Ruskin Bond has been writing for over sixty years, and has now over 120 titles in print – novels, collection of short stories, poetry, essays, anthologies and books for children. His first novel, THE Room on the Roof, received the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Award in 1957. He has also received the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014.
There are 18 short stories in this book, the last section being a short autobiography of the author.
Here, I have mentioned the title of 8 stories with excerpts from each story to give you a glimpse of the author’s elegant and easy craft of writing, the stories in this book are mostly based on the wonderful sync which humans have with nature for survival. This book is a delightful read for adults and an exciting read for children between the age-group of 8 to 12 years.
A SPECIAL TREE
In the cherry tree, bees came to feed on the nectar in the blossoms, and tiny birds pecked at the blossoms and broke them off. But the tree kept blossoming right through the spring and three were always more blossoms than birds. (pg. 7)
THE SCHOOL AMONG THE PINES
Fortunately, Bina’s village was not in the pine belt; the fires did not reach it. But Nauti was surrounded by a fire that raged for three days, and the children had to stay away from school.
And then, towards the end of June, the monsoon rains arrived and there was an end to forest fires. (pg. 33)
THE WIND ON HAUNTED HILL
Whoo, whoo,whoo, cried the wind as it swept down from the Himalayan snows …
… There was nearly always a strong wind in these parts. Three children were spreading clothes out to dry on a low stone wall, putting a stone on each piece.
Eleven-year-old Usha, dark- haired and rose-cheeked, struggled with her grandfather’s long, loose shirt. Her younger brother, Suresh, was doing his best to hold down a bedsheet, while Usha’s friend, Binya, a slightly older girl, helped. (pg. 41- 42)
TIGER MY FRIEND
For an hour the villagers beat the jungle, shouting, drumming, and trampling the undergrowth.
The tiger had no rest. Whenever he was able to put some distance between himself and the men, he would sink down in some shady spot to rest; but, within a few minutes, the trampling and drumming would come nearer, and with an angry snarl he would get up again and pad northwards, along the narrowing strip of jungle, towards the bridge across the river. (pg. 75)
There was enough space for Tutu to look out of the bag occasionally, and to be fed with bananas and biscuits, but she could not get her hands through the opening and the canvas was too strong for her to bite her way through.
Tutu’s efforts to get out only had the effect of making the bag roll about on the floor or occasionally jump into the air – an exhibition that attracted a curious crowd of onlookers at the Dehra and Meerut railway stations. (pg. 83- 84)
WHEN THE TREES WALKED
‘One day the trees will move again,’ said Grandfather. ‘They’ve been standing still for thousands of years but there was a time when they could walk about like people. Then along came an interfering busybody who cast a spell over them, rooting them to one place. But they’re always trying to move. See how they reach out their arms! And some of them, like the banyan tree with its travelling aerial roots, manage to get quite far.’ (pg. 132)
PRET IN THE HOUSE
He began by hiding Grandmother’s spectacles whenever she took them off.
‘I’m sure I put them down on the dressing-table,’ she grumbled.
A little later they were found balanced precariously on the snout of a wild boar, whose stuffed and mounted head adorned the veranda wall. Being the only boy in the house, I was at first blamed for this prank; but a day or two later, when the spectacles disappeared again only to be discovered dangling from the wires of the parrot’s cage, it was agreed that some other agency was at work. (pg. 143)
THE NIGHT THE ROOF BLEW OFF
Our roof had held fast in many a storm, but the wind that night was really fierce. It came rushing at us with a high-pitched, eerie wail. The old roof groaned and protested, it took a battering for several hours while the rain lashed against the windows and the lights kept coming and going. (pg.169)
I had purchased this book from Amazon; you too can grab a copy for yourself through this direct Amazon link – GREAT STORIES FOR CHILDREN – By Ruskin Bond