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Kaala's jungle adventure

Last updated: 22 December, 2011
Kavitha K 17:27 IST

What happens when people and wild animals meet? Can people live respectfully with king cobras?

The answers, my friend, lie in a lovely book called ‘A King Cobra’s Summer’. The story begins on a dramatic note.

Kaala, the king cobra in our story, is well and truly lost. After swallowing a whole python and making a hearty meal of it, slumbering Kaala has been caught by humans and released into a strange jungle.

In the unfamiliar forest, he meets all kinds of creatures, from humans who insist on worshipping him to porcupines. The poor snake is on the run! He struggles to find his way home — to his beloved areca nut plantation, where he is king and where, he hopes, his friend Lila is waiting for him.

As he slithers across treacherous terrain, he meets animals that have ‘snakes’ masquerading as trunks! As he prepares to swim across a mighty river, he indulges in a spot of nostalgia. He yearns for his mother, whom he has never seen, and for the siblings, he has never met. You know what? Life as a king cobra — in exile — can get pretty tough and lonely!

But Kaala is a good-natured chap. And he shares snake truths about moulting, feeding, nesting and growling as he tries to find his way home. And finally, when he is home, he encounters his arch enemy, Ketu, another king cobra who has designs not just on his beloved areca nut plantation but also on Lila.

Was Kaala’s danger-fraught journey worth the trouble?

Janaki Lenin weaves a wonderful tale, interspersing it with fascinating facts. And illustrator Maya Ramswamy brings every creature and landscape alive. Clearly, the author and illustrator are keen wildlifers. And so will you be when you finish reading this little gem of a story from Pratham Books.

Title: A King Cobra’s Summer
Pages: 36; Price: Rs 45

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