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Misha Bansal

By M. Krishnan
Year 2016, pp. 64, Rs. 450.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

The moment one thinks of an alphabet book, boring boxes with letters printed in one corner and a garish image of fruit or an animal in the rest, come to the mind. So when gems like The Book of Beasts show up on bookshelves, it is time to rejoice and grab your copy. Children need to be connected with Nature and it is books like these that accomplish the task. Even if you’re old for children’s books, you will surely enjoy it because it is so insightful. The book starts off with the foreword from the author’s granddaughter, who had been given these animal verses as a birthday present by her grandfather. It is laudable that she decided to share this with the rest of the world because the book is beautifully made. Never before have I seen science and literature come together so beautifully. The poems talk about endangered animals, their habitat, their behaviour and much more. The facts, along with the scientific names are engaging but never overbearing. Krishnan’s cunning remarks about the Binturong and how the illustration shows a bottle of preservative kept next to the animal portrays that we can only see it in museums or that the best way to keep it alive is by using a permanent preservative. In this way, the book instils a sense of urgency as it is mentioning the plight of so many beasts, telling us how they are hunted or stuffed to be put on display; urging us to do something to save them. The author also touches a lot of intriguing facts like why a vulture’s neck is so long and subtly hints that the sloth bear hibernates because ‘his limbs are heavy with sleep’. He is also mentions the fallacies in the names of some animals like the Assam Rabbit and the Musk Rat. It is astonishing how well he has understood the animals and has struck the right chord for each one he mentions. The best part about this book is that you can experience some of the things mentioned about the animals. If you ever look under a Peepal tree, you will actually see the plethora of figs spat out by bats that the author talks about. This and many other easily observable things like the Ibis flying by or the sound of a Nightjar at dawn will instantly strike ...

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