Ravana Refuses to Die
Priya Kuriyan
age group: 
9+ yrs
Number of pages: 
fiction adventure humour


This is a hilarious set of four separate stories with four irrepressible, quarrelsome, excitement- hungry adventurers : Muru, Jeetu, Chipkili and Chippa - the Babubari Gang.

The stories share the same setting of Babubari village/ town where the four get sucked into misadventures. They watch the local oily sethji playing Ravana (with a twist at the end), try to put together a do - it - yourself vimana/ spaceship and deal with a friend's kidnapping disguised as hanumans. In the last and probably the best story - they make friends with an adivasi boy - a bonded labourer, and help rescue him in an outlandish manner as they find something precious beneath an old Ram temple. In the process they teach some lessons to rapacious grown ups. It is refreshing that even when making a point or contemporary reference - the writer does not talk down to his child readers.

The illustrations by Priya Kuriyan are eye popping - and filled with tiny chuckle- worthy details like the chaotic scene in the barber shop, the poster with misspelt words and the line of frenzied, hysterical guests outside the toilet. They complement well the madness unleashed in the stories by the author who has a knack for narrating adventures gone hilariously wrong.

The language is appropriate and fun for children. The use of not -so - propah words like " keeda", " ekdum fast", dhakkan", "faltu" is refreshing and earthy and the scientific terms - dropped casually into the dialogue and references to interplanetary travel, will quietly add to the readers' vocabulary and general knowledge, as will the revisiting of the Ramayana.

This is also a very good book to read aloud as the author uses sound words and also strings of synonyms in interesting ways which will make the stories great fun.

One's adult sensitivity to sexist portrayals might be aroused as Chipkili is taunted and teased by the boys; children in real life though do tease each other this way and thankfully Chipkili does give it back too. While the boys make valiant attempts to rescue her from her kidnappers - a twist to the Ramayan theme again - the author describes her as a girl who can hold her own with the three boys, slinging catapults and horsing around.

Apart from a minor quibble about the shifts in tenses especially in the first story that children might find tough to negotiate - this is a good read.

Upper primary and middle school kids should enjoy these rambunctious tales with loony adults - quirks described in glorious detail - This is a laugh riot for children especially those who enjoy the references to the Ramayana with contemporary twists. 

Reviewed by Urmila Ramakrishna