CHILDREN’S literature is something that has slowly grown in popularity over the years. The genre was gasping for life in the late 1980s but with the advent of the Harry Potter series, seems to have received a new lease of life. Indeed the Harry Potter books revived what is often an unjustly neglected genre of literature and now we have more writers than ever contributing to this exciting field.
The Puffin Book of Classic Stories for Girls is a compendium of extracts lifted from such classics as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Heidi, Matilda, Pride and Prejudice, Wizard of Oz, Pollyanna-books that all of us have grown up on. The stories in this collection span different countries and varied eras. Heidi, for instance, belonged to 19th century Switzerland while Binya is a 20th century product of the timeless majesty of the Himalayas. Anne Frank, on the other hand, belongs to one of the darkest periods of human history, and her story, because it reflected reality, is perhaps the most poignant. Six of these stories belong to the 19th century while the rest span the early to middle years of the twentieth. The collection also includes Guy de Maupassant’s short story ‘The Necklace’, which is the only complete work in this collection (all the rest being extracts).
Manjula Padmanabhan, herself an accomplished author, has collated extracts from some of the most loved children’s books to bring us this collection. Here you can read about Alice and the white rabbit, traipse with Binya, the little village girl as her blue umbrella becomes the envy of all, read about the true horrors of the life of the Jews during World War II, learn about how Dorothy saved the scarecrow or learn about woman who seems to have misplaced a priceless necklace. It’s a world far removed from the cares and tribulations of humdrum life, a world of the imagination that has enchanted generations of readers for more than two centuries. So, go ahead, dive right in!
(Puffin c/oPenguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11, Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110 017)