Maya is a beautiful book, lyrical and poetic. Maya is an anxious little girl who has lost her father and lives with her understanding mother. It is nighttime in the city, and the lights have gone out for the third time in a week.
In the dark, Maya’s heart is filled with fear. But her understanding mother tells her a wonderful story about a monsoon and a banyan tree. The tree, growing from the waters, housed many creatures in its branches: a peacock, a tiger, a monkey, a snake, even an elephant. The banyan tree, by draining the waters of the flood, saved the people and the creatures from the monsoon, gave shelter, and banished fear.
After hearing the story, it was time for sleep. But while her mother slept, Maya could not. Her heart was filled with fear, trembling at the sounds she heard–until she remembered her mother’s story. Encouraged by her mother’s thoughtful caring, and remembering also how her father told stories that she loved, Maya looked with fresh eyes on the creatures of the night. The story helped Maya to see that what she had feared was actually benign and reassuring. In the warmth of her mother’s story, and her father’s memory, Maya felt her fear float away.
As a psychotherapist working with children and their families for almost thirty years, I found much to treasure in this book. Parents need to remember always how important they are to their children. Storytelling is still a time-honored and welcome way for parents to impart knowledge and understanding to their children, and to strengthen their family connections.
My thanks to Allison MacLachlan of Owlkids Books for making a copy of Maya available for me to read and review.