Arefa Tehsin’s book ‘The Elephant Bird’ is about a young and brave girl Munia in a village called Adhania in India who befriends such a bird, whose species were believed to have wiped out due to increase of human settlements on the island and cutting down of forests.

The pictorial book, having traditional Gond art and illustrations, is published by Pratham under its 'Read India' movement in six languages including Hindu, Kannada, Marathi and English. The illustrations are by Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja.

The book begins with the disappearance of Vayu, one of the two horses in the village who pull carts. And everyone believes it is the elephant bird, only of its species living in Adhania, who has eaten the horse.

Though the villagers kept a safe distance from the bird, Munia was quite friendly to it. They had something in common – Munia could not walk properly as she limped and the bird could not fly as it had no wings.

The villagers were also angry with Munia for her closeness with the bird and held her equally responsible for the loss of Vayu. They wanted to kill the bird but things end on a positive note when Vayu is found.

The villagers were ashamed for their act. They now wanted to be friends with Munia and the bird.

Munia's tale reached many villages and the villagers in faraway hamlets whispered to each other, "Munia knew that giant one-feathered elephant bird had not swallowed the horse!"



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