Pattan’s Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar is about a man who uses his smarts and quick thinking to save himself, his wife, and the animals from a terrible floor. It is a beautifully illustrated retelling of a traditional Indian flood myth that has been passed down for generations. Students will love the animals and the excitement of their journey, and teachers will love the lesson of Pattan’s resourcefulness and quick problem solving abilities.
There once lived a man named Pattan, who lived in the Sahyadri mountains with his wife Kanni. They lived by the river and cared for the animals who lived on their land. Pattan was a farmer who grew many types of foods such as nutmeg, bananas, and rice, and he was happy to share his blessings with everyone, including the animals. Pattan found a plant with beautiful flowers that looked like it needed some care, and he planted it near their hut. The plant thrived in its new location, and it soon became evident that it was a pumpkin. The animals loved the new addition and watched it each day. Soon, the pumpkin grew taller than the goats, and then taller than the fence. It became so tall that Pattan had to climb on the elephants just to check on the top!
One day the sky turned dark and the rain began to fall heavily. Pattan knew that they had to leave the mountains, for there was sure to be a dangerous flood from all of the rain. Pattan pondered through the night how he would be able to save himself, his wife, all of the nearby creatures, and their crops from the flood. Then he had an idea! The next morning, Pattan got to work hollowing out the giant pumpkin, which had grown as tall as the mountain. He climbed the mountain, cut open the top, and began digging. With the animals jumping in to help, the great pumpkin was finally ready and big enough for everyone to fit inside.
Kanni had gathered grain, seeds, and herbs from the valley, and Pattan loaded the sacks onto the animals to bring to the foothills. As the sky darkened, Pattan helped everyone, including the goats, pigs, elephants, birds, insects, and so many more, into the gigantic pumpkin. When it was time to go, he cut it free and off they rolled down the mountain and into the river. Many days and nights passed, until finally they reached the plains. They all enjoyed the sunshine before heading on their journey home the next day, leaving the life saving pumpkin behind. When they all returned to the valley, they built a new home by the river and Pattan planted the single pumpkin seed that he had saved. Pattan and Kanni had many children, who grew up and lived alongside them in their own homes in the foothills of the mountains.
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