Would you like to go on a magic carpet ride to Kashmir? Substitute the magic carpet with a Flying Magic Jharokha (a carved window) and you are off on an adventurous quest with Shamim Padamsee’s Deeya and Vayu in ‘Poachers in Paradise’.
This is the second in the series of ‘The Adventures of the Flying Magic Jharokha’. In the first book, Deeya and Vayu’s Uncle Jadoo, a clever magician, creates a Jharokha that flies. An evil djinn kidnaps Uncle Jadoo to coerce the secret of the Flying Jharokha out of Uncle. He imprisons Uncle Jadoo in a cage secured by seven magical keys. Clever Uncle Jadoo knows the hiding place of the keys and secretly gives seven cryptic clues to the Flying Jharokha, which is to be revealed to Deeya, and Vayu after each key is found. The children solve the first cryptic clue and find the first key in Rajasthan
The second book begins with Deeya and Vayu’s attempt to crack the second cryptic clue (“Valley green, Moghul queen, Marble screen”) that leads them to Kashmir. They stumble on a poacher who is in the act of shooting a Hangul, an endangered species of red deer endemic to Kashmir. Before they can react, the poacher’s evil designs are thwarted by Zoon, a young Kashmiri girl. Deeya and Vayu join hands with Zoon to catch the poachers while simultaneously trying to find the magic key. Will the intrepid trio foil the poachers’ plan in time? Will Deeya and Vayu find the second key?
Shamim Padamsee’s knowledge of Kashmir shines through; young readers learn about Kashmiri customs, traditions and dress in a fun way. The book makes one wonder what nuggets are hidden in Rebels in Rajasthan, the first book in the series that takes readers to Rajasthan. Illustrations by Sayantan Haldar give form to young reader’s imagination and support the storyline. In the next book, it would nice to have broad character strokes of Deeya and Vayu in the beginning of the book that would help young readers connect better with the protagonists.
There's a serious gap in children’s literature in India, of books that cater to young picture-book-readers who have graduated to chapter books. Shamim Padamsee fills the gap with this book where rollicking adventure and information about Kashmir go hand in hand to make a lively read.