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Literature / Pinduli

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Pinduli is a short children's picture book by Janell Cannon. It was published in 2004.

The book begins with a young striped hyena named Pinduli waking up one warm afternoon. She decides to go explore the local water-hole by herself. While at the waterhole, Pinduli ends up bullied for her appearance (an African painted dog mocks her large ears, a lion comments on her mane when she erects it in a threat display, and a Grevy's zebra calls her stripes unpleasantly hazy). Suddenly self-conscious, Pinduli decides to pin her ears back, slick down her mane by soaking in the waterhole, and cover herself in dust to hide her stripes. The other animals mistake her for a ghost. Pinduli, using her ghostly appearance to her advantage, learns that the animals were previously bullied themselves, and took out their anger on her, so she makes the animals give her offerings and tells them to make amends with their bullies. Afterward, Pinduli returns home with food for her and her mother.

Cannon has also written Stellaluna, a similar picture book about a bat, and Verdi, about a snake.

Pinduli contains examples of:

  • An Aesop: Take pride in the way you look, and don't bully others.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The last four pages contain facts about the hyena family, and the other animals featured in the story.
  • Animal Religion: At the very least, the animals know what ghosts are. They also refer to "the Great Spirit".
  • Artistic License – Biology: Pinduli seems to be an only child. This is unlikely, unless she's the Sole Survivor of her litter.
  • The Bully:
    • The painted dogs tease Pinduli for her big ears, the lion for her prickly-looking mane, and the zebra for her stripes.
    • As it turns out, the animals were teased for their looks in the past. Dog was called "Butterfly Head" by a fennec fox, Lion was called mangy by a vulture, and Zebra was told by an owl that her stripes were garish.
      • But that's not all: Vulture was called Moonscape by a marabou stork, a puff adder said that Owl's stripes looked like scribbles, and a serval called Fox a wingless bat.
      • It all comes full circle when we learn that Zebra called Adder's stripes dull (in comparison to her own, presumably), Lion said that the glare of the sun on Marabou's head hurt his eyes, and Dog commented that he thought the wind might pick up Serval by his ears and blow him away.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Averted. No one is depicted eating each other, but Pinduli clearly sees Lion as a threat and the ending pages depict a brown hyena stealing an ostrich egg.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": With the exception of Pinduli, the animals are referred to by their species names.
  • Free-Range Children: Mama Hyena tells Pinduli to stay close by, though she does end up trotting a long way away.
  • Freudian Excuse: The animals tease Pinduli because they were once bullied themselves.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Painted Dog was bullied by a fennec fox. However, fennec foxes only occur naturally in the Sahara, the Sinai Peninsula, and Israel's Arava and Negev Deserts; this story is apparently set in the Tsavo region in southeastern Kenya, so Dog's tormentor ought to have been a bat-eared fox.
  • Unnamed Parent: Pinduli's mother is just called "Mama Hyena" or "Mama".
  • "Where? Where?": Pinduli asks this word-for-word about the ghost when unwittingly chasing the other animals. When she realizes she's the "ghost" they fear, she quickly rolls with it.