Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sheep of the Lal Bagh

The Sheep of the Lal Bagh
David Mark ~ Lionel Kalish ~ Parents' Magazine Press, 1967

Sorry for not making it in yesterday. The theatrical version of If You Give a Pig a Party and 18 kindergarteners called. Recently, one of my dear friends laughingly called me judgy. Now I know she was ribbing me in that way only good friends can, but it still made me think. I have an opinion about pretty much everything. Often my opinions are very knee jerk and sometimes even uneducated, based on preconceived notions that have little basis in reality. Something my mother said a long time ago. Or an article I read where someone thought something else was stupid. Memories I have of thinking something was cheesy when I was five. Case in point, this book. I've had this book in my possession more than a handful of times. Always passing it along or selling it... judging it poorly by the cover for some unknown reason. Maybe I didn't like the colors or the curves. Or the sheep. Or the fact that it has a name I can not pronounce. For whatever reason, I'd never cracked it open. Not even once.

I often do this with books. I buy them solely because they are of a certain age that I like, but then, for whatever reason, I am put off from actually reading them, and they get passed over again and again for old favorites or new finds. So, in the spirit of being non-judgy, I've started scanning my bookshelves for those titles. The ones that we've had forever, but were being overlooked. To make a short story really, really long, basically, that's how me and the Lal Bagh became friends last week and my son found a new favorite.

Star date, the 1960s, somewhere in India.

In a little city in the heart of India there was a big park called the Lal Bagh. From miles around, the people, who worked very hard came to the Lal Bagh to relax and enjoy themselves on holidays. There is a lot of hard work in India, but there are also a lot of holidays. They came to see the big white petals on the lotus flowers opening and closing in the pond. And the rubbery plants and stickly plants and curly plants in the glass house. And the flame-of-the-forest trees that dotted the sky with orange. And the water in the fountain making rainbow splashes. But most of all, they came to see the lawn mower.

Ah, yes. Ramesh, the sheep who mows in circles and stars to the delight of citizens everywhere. But when the mayor decides Ramash doesn't mow fast enough, his funky, foliage designs are replaced by a push mower and all that was awesome goes to hell. This book is fabulous to look at and huge fun to read. What in the world was my problem? A great book, pushed aside one too many times by my judgy heart, but now forever beloved. I know there's a life lesson in here somewhere. I guess it's safe to say, I'm evolving. Slowly.


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Nan said...

I don't know how to pronounce Lal Bagh but do know it is the renown Red Garden, a botanical garden in Bangalore, India famous for its flower shows, glass house, and other enticements.

Did you notice the quirk in the interior illustrations? With the exception of a dog and two cats, all the faces, including the sheep, are side profiles.

To atone for judgmental sin I recommend you recite a Jack Prelutsky poem: :^D

Butter Brickle Peanut Butter Pickle
Pomegranate Pumpernickle
Peach Pimento Pizza Plum
Peanut Pumpkin Bubblegum

Lise said...

That's funny, because I've been giving all Parents' Magazine Press books I find a look, no matter how judgy I'm feeling about the cover or title or art or whatever, based on your recommendation. :-)

Books For Breakfast said...

That's interesting. Last night I read the Moon Jumpers by Udry and Sendak to the kids. We've had it forever, and I've never been compelled to sit down with it. The cover for me was a little blah, with that long, thick strip of magenta across the top. But I'm so glad we finally opened it last night. The kids poured over each color spread for awhile before they'd let me continue with the reading.

ChristyJan said...

I found this book today for 50 cents (in great condition)and bought it thanks to you. It's one I've never seen before and I can't wait to read to the kiddies.

Hopesclan said...

This was my absolute favorite book as a very small child!

My search for this book in adulthood has been challenged as my mother insists the title is "The Sheep of the La-La-Baah". Regardless of her pronunciation fuddles, I so thankful she still introduced this book to me.

Actually, I suspect I can credit this book for many childhood memories as my parents caved at my request for my own Ramesh. A live eating, breathing, pooping sheep of my very own!

Recently a friend visited Lal Bagh and the Gardens. No sheep to be found and surprisingly, the keeper never heard of this work of art. My friend sent him a copy.

Without Shadow said...

How delightful! I live in Bangalore, very near to Lal Bagh (pronounced laal baag - and usually string the two words together Lalbagh (bagh rhymes with carg in the word cargo but only if you have a British accent and don't roll your r's!)

It's a wonderful botanical garden, built in the 1800s I think, full of trees from all over the world. I'm pretty sure there's no lawn mower named Ramesh :-) but I love the idea!

Anonymous said...

I read this to my girls hundreds of times!! A friend posted a pic on FB of sheep grazing and my inner self started shouting, "Ramesh!"

I pronounced it lahl-bah, which is probably incorrect.

The artwork is so beautiful!

thanks for the memory.

JWB13 said...

This was written by my dear friend David Mark. I read it as a child and have always loved it. I am working on another picture book for him. It will be dedicated to his lovely memory as he passed away only two weeks ago. David was a wonderful storyteller, and inveterate city-walker. I knew him when he lived in NYC, but he lived in India for some time and this story is based in part on that time. I hope I will be able to do justice to his text. So glad you discovered & rediscovered this old wonderful favorite.

Anonymous said...

When I was a child we must have taken this book out of the library a hundred times but somewhere along the way I forgot the title of the book. I've been looking for it for years and finally rediscovered the title a few days ago.

I can't wait to find a copy and read it again as an adult.

Շɬɠɠ™ said...

I loved this book as a child. I have searched for it not remembering the name... Hooray!!!

KIC said...

This was like my favorite book as a kid. Right next to the Susie the Squirrel one. But omg I loved Ramesh and I loved this story. I wish I had it again.

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