Monday 29 August 2016
facebook.com/Outlookindia twitter.com/outlookindia digimag.outlookindia.com instagram.com/outlookindia youtube.com/user/OutlookMagazine

The ‘I’ Of The Tiger

Not a book to just skip through. You are so spellbound that you just don’t want to miss a word
In The Shadow Of The Leaves
By Anjana Basu
Teri Press | Pages: 176 | Rs. 250

When I first picked up this book, I thought, ‘Ah! I’ll be done with this one by the evening’. It’s a slim little one that seemed to be an easy read. However, three days later and I’m still gasping to catch my breath. For this is not a book to just skip through. You are so spellbound that you just don’t want to miss a word. Big hearts really do come in small packages.

The cover has a tiger approaching you, emerging out of a forest. But this is not a usual tiger story. Because some of it is told in the tiger’s own voice. And those are my favourite parts, because Anjana really does get into the tiger’s skin to bring us never seen before insights into the big cat’s world. There’s a particularly hair-­raising moment. You first see the incident from the point of view of the young protagonists—Rohan, a city boy struggling with maths and holiday homework, and Manjul, a village girl who herds her cows, struggling to put some money for her father’s operation. Both are out further into the forest than they’ve ever been before. They don’t notice the grass shaking more than the breeze could be shaking it. They leave, unaware of the danger that was so close. Turn the page and you read the same incident, but seen through the tiger’s eyes. And he’s close, just a deadly leap away.

Advertisement

The story packs in a lot of information about that bane of our times, human-animal conflict, and the need for buffer zones. But it’s so well entwined into the story that you don’t get burdened with explanations. It’s an useful skill for an author, especia­lly one writing for young people, for you can’t be giving them a lecture. And yet, if you don’t explain, there are going to be gaps in the story. Anjana gets this delicate balance right.

Otherwise wonderful, the story is wrapped up too perfectly. The author could have left a few questions unanswered.

And then, there’s a ghost. Unbelievably, there’s so much packed into this tiny book. He’s creepy at first and does manage to spook. You’re scared and grateful for him at the same time. However, I felt he comes out in the open a bit too much. As perhaps does the tiger. I think the cover of the forest would have served the narrative better, kept both tiger and ghost more shadowy and less approachable. As it is, they get kind of friendly, which takes away the spook factor.

The other problem I had with this otherwise wise and wonderful book is that it’s wrapped up too perfectly. In the battle for land, the human-ani­mal conflict, there are no easy answers. So the author did not need to provide them. She could have left some questions unanswered. Sometimes we tend to forget the wisdom of children and feel we must provide answers. We don’t. I believe in letting young readers feel the discomfort of unanswered questions, unresolved problems. There wasn’t any need to sugar this charmer of a book.

And now I am a bit overwhelmed. I too have been busy writing a first-person tiger book. How do I deal with those maddening, undealable mom­ents? How do I reveal enough, but not too much? Yes, it’s easier to write a critique than a book.


(Paro Anand is the author of many children and young adult books)

READ MORE IN:
AUTHORS: Paro Anand
SECTION: Books
SUBSECTION: Reviews
OUTLOOK: 25 August, 2014
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Review
These pacy thrillers put two southern cities on the crime map
MAGAZINE August 24, 2016
Review
The dark world Harry & Co inhabit changes little after 22 years
MAGAZINE August 24, 2016
Extract
How a brutal LTTE directive was lost in the static of intelligence
MAGAZINE August 18, 2016
Review
A RBI governor remembers his doughty fights, but cuts down on the math
MAGAZINE August 11, 2016
Book Extract
Abused by a relative at six, Laxmi saw how patriarchy tried to crush her femininity. And she made it come back to crush them, ‘those straight men with wives and kids’.
MAGAZINE August 10, 2016
read more>>>
OUTLOOK ON TWITTER
POLLS

In 1999, India and France entered into a $3.5 billion deal for the supply of these submarines. The first of the 6 subs is out on sea trials for the last three months and is to be commissioned later this year. At this stage, a newspaper in Australia has revealed secret data on the submarines, plausibly stolen from India. Indian Defence authorities have ruled out any pilferage of data from India.

POLL STARTED ON: Aug 26, 2016
Quiz
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 31st Olympic Games from August 5 to 21. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Here’s a quiz on some random Olympic facts and related trivia.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Aug 11, 2016
Advertisement