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Vishesh Unni Raghunathan

By Annie Besant . Illustrations by Vishnu M. Nair
HarperCollins, Delhi, 2015, pp. 103, Rs. 199.00

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

By Mitali Perkins .  Cover: Tanvi Bhat
Duckbill Books, Chennai, 2015, pp. 140, Rs. 158.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 11 November 2015

Pterodactyl’s Egg by Annie Besant is a book about a Pterodactyl egg which Sam discovers on the playground and takes home. Little does he expect it to hatch, and what follows is not for the faint hearted! Sam with his glass bottle bottom like spectacles is an adorable child. Along with Priya, his sister, he somehow manages to convince his mother to let him keep the ‘creature’ for a few days while his father is away on work. The dinosaur grows at an incredible pace and is soon flying. Meanwhile the evil scientist, Dr. Poongothai aka Dr. Pox is fuming in her lair which she has priced away from a tribe— she wants the egg back no matter what. She sends BENO, an agent to recover the creature from Sam and his family. The tinge of sarcasm and humour to the whole story makes what seems like a straightforward stereotypical plot line interesting. One can easily guess what’s going to happen next, and that’s exactly what happens. But still, there is something charming about resurrecting the dinosaur. Sam and Priya are your everyday adorable children. Sam in particular is endearing. He tries to toilet train Biscuit (the Pterodactyl) and teach it to do dog tricks. Dr. Pox is built up as this evil scientist and till the end lives up to the billing. She has people killed for not obeying her orders, she terrorizes everyone who comes before and Bio-Engineers soldiers. BENO, who is sent to recover the egg is one of those soldiers, but manages to find a little bit of humanity which was left in her. The writing style might not be easy to get for everyone. There are plenty of snarky remarks and asides, and the overall tone of the narration is with an edge. Dr. Pox’s story is the usual genius child forced to behave normal. What’s of concern is the author’s treatment of young Dr. Pox’s counselling sessions. While as an adult or even a teenager it is easy to spot the humour, it may not be the same for children. This especially can have disastrous consequences in a society which already looks down upon psychological issues. It could be argued that anyone who does get the tone and language of the book, will get the humour, but it isn’t too convincing. This is a pity, since ...

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