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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review : ‘Uncles, Aunts & Elephants' by Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond’s ‘Uncles, Aunts & Elephants’ is a wonderful collection of short stories. With a delightful cover illustration by Archana Sreenivasan and cover design by Aparajita Ninan, this book takes us up to the cooler hills of India. There are three parts to the book; fiction, non-fiction and poetry. You can read the book right here.

The first chapter is set in London and it talks of Ruskin’s adventures with his new flat (or attic) and only a mouse as his constant visitor. Bond delights us with mousy stories, in ‘A Little Friend’. Bond gets up to all sorts of adventures with his father and his grandfather. His animal lover grandpa with a thing for monkeys, owls, cats and dogs and his grandmother who sounds like a superb cook sounds like you want to taste every one of her dishes.

Of course, his uncle, aunt, and scoutmaster are not too far off either in the silly and goofy adventures that Rusty gets up to. You are never away from the mysteries and dangerous birds like ostriches and the majestic eagle in these escapades that he cooks up. 'Escape from Java’, ‘Grandfather’s Many Faces’, ‘Uncle Ken’s Feathered Foes’, ‘Who Monkey Trouble’ and ‘The Parrot Who Wouldn’t Talk’ could leave you in splits.

In the non-fiction section, you cannot miss the peacocks, crows, sparrows, pigeons, parrots and even mynas. But one should not miss the habits of birds such as hoopoes, tree pies, tailorbirds. I had never heard of them, but they sound fascinating and leave you with a smile.

‘Bhabhiji’s House’ is about a wonderful family, who get up to the funniest acts and their antics are one for the road. Also, do not miss a love story for the tigers, gardens of ghosts and ways to deal with the evil eye. Of pleasant windows to look at beautiful sights, of wonderful, flowing handwriting, of delightful books, of weird neighbours and of hill fairies that are all a part of this section.

‘Garden of Memories’, ‘Reading Was My Religion’ ‘Respect Your Breakfast’ and ‘The Elephant and the Cassowary Bird’ make for the non-fiction section, which is not as non-pleasant as it sounds.

The poems, ‘In a Strange Soup’ ‘Granny’s Tree-Climbing’ and ‘As a Boy’ are personal favourites. They are all funny and anecdotal in their telling.

Overall, it is what Ruskin Bond’s book usually is. Pleasant, funny, and full of tales. I would not say this is a children’s book because it always would put a smile on anyone’s face. And the more adult we are, the bigger our smile can be. The baby elephant’s illustration is only a start to the hullaballoo of stories. 

Author: Ruskin Bond
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 978-0-143-33262-6
Price: Rs 299/-

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