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Nostalgic encounters

Ruskin Bond has compiled some of the most memorable tales for this book, finds out Yojana Sharma.

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:10 IST

The Puffin Book of Classic School Stories


Price: Rs 250

Pages: 241

ISBN 0-14-333533-2

Ruskin Bond is arguably the sole name in children literature in India. He has written innumerable tales, some of which have become fables now.

This time Bond returns not as a writer but as an editor. He has compiled some of the most memorable tales for The Puffin Book of Classic School Stories. From the Adventures of Tom Sawyer to the Victorian classic Jane Eyre, Bond has selected 16 stories in all. This also includes one of his stories, The Playing Fields of Shimla. The story is a recollection of Bond's days in Bishop Cotton’s School there. He talks about his adventures at the playing fields in balmy afternoons.

Besides this, tales like Tom Sawyer and Jane Eyre are not new to anyone. Grand mommas pass on these tales to their grandkids.

Bond has skilfully chosen Indian writers along with the foreign greats. He has featured RK Narayan's A Helping Hand in this collection and has skilfully selected stories from some routine writers and literary giants. The book has contributions from Rudyard Kipling, namely, In Ambush, PG Woodhouse's The Final Housematch, Louisa M Alcott's A Firebrand along with Susan Coolidge's The SSUC and Thomas Hughes' The Fight.

All the stories share the same spirit - that of a young schoolboy whose world starts with his parents and ends at the school playing field, settling scores with his classmates and undertaking desperate measures to befriend seniors at school.

Puffin recommends this book for kids of 10+ years. Seems appropriate since this is the age when a child starts reading Charles Dickens and the like. The book, however, has too much emphasis on content. It lacks pictures, caricatures, graphics or illustrations. It would have been nice to see naughty Tom Sawyer’s cartoon or Bond’s photo of his school days. Too much of text kills a child’s interest.
What’s really remarkable is Ruskin Bond’s notes on the authors that he has featured. He has given a brief of authors at the end of the book. This information goes a long way in introducing literary giants to young minds.

The book is a great companion during the summer vacations. And of course it will take parents and teachers back to their school days.