The highly popular series The Diary of a Wimpy Kid has scored bulls-eye with kids all over the globe. Children are lapping up the books faster than they can get printed.
STOOB is cast in a similar mould. However, it is a totally home-grown version. It reflects the agony and the ecstasy of the preteen and early teen years of young boys in India; describing the angst of that awkward age when they are fast approaching adolescence. An age, that is not always the prettiest and most painless of experiences – neither physical nor mental nor emotional.
It is a time when physical growth spurts may cause embarrassment, and the hormones play havoc, crushes on fellow students and sometimes even on their teachers is rampant, and worse still often a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt prevails; all-in-all not the easiest phase of growing up.
On the surface the story is quite breezy and a light read, and yet it beautifully touches upon many important topics; viz., the need to study hard, the value of friendship and so on. At the same time, there is a strong underlying message in the storyline for the need for parental guidance to steer the child through those choppy waters.
It also suggests that students may get enticed to find a easy way out to obtain those all–important grades and sometimes even rope in their parents to support their dastardly endeavor, as, we saw recently happening in a school in Bihar, where intrepid parents scaled the walls of the school building; risking life and limb, to hand over the answer papers to their wards!
Hence, this book is very timely and offers a lot of scope for discussion in book clubs and school libraries.
That said, the book is not at all preachy. Even though, it has raised many pertinent issues, it is a fun read with great tongue-in-cheek humour, that will appeal to the funny bone in the kids. The readers may also find anecdotes in it, that in many ways could be a reflection of their own experiences, their own lives.
The review of the book will not be complete without a mention of the utterly whacky and yet delightful illustrations. They are not actual renditions of the storyline, but take off from the comical situations in the book, thereby meriting a second glance and perhaps even a third!
Young India Books recommends.