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Avinandan Mukherji

THE INCIDENT AT SAHEB BAGAN
By Paushali Ganguli
Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 131, Rs. 195.00

SILVER IS FOR SECRETS: A NOVEL
By Laurie Faria Stolarz
Jaico Books, Mumbai, 2013, pp. 277, Rs. 199.00

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 11 November 2013

This time the children’s books from The Book Review didn’t turn out to be the usual treat it has been the past few years, the reasons—The Incident at Saheb Bagan from Niyogi and Silver is for Secrets from Jaico. While the first book was downright disappointing with the sad handling of the mystery novel plot with a child hero, my issue with the second book is more ideological.   The Incident at Saheb Bagan reads like a book where an adult tries very hard to sound like a child. The suspense that the author tries to evoke doesn’t thrill, instead sounds contrived, while attempts to evoke laughter fall flat with alarming regularity. On the whole the book shows careless editing coupled with a half-hearted attempt to entertain young readers, and an indifferent cover, possibly put together in a hurry.   All my children’s books usually go to the library of a children’s hospital in Kozhikode—but I don’t think this one will. It is unfortunate that children’s books like these are selected for publication still. After coming across several laudable books from Niyogi, I am disappointed with this one—let’s hope they start taking their children’s books as seriously as they do their other ‘serious’ books.   Why do we need to import another romance mystery about magic spells and premonitions of death that some characters have about each other, all the way from the US? Admitted, Silver is for Secrets is narrated at a brisk pace, and the reader rarely has a chance to get bored, despite the crazy plotline, and a bunch of young boys and girls lusting after each other’s partners. Admitted, it is a well written book, and the author, Laurie Faria Stolarz, is in complete command of her characters, as well as the story that she sets out to narrate. But it is still difficult to understand why we need a book about black magic and voodoo, unshared secrets and revenge in an American setting.   Publishers like Jaico who at times buy rights for such books and sell them in India should try and focus on our authors back home instead. The sheer number of successful authors and illustrators for children and young adults that have established themselves on the scene especially in the past couple of decades in reason enough to continue promoting our existing authors ...


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