WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
“To the inhabitants of the pond, the pond was the world; and to the inhabitants of the world, maintained Grandfather, the world was but a muddy pond.”
No matter how many years fly by, the charms of a Ruskin Bond book never fades. I have always been in awe of his writing and it is the simplicity of his writing and the subject of his stories that fascinate me the most.
What is the book about?
Owls in the Family is yet another collection of short stories from Ruskin Bond’s kitty. There are 15 stories that are compiled in this edition and the central theme of the book is “small town life”. Whether it is the characters, or the location or the subject, everything elucidates the beauty of living in a small town. One may find a change of characters or location but the theme remains the same.
Most stories in the book are very short – only 3 to 6 pages long, whereas two stories – The Blue Umbrella and Time Stops at Shamli are comparatively longer and take up most of the book.
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Since Owls in the Family mostly revolves around small-town life, it presents before us a world long forgotten. For many of us urban dwellers, it is as good as a getaway from the chaos of city life as a short vacation. The joy of bathing in a muddy pond, the thrill of riding a bicycle, the adventure of shooing out a leopard, the delight of seeing a tree grow, the terror of driving through a forest fire – these are only some of the things that you experience when you read Owls in the Family.
Ruskin Bond’s magic lies in penning stories that the readers don’t just read but experience. The same holds true for this book.
Most of the characters in the stories of this book are either relatives or animals. Sometimes it Uncle Ken with his strange bicycle ride, at other times it is Aunt Ruby with her cunning little parrot – many of the characters are people who Ruskin Bond associates with.
Many of the stories also revolve around animals – Aunt Ruby’s parrot who won’t talk, Grandfather’s fierce encounter with an Ostrich and rescue by his dog, little owlets who find a home in the grandfather’s house.
At other times, it is mundane objects that hold the central theme – an old cricket bat, a blue umbrella, a cherry tree, a steam engine. I loved the simplicity and beauty of such ordinary subjects.
Two stories especially caught my fancy – The Cherry Tree and Riding Through the Flames. Both the stories are about nature and a child’s interaction with it.
The Cherry Tree tells us about a young kid called Rakesh who when urged by his grandfather plants a cherry tree in his garden. As time goes by both Rakesh and the cherry tree start growing but there is always somebody impeding the tree’s growth – whether it’s a neighbour or a stray goat.
Riding Through the Flames is the story of a child named Romi whom circumstances force to take a ride through a flaming forest. In this adventure, he comes across the local milk boy Teju and forges a lasting friendship.
Overall, Owls in the Family is a good read. It is simple, beautiful and entertaining and is a perfect way to remember the good old days of one’s childhood. I will rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
Grab the book if
Grab Owls in the Family if you enjoy Ruskin Bond’s writing. Also, if you like short stories and short books then this book is an ideal one. With 15 stories, it just around 130 pages and that makes it an easy and quick read too.
Skip the book if
Skip the book only if you don’t like short stories. Also, if you don’t like to read simple stories, you may refrain from the book.
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