|Rani Kanchan Mala and Other Stories
Runa Khan Marre
ISBN 984 05 1482 2 2000 92pp 240x175mm HB Tk.225.00 US$20.00
Like other Bengali children, the writer Runa Khan Marre heard fairy tales from her old nannies and other household storytellers. Now she has compiled these stories in a simplified English translation for other children to read.
Many of the tales are common to both Bangladesh and West Bengal. Some of them may be found in Thakur Ma’s Jhuli, compiled by D. M. Majumdar. Runa Khan Marre’s versions are slightly different, being filtered through the several retellings that these stories have undergone.
In common with fairy tales everywhere, these stories are about love, jealousy, bravery, loyalty, nobility, meanness, compassion, and, finally about the triumph of truth and patience. Easy enough for young children to read, they may also be read out to children at bedtime stories.
Winner of the Ashoka fellowship award in 1996, for her innovative method of teaching junior school children, Runa Khan Marre’s educational books are now amongst the very few of the government approved text books for schools in Bangladesh. These books, which emphasize critical thinking and self-directed learning, have been instrumental in significantly improving student performance.
Runa’s diverse background includes teaching, writing books, promoting entrepreneurial ventures, and fashion designing.
Runa, along with her husband and their three children, are settled in Bangladesh. With her husband, a renowned French sailor and adventurer, she is at present, concentrating on trying to portray a positive face of Bangladesh to the West, through river tourism on the country boats whose original shapes and craftsmanship and are disappearing over time.