Habibur Rahman: The Andersen of the East
Kishore Rochonona Shomogro is a collection of essays aimed at children and young readers by the veteran author Habibur Rahman. The book has been diligently edited by Akhtar Hossain. Hossain himself is a celebrated children's author. Bangla Academy has awarded Hussain the Children's Literary Prize (Shishu Shahittya Purushkar) in 2011 for his significant contribution towards Children's Fiction. The moral endings of each of the story in the book is quintessential to combat terrorism and crime from our nation's youth. Hossain quoted: "The stories will help build morals and positive characterization among our youth at an early stage and they shall be growing up as responsible, good-citizens of this nation later in their lives." (Prologue, Akhtar Hussain).
Bangla Academy published the book back in September 2015. The prologue itself is 22-page long with an extensive biography of Rahman's early life as an author. The editor has brilliantly scrutinized every aspect of Rahman's literary life. What makes the prologue interesting is that it contains both positive and negative criticism by other veteran authors of the country on Rahman's literary work.
The entire book is a collection of Rahman's twelve renowned books of children's tales, fairy tales, children's poems and a few of Rahman's children's science-fictions. The book is compiled of nine books of Habibur Rahman. The nine books are subdivided in to many short stories and fables. There is a strong essence of Western Literature in the author's works. Most of his short stories and essays have been adapted from old British tales and American fairy-tales. However, through adding humour and dialects to the tales, Rahman has created his own versions of these tales and has won the hearts of millions of young people and children since decades. The stories have a Bengali feel and taste to them contrary to the Western version of these tales. Rahman has given these world classics a homely feel to the Bengali readers. Many of the compilations are Western Fables from Grimm Brothers, Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen. For instance, the book contains 'Gluttony can cause peril' (Porer Jinish e Lobh Korte Nai, Section 3 — Golper Fuljhuri) is an adapted version of "Woodcutter and the Fairy", an old English fable popular throughout the world. The book opens with the author's debut compilation of stories and the most popular one till now "Tales from the Sea" (Sagorer Rupkotha).
The book also consists of commentaries from several renowned authors and publishers. For instance, Shishutosh has quoted on Rahman's second published novel Tail tells the Tale (Lej Diye Jay Chena). Shishutosh commented: "Habibur has never mentioned anywhere that he has adapted the story from an American Folklore. He has neither mentioned the author of the original tales or the origins of this tale. But Rahman's exceptional capability to hold his readers till the end, and the dramatic execution of the plot is truly remarkable!"
This book will be a relief from the city chaos to the young readers. This is an indeed an absolute escape from our lives in the concrete jungle. The book is filled with vivid descriptions of exotic locations. Rahman's literary excellence and choice of words have added colour to stories. This is a brilliant initiative to publish such a book when our children's imaginative minds are taken up by technology. Tales like Hansel and Gretel, The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Frog, Thumbelina and such other Western Folk tales have been excellently adapted in Bengali in the book. Every culture and language has adapted these world class tales in their own languages. Rahman has bestowed his literary brilliance and has favoured our culture by doing the same. He took up the initiative to introduce our young readers with these world -class tales with our own language.