” Three boys, two girls and one dog—no, you haven’t heard this before!“
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Five kids without a dog and any resemblance to Enid Blyton is intentional. The Rulebreakers have their differences, though Keerti who is into arm-wrestling and eating three hard boiled eggs a day could make a suitable substitute for George in the Famous Five.
The others are themselves, Jagganathan who is a scaredy cat from time to time, Monica who chips in with bits of dialogue. All they need is that dog to complete their club which is a protest against parental rules. And the one they acquire is a trendy pug called Spike who is drawn like a jowly bulldog and who has a never-ending appetite and loads of attitude.
Having got the dog they then spend the next book trying to get rid of him which involves a bank robbery and a ghost. Rajendran throws in references to current political trends in throwaway pieces of dialogue. Anna Hazare for his fasting, Abhishek Bachchan with whom Jagganathan sympathises because he is constantly being compared to his grandfather.
Rajendran tells a funny story – though the text is often at the mercy of the illustrations. Thicker books with larger type would have been more fun to flip through. Dog poop and terrorism jostle for attention space along with a whacky cast of characters, mainly old folks with attitude like the lady who hits a bank robber on the head with her umbrella, who are true to the Chennai that they inhabit. Much of it is very typical of today’s India with its odd mix of tradition and extreme modernity.
Yes, there are things that stretch an adult’s belief – 13 year olds would not have enough pocket money to hire a Sumo for a dognapping even in these days of inflation. One also has doubts about their school principal who believes the word of anyone who says he or she is from the police. Presumably those glitches will be sorted out in later tangles with Spike.
And, sadly, the titles of the chapters do not do Rajendran’s wit justice, though they are short and snappy in keeping with today’s impatient generation.
Added 26th June 2017
The Dog Who Wanted More
The Ghost Who Wasn’t There