the
story of his first encounter with a black panther in the Anaimalais, 'elephant
hills', in the Western Ghats running through Kerala and Tamilnadu. Natarajan
had been roaming the Anaimalais for more than forty years and he knew
every bird there, and everything about it. But the one animal he had never
seen in all those years was the black panther. "It was my son who first
sighted the magnificent black beast," said Natarajan, proudly.
Black Panther tells Natarajan's story through Veera's voice and Ashok
Rajagopalan's stunning pastels. Together, they bring to life a silent, secretive,
shy creature and create in the reader a sense of curiosity, wonder, and not a little fear.
Aravind Krish Bala used to trek in the Western Ghats and bring back stories and pictures for his little daughter, Spatika. She thought her father
owned those forests. Now, she knows that we all own the forests. His first tale
for her from the wild was about the black panther. So, it is special. Aravind used to be a teacher, and is now a journalist writing on environment,
wildlife and conservation.
Ashok Rajagopalan is a storyteller, animator, illustrator and writer. He has illustrated several books, and recently published his 'own' picture book with Tulika, a story about a lovable elephant, called Gajapati Kulapati. He lives with his wife and two children in a peaceful suburb of Chennai.
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