Fascinating tales for children
Laxmi Kant Verma

Chicken Mama and Other Stories
by Margaret Bhatty. Puffin Books. Pages 125. Rs 175.

Chicken Mama and Other StoriesaS children, we took great interest in listening to stories told by our grandparents. However, as we grew up, the craze for stories was taken over by storybooks, which were easily available at bookshops and the school library.

Today, children have TV cartoons, magazines, Internet, etc., for recreation, but storybooks have their own different world, which will never lose its power to charm, for there is hardly anyone who doesn’t like to read and listen to stories. Chicken Mama is a collection that will attract you towards this world.

In the first story, you will meet Chicken Mama, the spiky-haired medicine woman who knows the art of moving time backwards, and Mokel-embe-embe, the world’s last dinosaur, about to be captured by British explorers.

In Spooky and the Professor, Spooky95768939123, the ghost in danger of becoming extinct, tries to make the Professor believe in his existence. In the next story, you will come to know about the laughable activities of Sammy the penguin that later becomes the mascot of a tiny Antarctic settlement, the Ross Base.

The story Degree Master introduces you to Manto the barber who is equally expert at calligraphy and chumpy. He has many framed degrees and certificates adorning the walls of his house. He also gives tuition to the 10-year-old Jhandu, an ambitious boy, who wants to become a ‘Degree Master’ like Manto.

"Whoosh! Hiss! Ph-oom!" How the Genie asks the old Das Babu to make three wishes in The Genie of the Yantra. These wishes will make the Genie free himself from the yantra in which he was imprisoned by a holy man. In Freedom, salute the 60-year-old freedom fighter Shankarao who is put behind the bars on false charges. His act of throwing chappal at the sub-inspector is quite amusing.

Nobody can make fool of the very clever Chachaji. Will Asha and Dhiren ever be able to make fool of him? Read the story You can’t Fool Chachaji! to get new ideas for making a complete fool of your friends. The story of Sarkoo and the gentleman thief who cheats people but helps the needy is quite interesting. Sarkoo wants to go to the Gulf for earning money but is cheated by a boat sailor.

The book takes you on a fascinating story tour and introduces you to real characters you will never forget and the imaginary ones you will be eager to meet. Each story contains an illustration, which is very helpful in understanding its characters. Overall, this is a good storybook.