In ancient times, the Chinese said that ‘at the time of inspiration’, the poet flew from one world to another, ‘riding on dragons’. This sudden great flight or leaping up out of the conscious world of rational perception into the fantastic realms of the subconscious is what gives good poetry its peculiar force and its fascinating charm.
Deepak Dalal’s Vikram Aditya series, of which The Snow Leopard forms a part, are a truly delightful addition to literature for children written in India. C.S Lewis once remarked that a ‘a children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.’
How did story come to be born? The stories in this collection show how, overarmed by the forces of nature and strange and mysterious natural phenomena, early man invented stories to explain everything—lightning and thunder, the sun, the moon and the Milky Way birds and beasts and forests.
Vibrant colors and a quirky illustration of a pink monster with autorickshaw horns, draws you in. Flip through the book to assess it, and the Indian names gladden your heart. Ah! A children’s book set in an Indian scenario. Awesome. Anushka Ravishankar does a great job of narrating the interesting incidents in Moin’s life as he deals with the ownership of a monster.
Remember all those Enid Blyton stories that you used to love? You’d grab a Famous Five or Five Find-Outers mystery, and retire to a corner, engrossed in the adventures of Julian and George, or Fatty and Bets, laughing or gasping alternatively as they went rootling into crumbling houses, discovered secret passages or were caught by the local policeman.
The book under review is a reprint, with a short editorial introduction, of Wickenden’s Report on the Disturbances of 1942-43. This secret document from the old files of the British Government has been published for the first time, since this ‘important’ document, according to the editor ‘remains unutilized by scholars and historians of Indian Freedom struggle’.
Do not be misled by the title. Being tone deaf, I approached the book with trepidation and was relieved that the ‘Lu Quartet’ is no music band. It comprises four school girls—Kakoli Chakrabarty (Kalu), Malabika Majumdar (Malu), Bulbuli Sen (Bulu) and the raconteur, Tultuli Basu (Tulu)—collectively known as Gadalu or with the more grand sobriquet—The Lu Quartet.
Ranjit Lal has a charming, humorous and wacky style of writing which immediately catches the reader’s attention. His articles, especially on birds and pets have endeared him to many, including this author, who enjoys all that is written by him. I was therefore keen to read this latest book for children and I must say I was not disappointed. It is an impossible story, of course, set as it is in a grand castle in today’s India, with all the trappings of a royal habitat. One of the protagonists is a real princess, Zafira, who makes friends with ordinary girls, including a boy, from ordinary, professional families.