Gita V Reddy’s collection of six short stories titled, The Unicycle and Other Stories is a middle grade book. With no expectation from it, I started reading it. GVR’s books The Vigil and Other Stories and Daksha the Medicine Girl have been reviewed on this site earlier.
The Clever Princess, as one can deduce from the title itself, is a typical Indian story where a king who is in a difficult situation is saved by his daughter’s ingenuity. King Jaganmohan has a problem – the kings of the three kingdoms surrounding his, offer unsuitable marriage proposals for his daughter. His daughter Chandralekha thwarts all the proposals by her smartness and solves the problem.
Seven-year old Devi, daughter of nomadic construction workers, is initiated into planting trees by an old man in a bungalow near one of their construction sites. How this small act becomes a habit for Devi and the fruits that this habit bear forms the story of the Green Earth,
The Unicycle is the story of little Amir whose teenage brothers Imran and Irfan do not include him in his play, and tease him constantly. In an effort to prove them wrong, he builds a cycle which strikes them with awe.
The Dream is the story of Sucharita, who has recently lost her mother and is in the care of the household help. Thanks to a lack of attention from a grieving dad and improper care from the caretaker, Sucharita becomes the butt of her classmates’ jokes. This gradually pushes her to become a loner, till one day something happens and brings her life back to normalcy.
When Mrs. Sunder Raj announces literacy programs for the tenth grade children’s project work in Social Studies, Sushant and Hemant reluctantly take it up. After failure with the uninterested Dharmu, they zero in on the eager Chinna and thus Project Chinna starts. Chinna works at Anna aka Chary’s furniture shop. Can they cross the obstacles that come up like timing and Anna’s skepticism? Do they succeed? What do they gain out of the project? Marks or more?
Mr. Ben’s treasures is about the treasures collected lovingly over years by Mr. Ben and what he does when he is forced to sell his house. With no place for his treasures, he has to part with them. The children of the locality come to his aid and with their parents’ help offer to guard some of his treasures till he finds a place for them. But as they catalogue the items, things take a different turn. For the better or for worse?
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- An eclectic mix of stories with some of them having strong messages. Project Chinna, for instance, reveals a non-conventional, but effective teacher and teaching methodology.
- The author has attempted to highlight some important social and ecological issues like the need to plant trees in The Green Earth.
- The Unicycle, is refreshing and throws light on the Penny Farthing
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- The pattern of some stories have a dated feeling, similar to those that appeared in the last century. For example The Clever Princess, whose storyline can be guessed from the title itself. Such stories along the lines of Tenali Rama with an “And they live happily ever after” ending are no longer interesting.
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- The Dream is a story which is clichéd. My first reaction to it was that it reinforces stereotypes of neglect from caretakers. But then, I was quick to realize that, however stereotypical it may be, it is the truth in most cases. I understand that loss of a parent is irreplaceable. But, are there different and more interesting solutions to this issue?
A copy of this book was given me by the author, Gita V Reddy, in return for an honest review. Thanks Gita Reddy.
|Title||The Unicycle And Other Stories
|Editor(s)/Author(s)/Illustrator(s)/Translator(s)||Gita V Reddy|
|Publisher||Self (Gita V Reddy)|