“A timeless classic read by children across the years and countries.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Flora Annie Steel, a memory of a fairy tale past revived by Ruskin Bond’s selections for Speaking Tiger’s Talking Cub imprint.
The Adventures of Prince Akbar is not one of the better known books but would be ideal for Indian children who are aware of Akbar the Great but not perhaps of his childhood escapades. Steel imagines him as a bold, brave baby whose parents abandon him at 13 months to save their own lives at the hands of King Humayun’s rebellious brothers, hoping that the baby will be saved.
Akbar with the help of his Foster Father and Mother, Head Nurse and the mysterious Roy does survive. He also acquires a dog and a cat, prattles in baby language and learns to walk – though the older he gets, the more endangered his life becomes.
Steel’s story shifts from the account of Akbar the baby to the machinations of his uncles and dangerous treks through snowy passes in an attempt to reach Kabul.
What stands out is the fact that the author is well aware of Indian customs and is gently writing to familiarize English children with them. Steel’s language belongs to her time but makes for quaint enjoyable reading and Bond’s introduction to Steel’s life, and her 22 years in the Punjab, adds to the experience.
Added 9th May 2018