Escape form Java and other Tales of Danger
Ruskin Bond
Priya Kuriyan
age group: 
9+ yrs
Number of pages: 
value education historical adventure
Realistic Fiction


The five tales of danger and adventure in this collection have feisty characters that live life on the edge and combat grave situations with inspiriting courage. “Earthquake” is a semi-historic record of the tremors that convulsed Assam in the late nineteenth century.

The narrator’s family is displaced and devastated, but see themselves through the crisis with courage as they reflect, “We’re the lucky ones! We’re alive, aren’t we?” In contrast is the character of little Romi in “Riding through the Flames” who throws a gauntlet of challenge towards Nature when he fearlessly rides through a burning jungle on his new bicycle which has endowed him with a sense of power.

The narration is fast-paced and engaging and the content is exploratory. “A Flight of Pigeons”, an extract from a novella by the same name, is a slice of socio-political history set in Shahjahanpur in 1857, an eventful year in Indian history. The central protagonist, Ruth Labadoor displays rare mettle while nursing her wounded father and an uncommon dignity while in hiding. “Escape from Java” moves out of the precincts of civil disturbances and enters the realm of the Second World War realistically depicted with imperialist rulers and Japanese fighter-planes set to alter power equations and territorial boundaries. A seaplane is the means by which the narrator and his father escape from war-torn Djakarta before they spend a couple of days in a dinghy; sun-burnt and parched with whales for company. The story has elements of adventure that are sure to make for fascinating reading for young boys.

“Sita and the River” is a particularly noteworthy story since Ruskin Bond has admitted that it was the first ever story that he wrote specifically for children. Sita and her friend Vijay are dislodged from their rustic bliss by the flooding of a river. Their experiences which follow this incident make up the content of the story which is marked with meticulous description, tension, terror, fantasy and a happy ending with a reasonable measure of didacticism.

The collection weaves in nuggets of history, geography and nature study with a sprinkling of Bond’s inimitable de facto humor and homespun philosophy making it a wholesome reading fare.

Reviewed by Dr Ms Ishrat Ali Laljee


The five tales of danger written by Ruskin Bond are really extraordinary. The characters have to face great challenges and dangers in their life.
Each moment when I was reading the story was full of suspense and thrill. The characters are intrepid heroes and dauntless heroines in the quest for survival against earthquake, fire, the attack of rioting Sepoy against the British, floods and bombs ! They live life on the edge with lots of danger and adventure.

Romi flees as he rides his new bi-cycle straight in to the river to escape a fearsome forest fire; Ruth's hair-raising story of escape from rioting Sepoy during the uprising of 1857; the author's miraculous flight from Java as Japanese planes bombard the city; the havoc wreaked by the deadliest earthquake ever in Rakesh's town, Shillong; and Sita combat a fatal flood that threatens to engulf her.

Thrilling plots, daring protagonists, explosive exploits - this book has it all ! Written in Ruskin Bond's inimitable style, with doses of humor and excitement, these extraordinary stories are simply unputdownable.

My favorite story among the five is "Sita and the River" because Sita is very brave, courageous and daring. She is brave because she climbed upon the tree confidently without fear and she is very caring to her grandparents. I found that she is caring to her grandparents even when the fatal flood spread over the island so she took her grandparents' precious things more care, packed them in a trunk and took them with her to the tree. That time her grandparents were in Shahganj's hospital.

So, therefore I knew the different types of danger and how we should save ourselves in that period.