Hachette India has recently published two magnificently produced anthologies of stories for children — 100 Greatest Short Stories for Younger Children and 50 Greatest Short Stories for Older Children . These are collections with a mix of the oft anthologised folk tales, short stories and extracts in the English Literature canon but also some of the well-known stories from India or rather, mostly Bengal. Truly loads of fun! Just the kinds of books one relishes reading, recollecting favourite stories read in the past and sharing with the next generation. The emotions created at remembering them are as strong as when first encountered.
This is an excellent attempt at correcting the material with examples of Indian literature but it is inexplicable why the editors chose to represent India as the land of Hindus and Buddhists with theinclusion of more than one story from the epics and the Jataka Tales while ignoring all the other faiths that are an intrinsic part of this magnificently multi-cultural country? It is even more baffling since a few months ago, Hachette India produced a truly stupendous book called The Phoenix in the Sky: Tales of Wonder and Wisdom from World Religions retold by Indira Ananthakrishnan. So why not include stories that were already published in this collection assuming the sensitivity to India’s great diversity rather than capitulating to majoritarianism exists within the publishing team? It would be perhaps easier to ask this question of the editors who put together these anthologies except they are not mentioned anywhere in the books.
Having said that, 100 Greatest Short Stories for Younger Children and 50 Greatest Short Stories for Older Children are fabulous collections. A must have whether in a personal library or a school/classroom library. These books would also make excellent gifts given the affordable price of Rs 599 for a hardback. Good stuff!
17 Jan 2021