The Tribune - Spectrum

, September 15, 2002

Stories from the lap of nature
Jaswant Kaur

Tiger! Tiger!
by Pratibha Nath. Madhuban Educational Books.
Pages 144. Rs 50

Tiger! Tiger!READING these children’s stories reminds me of the childhood when we lived in a distant village of Punjab. And in the midst of green fields and mango groves was a small house wherein lived a dadi, always ready with her pitara of engrossing tales—tales of the sadhus, the fairies, the beautiful princesses and princes and tales of the animal world. Though very old, these stories— rooted in the past with relevance for tomorrow—were very close to human nature. Learning was, therefore, a wonderful experience.

Unfortunately, this tradition of story telling has come to an end. Education has become the sole prerogative of schools, which may have good buildings, exquisite furniture but little expertise to inculcate a sense of belonging to our culture and tradition. Pratibha Nath, a teacher-turned-journalist and storyteller, tries to strengthen this bond through her book Tiger! Tiger! The book is a collection of eight stories based on ‘real-life’ incidents of the author.


Pratibha, a Delhiite, likes to travel and most of the action in her stories takes place at places—like the Sunderbans, the coastal areas of Orissa, Bhimtal, etc.—which can be easily traced on map, enabling the reader to live in the world he comes across.

While nature plays havoc, her characters put up a heroic struggle for existence. Hope springs eternal in their hearts. At times they falter, but their tremendous courage, self-determination and honest approach pays them in the end.

That is why when a cyclone hits Orissa, Shankar, the young protagonist in the Not Afraid Any More, runs downhill to save his uncle who has fought with his father. And when the duo meet, all their hatred gets subsided, ending the story on a happy note.

In The Sandhu’s Secret, Anshu and Roshan go on an adventure trip near the Saraur river in the Shivaliks and discover an ancient ‘Shivling’ despite the difficult and unfamiliar terrain.

The stories show man’s unbound capacity to love, sacrifice and serve to make the world a better place to live in—even in the worst of the circumstances.

In The Girl and an Elephant, Bhanu, a poor village girl helps her father trap an elephant which meant a lot of money for them, something they needed badly. However, the story takes a different turn when Bhanu, unable to see the animal struggling for freedom, sets him free, wherein lay her real happiness.

Written in a simple and lively style, these stories entrench a value system and can help restore lost moral values in society, if understood in true spirit.

* * *

Just Imagine
by Santhini Govindan. Madhuban Educational Books.
Pages 104. Rs 45

Just Imagine is a collection of five stories and 12 poems for those who have just stepped into their schools and live in a world of their own.

A world where there is no work but all play, no sorrows but only joy, no wars but only peace. A word which is as vast as their imagination. It is the enchanting world of make-believe.

Santhini Govindan, an award-winning author of children’s fiction, presents a slice of this world through her creations. Currently working on her Senior Fellowship Project—Children’s Literature in English in India—the author has both the sensitivity and understanding of a child’s mind.

So here is a centipede who goes out shopping for a 100 pair of shoes but is disappointed to find none of his size, an octopus who wants to be a poet but is unable to think of anything, a child who is frustrated over the number of rules he has to follow a girl who wonders where her guardian angel lives, a woodpecker who wants a job, a mini ant who is unable to sleep because of her innumerable works, and more. Seems interesting. Isn’t?

A remarkable thing about the book is that it adds to the beauty of this magical world. After reading it, one strongly feels to visit it again or even explore it further. Go ahead then and let your imagination soar in this fascinating world of fantasy.