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Book Review – ‘Ranji’s wonderful bat and other stories’ by Ruskin Bond


Ruskin BondCome summer, here come summer vacations and come summer vacations and it is summer camp frenzy time. Yes, given the ever busy work schedules of parents, ever diminishing safe, open spaces for unstructured play, keeping the kids engaged during holidays is hard work indeed (despite ever mushrooming summer camps of all kinds and genres)! Of course, summer is a great time for children to discover their interests, pursue hobbies, develop life skills and take up activities that they may not find time for during their regular schedule. But it is also important to strike the right balance between structured activities and unstructured play, as after all, summer vacation is a well deserved break from what has over the years become an increasingly rigorous school routine. Also remember, whether you decide to take a couple of hours time off during the day, or get off work earlier than usual, or take a vacation from work yourself, summer is the best time to explore your surroundings, hit the pool, go cycling and enjoy this time with your kids. Who said summer holidays are just for kids??

Going with the outdoors theme for this season, we picked out Ruskin Bond’s recent offering on a subject that he is not known to have written many stories – Cricket! Besides making an entertaining and engaging read, “Ranji’s wonderful bat and other stories” brings out the pleasures and pains of both watching and playing the gentlemen’s game. This wonderful compilation includes some of Bond’s early stories featuring twelve year old Ranji and his love for cricket. I’m sure Ranji’s emphatic “I want to be a test cricketer when I grow up, of what use will Maths be to me?” does echo the sentiments of our wannabe cricketers at home …doesn’t it??

While this book, brought out by Puffin, the children’s publication wing of Penguin publications, has cricket as it’s centrepiece, it’s not all about cricket either, and other stories revolve around sporting activities in general, sportsmanship spirit and many a nature adventure. This curated collection also contains excerpts from Bond’s novel “The Hidden Pool” that showcase unconventional sporting feats like the big bug race or the adventurous treks to the Pindari glacier.

Ruskin Bond’s writings are known for his keen “observation, recollection and reflection” on simple things in life that escape most writers and that’s where the universal appeal for his stories lie. The charm of any sport does not only lie in the day’s game or the match, but in the passion, dedication and the joy of losing oneself in it and trust India’s favourite story-teller to vividly bring out the same in his sports stories. Read on as he reflects on why cricket is every living being’s game in India, including a crocodile in “Cricket for the crocodile”, or that cricket unexpectedly acts as a gender-bender in “Koki plays the game”, or Uncle Ken’s muddled experiences with tennis and cricket alike, or a young boy’s cycling turning into an unforgettable run-in with nature’s fury in ‘Riding through the Flames”, how two boys fight over an exclusive swim in a pristine forest pool in “The Fight” and many such page-turners. Replete with subtle wit and humour, coming-of-age tales of friendship and team spirit on and off the field, lively limerick-style poems on cricket, bring on your sporting outfit with the Bond from Mussoorie! Enjoy the summer everyone!

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Divya Purandar is a practising advocate, wife to an IT professional and mom to an eight year old brat. She began blogging at http://divya-onestoryaday.blogspot.in/ .while living in the US as she was fascinated by the world of children’s books. The blog gave her a platform to share her reading adventures while offering a brief review of the book in question. She has also reviewed children’s books for other parenting blogs and forums. What started out as a penning down of reading experiences with her little one has turned into a journey of self discovery and a sounding board for Divya’s parental musings.


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