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Jaya Bhattacharji Rose

MISS TIMMINS' SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
By Nayana Currimbhoy
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 496, 399.00

CHINKU AND THE WOLFBOY
By Anjana Basu
IndiaInk, an imprint of Roli, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 212, 250.00

MAYIL WILL NOT BE QUIET!
By Niveditha Subramaniam and Sowmya Rajendran
Tulika Publishers, Chennai, 2011, pp. 104, 150.00

THE GIRLS BEHIND THE GUNFIRE
By Trisha Ray
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 308, 299.00

THE WHISTLING MONSTER: STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
By Jamila Gavin illustrated by Suzanne Barrett
Walker Books, London, 2009, pp. 96, 150.00

RUSSIAN FOLKTALES
By Retold Aradhana Bisht illustrated by Ludmilla Chakravarty
Scholastic India, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 140, 150.00

TALES FROM INDIA: STORIES OF CREATION AND THE COSMOS
By Jamila Gavin illustrated by Amanda Hall
Templar Publishing, U.K, 2011, pp. 96, Pound 14.99

SCHOOL FOR PRINCES: STORIES FROM THE PANCHATANTRA
By Jamila Gavin illustrated by Bee Willey
Frances Lincoln Children's Books, U.K, 2011, pp. 64, 650.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 11 NOVEMBER 2011

Recently, British author and illustrator Marcus Sedgwick said in a Guardian interview that there is 'almost nothing that you cannot tackle in a teenage novel.'1And he should know, having experimented with a range of subjects from the fantastic to revenge and death in Revolver. Of the books being reviewed, The Girls behind the Gunfire; Miss Timmins' School for Girls and Mayil will not be Quiet! would ascribe to this principle. Some of the subjects covered are violence, aggression, young girls who are being trained to be assassins; coming-of-age story in a boarding school where a murder occurs; puberty, communalism, tackling tricky questions about sexual orientations, including homosexuality to the recognition of more 'grown-up' issues like domestic violence and learning how to identify and support such victims. Fiction gives the leeway to discuss and how to tackle such tricky ideas, without exhausting the young readers with preachy tales. Trisha Ray, Niveditha Subramaniam and Sowmya Rajendran are young and have a very attractive and imaginative style of tackling their fiction. Trisha's style of writing prose is punchy, clear and gripping. The manner of telling a story is extremely strong and fast paced. She has a way of getting into the personality of the characters, by also creating distinctive and memorable voices. Apparently, nineteen-year-old Trisha's inspiration to write was author Samit Basu's competition on Twitter, 'Novelrace'. Similarly, Niveditha and Sowmya are also familiar with the social media networks and different aspects of digital publishing. They are well-known storytellers and Sowmya is also involved in working with creating ebooks for children. These experiences definitely inform their form of writing fiction, especially in the layout of the text as well. It is peppered with fantastic black-and-white illustrations that only enrich the narrative. The style of using a diary being maintained by Mayil is a good device to use, since it enables the reader to immediately plunge into the story and a very private domain, creating the illusion of a close bond with the author, making it easier to comment upon sensitive topics like homosexuality and communalism. Nayana Currimbhoy’s style is charming, but more old school, probably in a genteel combination of Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie moulds. Yet, a tale that has presumably strong autobiographical elements to create the backdrop and some of the characters, but it is well-told. Chinku and the Wolf Boy presumably targets the YA reader as well, but ...


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