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Updated: September 27, 2010 16:04 IST

Sporting a tale

MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN
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Twelve stories that are all about sport.

Sports don't just make for good physical activity but also for some engaging reading. Let's Play – The Puffin Book of Sports Stories is a case in point.

This book, which has an introduction by Harsha Bhogle, is a compilation of 12 short stories, each with one particular sport underlying its plot. From the obvious cricket in The Secret Weapon, its country cousin the gulli-danda in Gulli-Danda, to hockey, gold, basketball and more…

While some stories have plots completely woven around the sport, a few have it as a part of larger themes like friendship and compassion.

If you thought that only games like chess needed strategising, then “The Secret Weapon” will make you think again. It is an out and out cricket-based story that talks about on-field game play complete with field placement, bowling strategies. Cricket lovers are sure to enjoy it. For others, it is a good way to learn and look at cricket in a different light –a strategy sport.

“The Wind of Friendship” talks in detail about kite flying and the lingo associated with it, but in the end it is about how a privileged child forgoes her precious kite on looking at the happiness it brings to the underprivileged kids who cannot afford to buy one. The message on the kite — ‘May the Wind Carry our Friendship to all the Peoples of the World' — is what the kite symbolically does ultimately.

“My Mother's Game” is not as much about the game of hockey as it is about Neelu who tries to overcome her mother's death, a feeling of loneliness, and gains a sense of purpose by pursuing hockey. Even though it does not have too many takers in her new school, the mere pleasure of learning it and the happiness of playing a sport that her mother used to play, gives Neelu the much needed fresh start to a new life.

The language used in all the stories is simple and easy to comprehend for young readers. Also, the book is a great way to learn about other sports, their rules and terms. Towards the end of the book, there are notes on the contributors and some interesting word games, puzzles and jokes all based on the theme of sports. Though illustrations would have helped break the monotony of the words, the lack of it by no means is a dampener.

LET'S PLAY, The Puffin Book of Sports Stories, Puffin, Rs. 175

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