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Ranjana Kaul

By Deepak Dalal
Westland, Chennai, 2013, pp. 170 & 133, Rs. 195.00


Deepak Dalal’s Vikram Aditya series, of which The Snow Leopard forms a part, are a truly delightful addition to literature for children written in India. C.S Lewis once remarked that a ‘a children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.’ Dalal’s books are written for 12 to 16 year olds but like all really good literature written for the young appeal quite as much to the adult reader. These are not books about imaginary worlds and fantastical happennings but engrossing stories about the world around us or rather those aspects of our beautiful world which we, as dwellers of cities, often tend to forget. The books ,which include other titles such as Ranthambore Adventure, Andaman Adventure and Ladakh Adventure ,which is the precursor of The Snow Leopard Adventure, follow the escapades of two school-mates Vikram and Aditya who share a love of nature and the great outdoors. Dalal says ‘Today’s children live very urban centric lives. What I am trying to do is tell them about the exciting country beyond: the Himalayas, the coastlines, the wild forests.’     He feels that there are very few ‘ Indian stories’ in children’s literature available in India today and sets out to fill this lacuna by writing about some of the most beautiful and rarely visited parts of this country.     Ladakh Adventure begins with Aditya and Vikram in the remote Changthang plateau which stretches from Tibet to Ladakh. An incredibly beautiful vast open space dotted with huge lakes which are the nesting grounds of numerous migratory birds especially the rare and endangered blacknecked crane. Vikram, the bird watching enthusiast, is up at an unearthly hour trying to catch a glimpse of a family of cranes and there is a thrilling description of the young hatchling’s first flight and providential escape from a ferocious Changpa dog. The wealth of detail and close observation bring the entire incident to life but these idyllic moments are rudely shattered by the abduction of Vikram and Aditya’s young companion Tsering, lunging them and the reader into a series of unexpected adventures.     Tsering is a young lama who is being pursued by the unscrupulous poacher and general bad guy Akira for reasons as yet unknown to the two boys. However since he has been entrusted to their care they enthusiastically embark on a quest ...

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