Discussion & Activity Guide
Come and meet a greedy group of pickle-swapping, crow-culling, revenge-seeking crooks! Prince Veera with the help of his best friend Suku, returns to settle the problems in his father’s court.
About the Author
Chitra Soundar is an Indian born British writer of children’s books. Her books have been translated into many languages including Chinese, Japanese, French amongst others. She lives in England with an imaginary herd of giraffes and a number of miniature robots. Read a Q&A with her at http://www.walker.co.uk/contributors/Chitra-Soundar-8031.aspx and find out more at www.chitrasoundar.com.
Rationale for discussing this book in your classroom
Explore India in a fictional setting, colourful, fun and humourous way. Explore the concepts of right vs wrong, good vs evil and justice vs injustice in the tradition of trickster folklore. This book is a great resource for KS2 and KS3 children to discuss politics, justice, rule of law and more importantly the joy of friendship.
Read out the title of the book. Ask the children to draw what they think a jar might look like. From the title, can they guess the type of book it would be? Where are the stories from? What would the stories be about?
Ask the children about Justice. What does it mean? What is the opposite of justice? Have they experienced justice or injustice before? Can they give an example of either.
Encourage the children to observe the cover and write down everything they can spot and recognise. Can they recognise where the stories are set? What can they recall about India? How is India different from where they live?
Source some images of India including a map, flag and places of interest. Ask the children to cut and paste and create a collage.
Draw the Indian flag and colour it.
Discuss the significance of the colours and the wheel on the flag.
- a) Read the first two pages.
- b) Who is the story about? Who are the two main characters?
- c) What do we know about them? Where do they live? What ages are they?
- d) What are their hobbies and interests?
- e) What do they study in school? How is it different or similar to what you study?
- f) Do you think the story is set in the present or in the past? How can you tell?
- g) Are the two main characters similar or different? How do they seem different? Fill in the differences in a table.
|First Character||Second Character|
- h) Can you list all the places referenced in the first two pages?
Allow the children to read until Page 10. Do they understand what’s happening? Are there words they do not understand? Are these words from a different language or just new words?
Using the cover images as guide, can the children draw pictures of the scenes in the first ten pages.
Can they pick out words that describe the place where the story is set?
Can they pick out words that give us clues about King Bheema and Prince Veera? What do these words tell us about them?
“Bite off more than you can chew” – what does this mean? This is an idiom. Can they think of other idioms they have read before?
Story By Story
All’s well with Mango Pickles
In this story, there are two different cases, involving neighbours. Read the story and encourage discussion around the following themes.
- In the first case involving the well and its water, name the two people arguing about the well and the water.
- Where was King Bheema going?
- What was the king searching for before his trip?
Using an ipad or encyclopedia, find out where Benares is? Can you draw a travel brochure for Benares? What is the name of the river that flows through Benares?
- Look up what tender mangoes look like on the Internet?
- Can you draw a bunch of tender mangoes hanging from a mango tree?
- Are the words mango and mangrove related? How?
- What does the word summoned (page 20) mean? What does it indicate about the person being summoned?
- In Page 23, Veera and Suku eat a meal at Suku’s house. What does that say about Veera and his friendship with Suku?
- Can you find a spinach and lentil recipe from India from the Internet?
- Look up lentils and find out how many type of lentils are there. What nutrients do lentils provide?
- Can you make a story map of the second case in this story? Take turns to tell the story in a group.
- Why was there a charge to draw water from the well? Was Gopu right in charging for the water?
- After the case of the pickles was solved, Prince Veera spoke to the minister to help people who travel. What was Veera’s idea.
Freezing Lakes and Missing Crows
- What are palm fruits? Look them up.
- When Veera and Suku were bored, what did they plan to do to spend time? List them here.
- Who was the visitor in the other tent?
- King’s Bheema’s uncle ignored Suku repeatedly. What does it tell us about him?
- Why did Raja Apoorva disapprove of Prince Veera’s court?
- What is the legend about the crows in the kingdom of Himtuk?
- When Prince Veera and Suku agreed to count the crows, what ideas did they come up with? Did any of it work?
- In the second story in this chapter, a poor man asks for work. Do you know where someone in Britain might go looking for jobs?
- Investigate a bit more. Look up birds of India on your iPad or an encyclopedia. What other birds can you find? Are these birds familiar to you?
- Investigate a job vacancy advertisement in a newspaper. What are the various types of jobs available? What kind of things should someone study to get these jobs?
- Can you write an advertisement for a job?
- Think about how Prince Veera solved Omkar’s problem? Did he fight head on? Did he play a trick? Why was Veera’s method effective?
- Veera was happily cooking in Suku’s house. What does it tell you about their friendship? Do you think a prince can be normal as a farmer’s son.
- The guard charges money for letting people in. What is this practice called?
- Can you look up the list of most corrupt countries in the world? Why do you think people are corrupt?
- In the second story, a man’s life is in peril due to a superstition. Can you look up world’s famous superstitions – especially among sports personalities?
- The king plays along with Veera even when he recognises his son in the courtroom. What does it tell you about the king?
- Can you discuss amongst yourselves and write a list of superstitions you have?
- Think about what Suku tells Veera about honouring the verdict of the neighbouring kingdoms. Do we have such a practice in modern world?
- Are superstitions bad for you? Or are some better than others? Which ones would you be okay to believe in?
Grey Elephants and Five Fools
- Look up Airavatha – the celestial white elephant and discuss how similar or different is it to other mythical creatures like Pegasus.
- Name five mythical beasts that you know about.
- Why does the potter decide to bring a story about his dream to the king? What was he hoping to achieve?
- Where does the potter go after he leaves the palace? Do you think he would ever return?
- Suku’s aunt explains how to wash clothes. Can you discuss how people wash their clothes in modern Britain?
- Veera thinks the poet is not being honest. What is the name of a person who says only good things about you hoping you would reward him?
- Why doesn’t the king get upset with Veera for calling him a fool?
- Can you explain why each of the three fools that Veera picked up are considered fools?
- In the story of Five Fools, who do you think are the last two fools and why?
Have you read the first book in this series – A Dollop of Ghee and a Pot of Wisdom? A discussion guide for this book has been created by Just Imagine centre. Click here to view.
Visit Chitra’s website to get more resources – www.chitrasoundar.com and www.chitrasoundar.com/kids .
Download this discussion guide as a PDF.