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Sowmya Rajendran

By Samit Basu . Illustrated by Sunaina Coelho
Red Turtle, Rupa, Delhi, 2014, pp. 116, Rs. 195.00


The Adventures of Stoob is a breezy read that you probably will finish reading in one sitting. The book takes you through the life and times of a fifth grader, the unfortunately named Subroto Bandhopadhyay. And since that is quite a mouthful, let’s just call him Stoob as everyone else does.  Stoob is an average kid, which gives him the moral right to pass colourful comments on all those who are above average and below average. His problems are the usual—a crow who wants to make his head its personal toilet, a principal who is unreasonably unreasonable, annoying classmates, parents who jump to the worst possible conclusions and so on. In this world of the ordinary and the absurd, there comes a day when Stoob has to use all his resources to save his best friend from descending into darkness—he has to prevent him from becoming a criminal! Brrr.  While the book is certainly entertaining, parts of it give one a sense of déjà vu. It’s an Indian Wimpy Kid, you feel, and then try and shake off that feeling because you are so tired of Indian Enid Blytons and Indian JK Rowlings. It doesn’t help that the cover is also quite similar to the ones that the Wimpy Kid books have. Why must every half-entertaining book remind you of a western one that’s already been written a while ago? To be fair, Stoob isn’t as nearly a smartypants as Jeff Kinney’s hero, but the resemblance is striking enough to make you wonder if they were brothers in a previous birth. The resolution of the central crisis in the book sort of drags and is quite predictable. But Samit Basu’s style is light, funny and engaging, so this is easy to forgive.  Sunaina Coelho’s illustrations are delightful, my favourites being the ones on p. 41 and p. 88. She plays up the drama in the text admirably and creates much humour with her deft strokes. The illustrations are not always a direct or obvious interpretation of what’s in the text and this makes you pause and look at the artwork closely before turning the page.  It looks as if The Adventures of Stoob is Book 1 in a series that Red Turtle is planning to bring out. It would be interesting to see how Stoob grows up. I, for one, look ...

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