The Adventures of Pilla the Pup and Other Stories
Author: Uma Anand
Illustrated by: Mario Miranda
Publisher: Om Kidz
Ages: 3 and above
The Adventures… is a collection of three sets of stories, that chronicle the misadventures of a motley group of talking animals. The author of this collection of stories, the late Uma Anand , was a well known journalist and author, most famously associated with the Aunty Wendy column in the Illustrated Weekly of India, and the Children’s Hour on All India Radio. Aimed at a very young audience, the stories are short, simple and cheerful, reminding me of the Winnie the Pooh stories, as well as Ermintrude (though lacking the dead pan humour of that famous talking cow and her cronies). The short chapters and amusing characters make the book especially entertaining for reading aloud to younger children.
Dul Dul the Magic Clay Horse begins with Dul Dul, a clay horse, magically coming to life and then promptly escaping from his unwitting creator. Dul Dul meets an assortment of characters - Pilla, the little black and white puppy, Pitki the squirrel, Cheep Cheep the baby bird, Garbar the ornery goat - and each meeting invariably sparks off a little adventure.
The Adventures of Pilla the Pup, the second set of stories in this book, follows the escapades of that little dog through run-ins with fierce cats, weeping donkeys and surly dhobis. Ladhu the donkey joins the group of friends, while Dul Dul reveals his talents as a songster.
Finally,The Tale of Lumbdoom the Long-tailed Langoor shifts the focus onto that eponymous simian and his friends – Bhola Bandar, Neeli the fish, Dumkat the tailless fox.The thrills are cranked up a notch as well, as the friends battle, and outwit formidable foes like Ajgar the python and Bhayanak Bhedia. I confess I was a little startled by the dark turn these stories took , as they end with the otherwise cheery, almost childlike animals banding together to kill their enemies.
The stories may seem dated, given the profusion of characters and ideas that children's publishing positively bursts with these days. Yet is hard not be charmed by the characters, and the simple, universal themes of these stories - friendship, tolerance, the importance of team spirit, helping a friend in need.
For me, the highlight of this book were the simple, yet stunning illustrations by that genius of line art, the late Mario Miranda It is a pleasure to see these characters come to life through his wonderful black and white drawings. I was especially thrilled by the sheer abundance of illustrations in this slim book - there is barely a page without a beautiful image to feast one's eyes on.
A review copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. All views expressed here, however, are my own.