Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Forbidden Temple

stories from the past
Author: T. V. Padma
Illustrator: Bhavana Vyas

Although history was a firm favourite to me during my initial years of school, it was never a favourite among friends. Almost every one would pull a long face when the discussion turned to history. Then along came a teacher named Mr. Arumugam who brought in a fresh breath of air to the subject with his propensity to rattle off dates and dazzle us with his breadth of historical information. History as a subject became more fascinating when it was mixed with his stories, imaginary and real, and his style of delivery. 

Padma T Venkatraman makes history fascinating in this wonderful compilation of tales set in historical settings. Her stories mesmerize and gives a brief glimpse of a historical period. A glimpse brief enough to entice one to find out more about that particular era.

Imagine an old Mughal miniature painting showing many people playing a game like polo with a burning ball. T V Padma uses this as a setting to write one of her memorable stories. Akbar, the great Mughal king, is frustrated that he cannot play the game of Chaugan after sunset. Daughter of one his courtiers is also equally in love with the game. Her desire to play the game and her solution to Akbar's problem forms the rest of the story. If we analyse this story historically, it is known that Akbar was a great player of Chaugan and loved the game; there are many miniature paintings showing Mughals playing polo; some miniature paintings of women of that era also likely to have played the game. All these facts are used by the author to stitch this wonderful story. 

In similar vein, all the other stories in this book are equally well researched and seem very authentic. She also provides some interesting tidbits along with the story which provides enough information for an eager one to explore further or a teacher to use it as a study reference. Infact, there is an extensive teachers guide provided by the author at this link

This book reminded me of another lovely book on history - Anu Kumar's In The Country of Gold Digging Ants


Choxbox said...

And I just re-read this book today, what a coincidence! One of my favourite, wish T.V.Padma would do more books for kids. Especially like the first story.

Also came got another book in this genre recently - Subhadra Sen Gupta's The Secret Diary of the World's Worst Cook. Great book.

Came across Michael Rosen's collection titled Funny Stories, that has a story set in prehistoric times in which a hunter-gatherer is cribbing about how life has changed, as his sons are now no longer sticking to the old methods but adopting practices like growing their own crops etc. Written very wittily.

Historical fiction in kid-lit is one genre that I feel is still not exploited enough especially in the case of Indian history.

Choxbox said...


utbtkids said...

I have Shining Stones and The Forbidden Temple and I haven't read them. What exactly am I thinking or not thinking?!

Choxbox said...

utbt: Read 'em and then tell us what you think!

sathish said...

Chox, Subhadra Sen Gupta's book sounds yummy.

Utbt, This book is a real treasure. I borrowed it from library and we ended up buying the book after reading the book.

sathish said...

Chox, I have gone through Michael Rosen's Sad Book. That was pretty well laid out to illustrate sadness, loneliness and depression. Illustrations by Quentin Blake for this book are, as usual, extremely good.

Choxbox said...

Yeah Quentin Blake is an institution by himself! There was this awesome exhibition of his works at the national portrait Gallery long ago in London, sigh..miss all of that!

Funny stories is a compilation edited by Rosen, with a couple of stories authored by him. The one I mentioned is called Times Aren't What They Were by Karel Capek. Quite an interesting take it is, would love to lend it to you some time.

utbtkids said...

Finished. Loved it. Such a contemporary spin based on historical facts.

sathish said...

utbt, which were your favs in the list?

I like the karikala cholan's story, one based on harappa and nice little tidbits of historical info that she had sprinkled all over the stories.

ansh said...

your writing is too effective n simple......

such a nice book n story,,.

thanks for such post.....

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