Summer holidays. I was back in my grandparents' place. But now that I was in senior school I had a lot of ‘holiday homework' to complete. Whoever heard of ‘holiday homework'? Anyway, there I was in the garden, trying to accomplish two jobs at one go – that is my homework and trying to meet my friend Gnobo.
I love having Gnobo around during the holidays because he always takes me places where no one has ever been before. Gnobo is a little goblin that lives somewhere deep in a bed of marigold.
Gnobo and I were talking and he was telling me about this and that until he suddenly said, “Do you know, I have found a dungeon and there is a treasure in it!”
“What?” I exclaimed. “How can you find treasure in a dungeon? And where are there dungeons in this day and age?”
Gnobo refused to tell me anything more. “If you come with me I will show you,” was all he would say. So I had no choice but follow.
Gnobo ran down the garden path, passed an orchard, down the hill, crossed a stream and then all of a sudden he stopped!
“Sssh!” he said. “It could be tricky getting into the tunnel if you wake up the dragons.”
“Dragons?” I exclaimed. “Which age are you living in?”
But Gnobo didn't stop to answer. He simply disappeared. I found an opening in the bushes and pushed my way in. It was rather dark but I saw Gnobo in front of me. He pointed out something to me. To my surprise it was a dragon! It was fast asleep and every time it breathed a puff of smoke and fire came out of its nostrils. I was too amazed to say anything!
We walked on until we came to an opening. It was large and airy. And all around were shelves and shelves, and unbelievably there were hundreds and hundreds of books on these shelves. I almost screamed with joy. I ran around the shelves, touching the books to see if they were real. And to my utter delight, they were.
The first shelf I came across had all the books in the Chalet school series. All 62 books! Can you just imagine my joy? The series begins with Joey Bettany's sister Madge deciding to start a school in Austrian Tyrol. Joey is one of the first students of the school.
Madge decided on a school in Austria because her kid sister Joey always becomes sick in the English winter. The school grows from a handful of students to a school where girls from all over the world come to study. The Chalet school stories take you from the mundane everyday life in schools to adventure, mystery and even the World War!
The first book in the series is The School in the Chalet and Joey is the central character in the books. The author of this amazing series is Elinor Brent-Dyer.
There can be no treasure without the books by Enid Blyton. But I found that on these shelves there were more beside the usual school series of Malory Towers and St. Claire's and the adventure series with the Famous Five and the Secret Seven and so on. I found the very interesting Wishing Chair books. There are three books here, beginning with the Adventures of the Wishing Chair, followed by The Wishing Chair Again and finally More Wishing Chair Stories.
The story begins with two kids, Mollie and Peter, trying to find a gift for their mother for her birthday. They stumble upon an antique shop that is run by fairy folk. It is there that they find the magic wishing chair and there begins a never-ending chain of adventures. Then I saw The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, Mister Meddle's Mischief, Adventures of Mr. Pink Whistle, Bed-Time Stories, The Children of Willow Farm…and oh! so many more.
The Roald Dahl shelf also did not disappoint. Almost all his books were there. James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The Witches and The BFG and The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. There were even some of his poetry books too, Dirty Beasts and Rhyme Stew.
Gnobo, in the meantime, was rushing through the shelves calling out names of books and authors. I could hear him from somewhere across the aisle.
“Abel's Island by William Steig, Babe, the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith, The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs, The Ruby in the Smokeby Philip Pullman…”
“Stop it, Gnobo,” I shouted, “I can't keep track. And where are you?”
“I am at the shelf that has books by Ruskin Bond. Here's the whole Rusty books and The Ruskin Bond Omnibus and more…”
“This is surely a treasure trove. Here on this shelf I have so many – The Puffin Book of Spooky Ghost Stories, The Magic Store of Nu-Cham Vu, The Feluda Mysteries, Malgudi Schooldays… Oh! I can't wait to begin reading them all!
Have you read these?
Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights
The story is about a Persian king who gets married and expects his new bride to tell him a story every night. If she cannot tell a story he has her beheaded. Finally, Scheherazade, the vizier's daughter offers to be the king's bride. She begins to tell a story but it does not end that night. So the king cannot behead her, because he has to hear the end of the story. And so it continues for 1001 nights. Some of the more famous stories in this book are Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
His parents want him to study Law, but Crusoe wants to sail the high seas. Sail he does and ends up having many an adventure. He lands up on an island inhabited by cannibals and during one skirmish rescues a prisoner, Friday, who then becomes his faithful ally. A story of daring and adventure. A story of being able to pursue your dreams.
Goody Two-Shoes by Oliver Goldsmith
Margery Meanwell, an orphan, has only one shoe. Then one day, she is given a pair by a rich gentleman. She tells everyone, that she now has “two shoes”!
The Children of New Forest by Frederick Marryat
Colonel Beverley is killed in the Battle of Naseby (June 1645). His family lived in Arnwood which the soldiers have burnt down. Everyone thinks his children are dead. But, actually they had escaped and are being taken care of by Jacob Armitage, a gamekeeper, in his cottage in the New Forest.
There are more ... Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland, The Coral Island, Little Women, Lorna Doone, The Swiss Family Robinson, Rip Van Winkle, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Ivanhoe, The Three Musketeers…
A little bit of India
Mister Jeejeebhoy and the Birds by Anitha Balachandran
Diya and Tara come to live in their aunt Ninamasi's house. And then there is Mister Jeejeebhoy's sweetshop. Read the book to find out what happens to Diya and Tara.
History, Mystery, Dal and Biryani by Subhadra Sen Gupta
Travel back in time and discover an India so different, so colourful and so full of adventure.
Exquisite Balance by Poile Sengupta
Suprabha and Subir are twins. But their mother is in for a surprise. She realises that her twins are nothing like each other!
Flippi the Flying Pup, Squiggly goes for a Picnic, Lippo goes to a Party and Cheeko and the School Bag by Deepa Agarwal
Flippi is a dog that can fly. Squiggly is an untidy worm. Lippo loves a good party and Cheeko loves mangoes and goes to school.
The Giant who Looked for his Temper by Santhini Govindhan
Boomba lived in a cave and he had no friends. Everyone was scared of him because he had a nasty temper. And then one day Boomba tries to find a way to control his temper.
Kali and the Rat Snake by Zai Whitaker
Kali has just joined school and he hates every minute of it. He has no friends because everyone thinks he is different. His father is a snake catcher! Find out how Kali fares…