Hello World is a beautiful new story book retold by Shazneen Rabadi Gandhi and illustrated by Gulshan Pagdiwala. As described, it tells the simplified version of the Zoroastrian Story of Creation.
Book review by Mehernaaz and Ava Irani
This book, sitting there at the table im mediately caught my eye and as I went to it, Ava was drawn too. The illustrations are superb and excite the imagination in a colourful and engaging way. Just flipping the cover made my daughter go wow! The inner cover pages are a colourful celestial image. The kind of Dadaji’s home my multi colour obsessed 4 year old would love to believe is the truth.
To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a creation story in our faith. So we quickly dived in. For me, it was a learning experience at a micro level. For Ava, it was literally a door opening on how God thought. She learnt about Ahriman and actually used the name then as part of her vocab to refer to bad things, including everyday things like littering her surroundings. The creation of the world and the protection that Ahura Mazda bestowed upon his creations shows up wonderfully. The storytelling itself is, I think probably intended for older children, but older kids are a little out of stock currently in our home. There were some concepts and words which I found difficult to explain to a 4 year old but on the whole she got the story. An 8 year old (I guess.. there’s no age suggestion) would devour the book. The death of Gayomard and the birth of the first man and the first woman and their beautiful story, was like a little story within the story and I got the opportunity to explain to my daughter about patience and how it was a virtue.
And every page turn made Ava’s eyes wide. The illustration for Ahriman evokes the negativity it intends. The Amesha Spentas are ethereal. My favourite was Ameretat, avestan name of the Pahlavi Amardad meaning immortality. And in some ways, the illustrations speak for themselves. Just flipping the pages, Ava remembered the story in bits but figured the rest out only by looking at the pictures.
A neat addition to the book is the Notes at the end of the book. There’s alternate names for the Amesha Spentas mentioned earlier in the book. It also asks questions, that a young Zoroastrian would ask or should ask. However, some of these questions aren’t open ended and it might have been nice to have answers, e.g. who wrote the Zoroastrian story of creation? Where does it come from?
A most important take away from this book was when Ahura Mazda thought about being so good that evil can have no power over it. I could literally see my daughter think about this one.
I loved this book because it told me a story I didn’t know existed about our faith (nobody’s fault but mine). There are many about the birth and life of Zarathustra and various other concepts of our religion. This one is refreshing and new. For those who know this story already, it’s a wonderful read with colourful pleasing illustrations that make the story jump out of the pages. It opened up a conversation about creation, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman and good and evil for my 4 year old and is equipped to keep that conversation going. That, in my mind makes this a must have.
The book shall be released in mid-June this year and should be available on Amazon.com