The bond between humans and animals is strong, yet strange. Here are some books that look at this relationship.
Beside Tabby McTat was an interesting title — The House of Thirty Cats by Mary Calhoun. Miss Tabitha Henshaw had 30 cats, and if you wanted a kitten for yourself, this was the house to visit, thought Sarah. The old lady and she become good friends and Sarah manages to help the old lady in the end.
And here was another. Cat Tales: The Cat with Two Names by Linda Newbery. Cat thought he was lucky. He had two owners, so that meant two breakfasts, two lunches, two suppers. But then he also had two names! And that can spell trouble.
Priya was thinking to herself about Indian authors writing about animals and when she looked around she found The Caterpillar Who Went on a Diet and Other Stories by Ranjit Lal. She read the blurb and found that it was a hilarious book featuring caterpillars, cockroaches, dragonflies, dung beetles, grasshoppers and so many other insects.
There was a rather colourful book with a picture of a tiger on the cover. It was by Ruskin Bond and was titled Tigers for Dinner: Tall Tales by Jim Corbett's Khansama. The illustrations were rather good and it was literally tall tales but all the same they seemed to be exciting.
Beastly Tales From Here and There by Vikram Seth was next. Seth has taken well known fables and given it a humourous twist. He says, the first two (stories) are from India, two from China, two from Greece, two from Ukraine and the last two from the Land of Gup!
Mongoose. squirrels, weasels
Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling is an age old favourite. This story is set in the 19th century and is about an English family that discovers a young mongoose that has almost drowned in a flood. They rescue it and take care of it. How Rikki Tikki Tavi takes charge of the garden and shows his supremacy in the fight with the two king cobras.
Another one by Rudyard Kipling is Just So Stories. The book carried stories explaining the beginning of armadillos, how the leopard got his spots, how the rhino got his skin and so on.
Then there were a pile of Beatrix Potter books. She was not only an author but also an illustrator, a natural scientist and a conservationist. She did the illustration in all her books. The Tale of Peter Rabbit seemed to be the most thumbed book in the series. There was The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tailor of Gloucester, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Two Bad Mice and many more.
Frank and the Black Hamster of Narkiz by Livi Michael — the cover itself made Priya laugh aloud. The story begins interestingly, “Most hamsters are gentle, timid, domesticated creatures. Easily tamed and house-proud, they need little more than a full bowl of food and an exercise wheel to adapt to their small homes. Some hamsters, however, are different...” This is a story about a hamster called Frank. His mission in life is “Courage”. He escapes his cage to meet the mysterious black hamster of Narkiz.
Another series that had magic and mystery in it was Linda Chapman’s My Secret Unicorn. Can you imagine how you would feel if one morning you woke up to find that your pony was not just an ordinary pony but had magical powers?
Everybody loves to day dream, but in the case of Dev he did so a bit more than others. Wherever he was, he dreamt. Follow his dreams in Daydreamer Dev Crosses the Sahara by Ken Spillman.
By the time Priya spied Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew she was tired. But the story of Nurk caught her interest. Nurk is a quiet shrew; that is until a plea comes in the post. He invokes the spirit of his warrior shrew grandmother Surka and sets off. The prince of dragonflies has been kidnapped and Nurk is the only hope they have!
Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion was described as the most famous fictional horse in the century by the New York Times. It is a bestselling series featuring a stallion and his owner Alec Ramsay. The first in the series is about the black stallion and the subsequent ones are of his offsprings.
It’s always difficult when you get to a new home, a new city, a new school. That’s what Roy finds when he has to shift to Florida and join a new school. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen tells the story of Roy and his being bullied by the well known bully Dana Matherson. Find out how he befriends Mullet Fingers and manages to save burrowing owls.
Abel’s Island by William Steig is a story of a mouse. He lived a comfortable life with his wife Amanda. But then one day he is swept off in a flood and unceremoniously dumped on an island. Here he has to learn to forage for food and learn to survive. Will he do it? Will he get back?
How often we have thought of running away from cramped spaces, schedules and deadlines? My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George is the story of 12-year-old Sam Gribley who is so tired of having to be cramped up in his parents’ apartment in New York City with his eight brothers and sisters.
He runs away to his great grandfather’s abandoned farm in the mountains and makes two unlikely friends with a peregrine falcon and a weasel.