Our Nana Was a Nutcase

At this time every year, I am eagerly noting down book recommendations to shop enough books to (almost) last me the whole year. This was when, while browsing through the list of winners of the Raymond Crossword Book Award 2016, I spotted Our Nana Was a Nutcase by Ranjit Lal. It has bagged the Jury’s award for best Children’s Book.

One read of the blurb and I knew I had to read this book because a few years down the line, it would make a beautiful read for my daughter who is very fond of her Nana (maternal grandfather).

The blurb on the back of the book reads:

“Avantika Singh, better known as General Gosling, was born aboard a Boeing 747 somewhere over the Arabian Sea. Gosling and her siblings – Duckling and the twins Dingaling and Dumpling – have been brought up at Shadow House by their grandfather, the crazy, zany Nana and his lovely partner Shabby Aunty.
Nana, an ex-army surgeon, is completely whacko and life at Shadow House is exasperating, funny and unforgettable, what with Nana’s fixation for his ten Classic and Vintage cars, Duckling’s collections of virtually everything ‘collectible’ and the twins’ notorious business swindles. But then when it becomes clear that Nana is slowly falling prey to dementia and Alzheimer’s, his daughter makes diabolical plans for him–and for the children’s future. Plans that Gosling and the others are determined to thwart, without foreseeing how terribly things could go wrong for everyone. Will dear nutcase Nana survive all this and return to his beloved Shadow House and Shabby Aunty?
At once funny and heart-breaking, Our Nana Was a Nutcase is a delightfully touching story about growing up, growing old and loving your grandparent no matter how nutty he may seem.”

The book has a bright, sunshine yellow cover adorned with beautiful illustrations that make perfect sense only after you’ve read the book. I must admit that the beautiful cover helps fond moments from the book pop up like fireworks every time I glance at the cover of this book.


The title evidently hints that the book is brimming with a generous dose of fun and humor. However, the profound meaning of the title comes to fore around mid-way.

The book opens on a chirpy note introducing the readers to the wacky side of the family. I could feel a smile settle on my lips right from the start that did change in size as I read along but the fuzzy warmth never left my heart alone. The book has been written keeping readers of 12 years and onwards in mind. Being a parent, I encountered many important life-lessons that I’d love to revisit from time to time.

The book is a winner in entertaining, rich, lucid narration peppered with impressive metaphors and above all spinning a very inspiring yet relatable sequence of events. This book offers beautiful lessons in compassion at various levels that I’m sure young readers would tremendously benefit from while enjoying reading this book.

At 0600 Hrs: All four of us would rocket out of our beds as the Colonel Bogey March would suddenly blare, accompanied by the tramp of marching feet on the wooden floorboards. Nana would be marching up and down in the corridor outside our ‘cubicles’, in his military boots, playing his golden trumpet and souding like a drunken barati band. Occasionally he would mark time and start singing in the stentorian baritone of his: ‘Hitler! He only had one ball…! Goering! Had two, but very small…’

I wish to congratulate the author for a successful portrayal of the climax in a way that it was both a thriller but at the same time gifted important reminders for the adult readers. Each of the characters tell a tale of the love with which the author has created them and Nana is the loveliest of them all. I couldn’t help but adore Nana for his devotion towards his family, his loving, caring ways of teaching valuable lessons to the kids, his dedication towards his work and cars, his impeccable sense of humor, his passion for discipline and fun ways of teaching self-efficacy to his grandchildren.

This book is a winner of hearts and a highly recommended read for all children aged 12 and above. I believe it would make for an unputdownable read for the adults if they enjoy reading heart-warming stories that make them giggle, revel in nostalgia and yearn to be a similar parent or a grand-parent just like the protagonist of the book is.

The book is a breezy read that is sure to hit a sweet spot and lovingly make place for itself in reader’s favorites. This is the first book I’ve read from Ranjit Lal’s mighty pen and am determined to read many more in the days to come.

About the Book: 

Title – Our Nana Was a Nutcase

Author – Ranjit Lal

Publisher – Red Turtle by Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd.

Genre – Fiction/ Children’s Book

Pages – 234

Price – INR 295

ISBN – 978-81-291-3578-0

About the Author: 

Ranjit Lal has written over thirty books for both adults and children. Some of his books include Tigers of Taboo Valley, The Crow Chronicles, The Life and Times of Altu-Faltu, Bossman and the Kala Shaitan, Birds from my Window. He has been a winner of the Crossword Best Children’s Book Award for his novel, Faces in the Water in year 2015.

Rating: 4.5/5

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18 thoughts on “Our Nana Was a Nutcase

  1. I’m getting this one for sure. I love Ranjit Lal even though I’ve not read many of his books. He writes a column in the Sunday Express Eye on wildlife and I’m a complete fan of his brand of humour. I love the way he tells stories. So thank you for this review.


    1. Thank you OM for letting me know where can I get a regular dose of Ranjit Lal’s humor and keen eye of observation. Go for the book, am sure you and the twins are going to love it 🙂
      Happy Reading!


  2. Hi Era,

    Thank you for nudging me to your lovely site. I liked it and the ideas that guide you.
    I have not heard about this book, many thanks for revealing how interesting and humane it must be!
    While I never got the opportunity to see and learn from my Nana and Nani who died before I was born, we have been trying to be loving grandparents to our grandchildren so that the precious memories that we could not gather become a natural part of their life.
    I am glad you review books. Do you have any pre-conditions for writing a review?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RamyaRao

    The title and the brilliant review makes me want to read this book now. Recently I have been reading many childer’s books. Will grab this one too. 😉


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