Having grown up on a steady diet of Enid Blytons, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, I never thought of picking up a novel by an Indian author. I don’t have anything against Indian authors, I have read R. K. Narayan and Ruskin Bond when my dad insisted, but the thought of passing up Enid Blyton to buy another book by a domestic author did not appeal to me. That I was wrong in doing so was apparent after I read this book written by Asha Nehemiah.
I had picked up Nehemiah’s book on a whim from the library without reading any reviews of the books written by her. The first book was ‘The Mystery of the Secret Hair-oil Formula’ which was a fun read but did not impress me much, though I would still say it is a good book for eight year olds. Titles of her books are named like those of Enid Blyton, but the similarity ends there. The story inside has a Desi touch and ‘The Mystery of the Silk Umbrella’ grabbed my attention and was quite gripping till the end. I would definitely be on the look out for future books by her.
Two children take the help of a friend in finding a lost antique umbrella which was being used by their film director mother as a prop in her film.
The story sets a good pace and has a few twists and turns which make it an interesting read. All the characters in the book are people whom we meet in our day to day lives and can relate with. The children in this book are portrayed as intelligent, brave and sensitive and they solve the problem in a logical manner. The three characters, two girls and a boy are quite believable.
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- Tamil words are thrown in occasionally and casually.
- The mention of food in the book makes me believe that the author is also a fan of Enid Blyton. There is a lot of food. However, I am baffled as to why the pancake is written as ‘Pan O’ cake’.
- That the author has a funky and quirky taste in food is also very evident from the recipes of food items that are mentioned. The ‘traffic light dosai’ does evoke a smile. If you want to try the recipes do so at your own risk!
- The author has a good understanding of children and has lucid way of storytelling.
- The camaraderie among the children is brought out very nicely.
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- I cannot compare this book with Enid Blyton, but I liked the book, it is a fun read and makes you smile time and again. I would recommend that children should try reading it.
- Adults who love children’s literature should also give it a try. Now why would an adult read this book? I read the book mainly because I don’t want my daughters to shun our own home grown writers. If I do not start reading Indian authors they might just limit their reading to the said Enid Blytons and Harry Potters.
- Reading a book sprinkled with a Desi touch and a little humor does perk up your day.
Must-read for children in the group of 8-12. Of course, interested adults who care for child-like humour can too.