I know, I have my personal experience to fall back on for this, but there is a major hurdle
on its way of being handy. I studied in an all-girls school all my school life and the public school Pari attends is noway close to what my school was. Reading these books, gifts me a better insight on child psychology in the words of talented writers making me see the many aspects of school life that went unnoticed (due to limited experience) when I was a school going kid myself.
In this journey, I chanced upon this book by Ruskin Bond. As part of reading many books by the same author, I picked this book. The blurb on the back read:
In School Times, Ruskin Bond brings together a bunch of heartwarming stories written by some of the best writers of the genre. These rivetting stories of school life are a heady mixture of love, friendship and loyalty, which will take the reader to the very extremes of imagnation, entertainment, thrill and excitement. So, here is your chance to savour every morsel of this sumptuous assortment.
My Review: Like all Ruskin Bond books this book too has a bright, colorful cover featuring a school student reading a book under the shade of a tree. Though the stories compiled in this book qualify as inspiring for children in middle and high school, I couldn’t feel they all connect (as mentioned in the blurb on the back of the book) to the book’s title. All the stories deliver important lessons but all stories aren’t scenes of school life. Only a handful are.
I picked this book thinking it to be a collection of heartwarming stories by some of the best authors who ranked high in Ruskin Bond’s reading list. It is quite an experience reading your favorite author’s favorites because I loved to learn what ticked for him.
The first and the last story of this wonderful collection are written by Ruskin Bond himself and they beautifully set pace to the book while providing the inherent joy his stories gift me.
The beauty of this short story collection is that some of the works date back to the nineteenth century. While I stumbled at following the old English at a few points, the joy of enriching my vocabulary and also visualizing the school life of almost two centuries ago was quite an experience.
While I liked many stories, I particularly loved, My Grandmother and the Dirty English by Aubrey Menen for it brought to fore the cultural diversities of the Indians and British while in an amazing manner taught the lesson of how all races share stark similarity in their beliefs and customs.
Another favorite is, A Pair of Steel Spectacles by Richard Church that introduces the reader to the world of fantasy in a way to make their imagination run wild while being intrigued to explore the mundane life in intricate detail.
Ullie’s Dream is a wonderful story about a child waiting for her father’s return from war. I particularly loved the way Ullie chooses hope over fear and how fearlessly she darts out in the end to see her dream come true.
Undershorts and Roses by Muzzafer Izgu is an evergreen tale that carries an important lesson for every adult part of school life and also parents. The ending note in the story bears a very powerful message that shall remain with me for a long time.
Another story that stirred the parent in me is, What Happened to a Father Who Became a Schoolboy by F.Anstey. I am sure every child has at some point harbored the wish to change places with their parents and this is what actually happens in this beautifully narrated story. But along the way, it was amazed by the child’s points of view, making me see my relationship with my child in a new light.
All the other stories make for an entertaining yet enlightening read however few come across as rather predictable having been adapted over time into movies, plays and even books in one form or the other. Though something similar can’t be said about The Four Feathers and Getting Granny’s Glasses the two stories from Ruskin Bond’s pen. They both come across as rather simple incidents of a scholar’s life but their heartwarming, poignant beauty made me smile as I read these.
However, I didn’t enjoy a few stories. They include, The Phantom Ship Steered by a Dead Man’s Hand by Matthew Henry Baker, Charge by Stephen Crane, Boy among the Writers by David Garnett. Their language was bit difficult to understand and the stories didn’t inspire me enough as did other tales part of this book.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading short stories and would love to have a scoop of variety of themes covered in the powerful words of writers across centuries. Most importantly, because the selection here is some of Ruskin Bond’s favorites, if you’re a Ruskin Bond fan, you’d love this book just as much I did.
About the Book :
Title – School Times
Author – Ruskin Bond
Publisher – Rupa Publications
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 201
Price – INR 195
ISBN – 978-81-291-4177-4
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