Today, in an all new session of THE READING ROOM, we are going to review School Times edited by Ruskin Bond
Who would you like to meet – the adventurous four feathers from the prep-school in Shimla or the Eurasian schoolboy and his funny grandmother who detests the dirty manners of the English? There is another option: would you like to catch up with the father who became a schoolboy and attended school again or the small girl who lived on hope that her father would return home from war one day? How about meeting a mischievous boy who always follows his master’s footsteps but never gets the expected results or the destitute lad who gets admitted to a school full of affluent students? All these and many more engaging stories are awaiting you inside this book.
A collection of 20 stories from all over the world, sharing space for the first time to showcase their genres, School times has it all under one roof! Ruskin Bond has done his best in creating this great anthology… The best of its genre!!
The Four Feathers by Ruskin Bond has given this book a perfect start. This story unfolds around a group of four school boys including the author, which they called The Four Feathers. Readers are going to love the story to know what they had done after finding a crying baby in the garden.
Next on the list is Frank Fairleigh See’s the Macintosh Wonder, and Rides Mad Bess by Francis Edward Smedley. This story is a bit lengthy, compared to the other stories, but the author has very efficiently stated a very wonderful message at the end. Children are going to love this story.
Fest of the Guinea-pigs and Tadpoles at St. Dominic’s by Talbot Baines Reed is a story of the great rivalry between the Guinea-pigs and the Tadpoles. A cricket feast was organized where speeches were given and songs are performed. How the author injected the witty humor by his narrating style is the main thing to watch out for.
The Last Lesson by Alphonse Daudet had a delightful message lying inside the story. Little Franz realizes how important his earlier classes was only when their French teacher M. Hamel asked to move out of the school, after his forty years of faithful services, because only German can be taught in the school. The end will tear the readers into tears.
Schooldays: Raising the Wind by Gilbert Harding is a story whose name itself says everything about the book. How a boy managed to settle down in a boarding school named Wolverhampton’s Royal Orphanage and how the headmaster taught them by scolding what to do and what not to do, is the story all about.
My grandmother and the dirty English by AuberyMenon is the story of the narrator and his grandmother. It’s about Calicut and London. It’s about traditions, beliefs. The way the story starts paces and ends makes it a wonderful one. Yes, it is a story of its own genre.
The feeling of being a new student in a new school of a new lace, residing inside a hostel. Yes, Prep-school by Lord Berners, an excerpt of ‘first childhood’ represents just that. Written in a flawless way, I would love to mention that it is one of the best of the book.
A pair of steel spectacles by Richard Church is a very interesting and wonderful story. It’s about a child’s first spectacles. The feelings of seeing the world through new eyes have been described very well. Surely remind me of the first time I had such a feeling.
Ever believed that a dead man’s hand can steer a ship? The Phantom ship steered by a dead man’s hand by Matthew Henry Berker is one such story which can turn fiction into reality and reality to fiction. Awesome description style makes this a must read story.
What happened to a father who became a school boy by F. Austey. What to say about the story! Its everyone’s dream to see what happens when their parents become students. A fun read, this story is an insight to the same.
Who hasn’t heard about Nino Diablo? The boy who is a person, a human, he helps everyone, is everywhere. Appearing all of a sudden and disappearing more mysteriously. The mystery of the boy remains so, as few believe him, some don’t. To know about the guy, one must read W.H Hudson’s Nino Diablo.
The feeling of being poor. The story written by MuzafferIzger titled ‘Undershorts and Roses’ gives us an insight on what it feels on being poor amidst the bunch of rich students, through the eyes of a schoolboy. The feeling of being mocked at is very vividly explained in the story.
TilEvlenspiegel’sMerry pranks from an anonymous writer is next on the list. The fact that the writer is unknown gives it a very interesting feel from the beginning. The tale of a very naughty lad is all it takes for children to love it. A humorous tale.
Heisel Anne Allison has put up a wonderful story of Ullie’s Dream. The story is based during Hitler’s Reign, towards the end of the World War 2. The story is about a small 10year old, Ullie waiting for her father to return home from the Russian Front, safe. A heart touching tale of pure emotions.
Dream of Elephants by Thomas Palakel is a late of a Christian boy who wanted to be a Mahout is opposed by the family. The story is interesting but at a point, the story seems to be a flaw of the book.
We had heard about deadly ghost stories. Especially those which the villagers make to scare the other villagers. Charles Mungoshi, in the story ‘The Mountain’ puts together one such age old belief. The story of the mountain is a very scary one with a wonderful narrative style. A must read.
Among so many beautifully written stories, DibakarBarua’sSnailsdoesn’t seem up to the mark. Since it is about school times, the story seems too up standard. Though a powerful one, it adds to the flaw of the book.
The one pro of Stephen Crane’s Charge! Is the well written conversations of the story. A powerful, enriching tale of courage. Loved the narrating style though I felt that a bit less exaggerating would’ve done the trick.
Boy among the Writer by David Garnetti; yes! That’s exactly what the story is about. Wonderfully described, well written. One story all the children will fancy about. The only problem with the story was that it was a bit lengthy, leaving it stretched at parts. Apart from that, wonderful story.
Talbot Bainees Reed, in his story The old Jug Dodge has an unexpected victim has written that can happen with anybody, anytime. I better not reveal what’s in it. Yes, the narrating style makes it all the more interesting.
It ends with Getting Granny’s Glasses by Ruskin Bond himself. Though a normal story, I don’t know what it means for others, but for me; it is a new outlook to the world.
A wonderful book full of emotions, can turn one’s life topsy-turvy if read at a length. Apart from the few lengthy and unnecessary stories, a must read.
My rating: 4/5
Title: School Times
Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Rupa & Co
Buy this book online:
So here we come to an end to today’s session of Reading Room
Reviewed By: Purnendu Chatterjee (Team WordBite)