The Puffin Book of Classic School Stories
Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Puffin Books
Price: Rs 245
What did Tom Brown, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Swami and Katy do in school? Well, if you want to relive the school days in some of the best-loved classics of English literature, then Ruskin Bond has catered for a fare of classic school stories to feast on.
The Puffin Book of Classic School Stories edited by Ruskin Bond has extracts from 16 all-time favourite novels about school lives of famous characters. They are the famous children of the literary world.
Read about David Copperfield and his immortal friendships with James Steerforth, Tom Brown facing ragging at Rugby School, Jane Eyre losing her best friend Helen to death and also about our very own Swami and Rusty.
Along with the 19th century classics, Bond also anthologises from the contemporary classics like ER Braithwaite’s To Sir With Love and from the works of authors like Angela Brazil, PG Wodehouse and Rudyard Kipling.
The stories deal with various facets of life — making new friends, life in boarding school, new teachers, rowdy peers, sorrow of parting and infectious joy of youth.
The tales tide over time and social milieus and trace the changing relations between the teacher and taught. Dickens's impudent Steerforth in Mr Mell's class is almost a hero. In comparision, Braithwaite talks tough to win not only a friendly round of boxing but also respect of his pupils.
Swami's irregularity, his white lies about his teacher's violent caning and then being caught on the wrong foot are stuffs our lives are made of. When the teacher is no better than 'poor worm' and students stick chewing gum on the class teacher’s chair truancy leading to reprimand and rustication translates to freedom as experienced by Rusty and friend, Daljit.
Different from the boys (and yet similar) are the girls' experiences of school life. Jane Eyre's immortal friendship with Helen at the face of poverty disease and death would help us cope with loss in our lives.
Life at Chalet School and Mavis and Merle's term-end exam, all these present a spectrum of heartwarming tales of girls at the threshold of life. Ruskin Bond anthologises for the children as well as the children-at-heart as we all live with the child in each of us.
Probably he could have also devoted a few leaves for Rabindra Nath Tagore’s childhood from his memoir My Boyhood Days, which crackles with joie de vivre as did his Neelmani Master whip!