“Anjana does not pontificate but there is a hidden lesson – children can be agents of change if their imaginations are not stymied.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

India is in the throes of a cyber-revolution. Social media and cellphones rule the lives of children, adolescents and adults alike. So who reads books anymore? How can adults wean children away from cellphones and computers and re-connect them with nature? These are some questions doing the rounds for the last so many years in the media, in middle and upper income bracket drawing rooms in small town and urban India. Many of these concerns have found their way into Anjana Basu’s story ‘ Leopard in the Laboratory’.

A young boy has a ‘life-changing experience’ when he goes to a hill station with his parents and has an exciting adventure with a tiger, a ghost and a poaching racket. Meet Rohan, the protagonist of Anjana Basu’s story ‘In the Shadow of Leaves’, which was also published by The Energy and Resources Institute. He’s back again, in this story, along with his friend Manjul a child of the hills and forests and as connected to nature as he is to the Internet. The main cast of characters is the same, this time though, a different feline prowls the pages of ‘Leopard in the Laboratory’ ― the second book in the series from the same publisher.

The book is not about a single adventure. All three protagonists’ ― two children and a shadow ― have a series of thrilling experiences. A growl in the darkness as a train speeds through Rudraprayag; followed by two glowing eyes and the thud of a paw…that’s a bad dream that Rohan had. Maybe, but what about flashes in the forest on a dark night…on…off…on…off…like Morse code? And who was it that Rohan saw smiling at him that night? There was no one there when the night watchman switched on his powerful torch! Sunlight dapples the forest. But the play of light and shade hides a leopard that stalks Manjul. A moving shadow materializes into a man’s silhouette and thwarts the attack. The legendary hunter-conservationist Jim Corbett – whose books the children devour ― is the third protagonist in Anjana’s tale; and he is far from a sleeping partner. Communicating telepathically with the children he has them save a poisoned leopard. Anjana does not pontificate but there is a hidden lesson – children can be agents of change if their imaginations are not stymied.

The entire story is very well crafted and complete in itself.

 

Reviewed by:

Vijayluxmi Bose

Added 1st August 2016

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