‘Once upon a time there was a story. The child who read it was so enchanted that she/he couldn’t stop at just one and kept searching for more and more.’
I have been reading short stories collections a lot lately. A couple of weeks ago guys from aleph publishing got in touch with me. They were offering ‘Best Stories from Around the World’ to review. I quickly jumped at the opportunity. The fairy-tale like beginning was enough to get me started with the collection.
The enchanting cover design of the book was another reason I was looking forward to reading the book. Birds, animals, nature and stars all live happily in the book and that is reflected in the cover page as well. Magenta colour scheme with golden embossed lettering gives an impression of children’s fantasy tales. It is a beautiful cover which can be parked on the shelf and passed on to generations ahead. I wish it was available in hardback!
The stories have different characters, all of them alluring. There is a selfish giant who hates children playing in his garden. There is a poor couple who find the most appropriate gifts for each other. They invent the art of giving gifts. There are a group of children who have fun playing truth and dare and discover a great thing about their neighbour. And of course! There is Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watsons. There is a man who travels through the world of fantasy and escapes his wife.
All the characters in the book are great to great about. Each of them is intimately written about. They bring certain nostalgia with themselves. It is like your grandfather telling you stories to bed.
The book is a collection of short stories curated by Deepa Agarwal. The stories are primarily for children but can be enjoyed by adults as well. You will find stories from your childhood such as ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘Gift of Maggie’ and ‘The Tin Soldier’ I remember reading these for school. There is also a story from ‘Sherlock Holmes’ which has launched my interest in Sherlock Holmes stories which I have tried but never really liked reading earlier. So, thank you aleph for piquing my interest in the character. The mere are several stories that have been translated from different languages and they all bring to you the diversity in story writing. They make you understand that the world is huge and the stories are numerous.
In ‘A Minikin-Eared Ewe’ by Tsendyun Damdinsuren translated by D Altangerel the author talks about his experience with fire as a shepherd and his great love for Minikin-Eared Ewe. It brings out a sort of nostalgia for the past. Valia by Leonid Andreiev translated by Lizzie B Gorin is a story of a childhood with different sets of parents. The conflicting nature of their authority over the child and how he deals with the confusing nature of his relationship with both. ‘The Accursed House’ is a funny story about a house who’s owner happens to be a kind hearted fool who ends up scaring people out of not only the house but the entire neighbourhood. Amongst the new authors, the book includes a story by Jerry Pinto. It is a funny cum ghost story titled ‘Saritha Kamakshi Makes a Mistake’. Rip Van Winkle is another story close to my heart -Full of fantasy and life. This one is a must read. These stories have beautiful beginnings and more beautiful ends. These will remind you why you got into read at first.
There was one particular story that I had difficulty understanding. Namely ‘Bother Rabbit’s Cradle’ by Joel Chandler Harris. The language was difficult to catch hold of and I gave up of it ultimately.
These stories are meant for all the age groups and therefore the language has been kept simple. These consist of short sentences and easy to understand words. There is a whiff of childhood nostalgia in all of the stories. They are written extremely well. Well curated.
With cover design, it was love at first sight. The characters are all so different and curios to read about. Rip Van Winkle is probably my most loved characters from all the stories. The stories are just beautiful. These are meant to be told and retold. The collection is well curated by the author.
I did not particularly dislike anything in the book except I was expecting few stories from the new-age authors.
It is an interesting set of stories from all around the world. These are a must read!
Whom do I recommend this to
This book is for everyone, children and adults alike. Those who enjoy short stories every once in a while are going to love this collection.