Books For Beginners
Subhadra Sen Gupta
TIMELESS TALES FROM BENGAL: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BANGLA CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT STORIES by Dipankar Roy Thornbird: An imprint of Niyogi Books, 2018, 480 pp., 795
November 2018, volume 42, No 11

In Bangla literature there is a wonderful tradition—writers are never put into slots. No one is stamped as a ‘children’s writer’, ‘writer of humour’ or even a poet. You go wherever your imagination takes you. As a matter of fact, writers take pride in spanning many genres and that has brought the greatest gifts to children. Famous writers from Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore to Mahasweta Devi and Sunil Gangopadhyay have written for children and produced a century of unparalleled children’s literature.

Stories, novels, poetry and comics appeared in the pages of children’s magazines like Sandesh, Shuktara and Anandmela and fiction came in every genre from mystery and adventure to fantasy and science fiction. Take the prolific Sharadindu Bandopadhaya, creator of the detective Byomkesh Bakshi and many richly textured historical novels; who also wrote wildly inventive short stories for children and later we had Satyajit Ray who gave us the brainy Feluda and the scientist Professor Shonku. For Bengali children these writers spoke of a world they could relate to and experiences they understood, unlike western writers like Enid Blyton. You read Blyton but it was the Pagla Dashu stories of Sukumar Ray that you remembered.

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