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UNTOLD SCHOOL STORIES: THREE FOURTHS, HALF PRICE, BAJJI BAJJI by Mohammad Khadeer Babu. Illustrated by Suresh BV; TEXTBOOKS by Nuaiman. Illustrated by Chithra KS; FRIENDS IN SCHOOL by Joopaka Subhadra. Illustrated by Saumya Ananthakrishna Eklavya, Bhopal, 2021, 56 pp., 200.00
November 2021, volume 45, No 11

The three stories in this book effectively present the lives of children from marginal and underprivileged families that struggle to provide for their school-going children. The stories reflect everyday problems like lack of money to buy text-books, keeping up with classmates who can well afford every luxury, efforts to walk all the way to reach schools located in neighbouring villages, and the discrimination faced on religion and caste grounds.
The first story relates the story of a child trying to find a good bargain while buying second-hand textbooks for class 8. Since new books are beyond the pockets of the boy whose father is a laborer, he has to make the most of the used books available at reduced prices. There are three categories from which he must choose—the well-maintained ones sold by a class 9 boy at three-fourths the original price; the worn-out books with over-writing on the pages being sold at half price, and the third, no longer worth-buying category of books that only deserve to be thrown away. To buy the best-maintained text-books at the lowest price is the aim of the boy. He finally manages to succeed in this aim. Buying notebooks is another hurdle for the thrifty boy. Very cleverly he succeeds in getting the notebooks at zero cost!
The sketches by Suresh BV add charm to the story.

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