Ranjit Lal’s latest book on offer is How Weird is that? from TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) Press. Being a naturalist and a writer, he is best equipped to bring out a work on some weird aspects of certain animals. It is a book on animal facts wrapped up in fictional tales.
Most of the weird stories are the experiences of Sachin and his good friend Shaila. When they go to the Sariska National Park, they get to see a rare species of animal, the caracal. When they go to the zoo with the other Nature Club members, they get an opportunity to prove their friendship. Each of them saves the other one from a poison dart frog.
One of them is vegetarian and the other is non-vegetarian. When they argue that their respective choices are the wiser ones, they eventually get into the other person’s skin to experience it. Easier narrated than done in reality!
Once, they chance upon a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a pupa and follow it through with its transformation into a butterfly.
When Sachin feels wobby at the knees to go parasailing at Naukuchiyatal, who should inspire him? Mamma Spider makes her spiderlings parasail into the big wide world, lest she should eat them.
Are humans the smartest of all animals? No, opine Sachin and Shaila. What are their arguments in favour of their opinion in the class debate?
Shoma and Shona, 11-year old twins, whose mother died (a familiar refrain in Ranjit Lal’s stories) and whose father didn’t provide them with enough care , have an opportunity to watch the seahorse male give birth and that affects their Papa too.
When Shri Bombay Duckwalla is angry that a predator is preying on the crabs and lobsters in his big fish tank, his daughter Anjali comes to the rescue. Her observant eye and perseverance find the predator, but what she does with him is surprising.
When the Ogress Ant colony and the Gross Ant colony are ready for a war, how does the Commander-in-Chief of the Ogress Ant colony thwart the oncoming war? Read about the kamikaze ants and their Secret K Weapon.
What should the pregnant Mama spider eat to get the required protein for the well-being of her babies and who sacrifices for the cause?
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- The concept of embedding each fact into a tale makes it interesting as well as unforgettable.
- I liked both the spider facts and the tales around them. The kamikaze ant is a suspenseful tale.
- In spite of being printed on recycled paper, making in a complete “green” book, I found the quality and texture of the pages good.
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- Isn’t the caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis a much-written-about fact? It could have been replaced.
- I would have preferred some connection between the tales too. Considering that Sachin and Shaila tales were the most, it could have been various episodes in their lives. Some more continuity would have given a feel of a desi-version of a Gerald Durrell experience.
- I wonder why another instance of a pair of twins who lost their mother makes an appearance in this book too?
Weird is interesting!
My thanks to the publishers, TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) Press and the author for sending me a copy in return for an honest review