Under my byline

Book-let

Posted in Books by Rrishi on 28 February 2009

Short review

Jaspar Utley, Nose UncleNose Uncle
Jaspar Utley
Puffin/Penguin
pp vi + 202

There’s something uplifting about this jewel-like little book. It’s brightly coloured and glossy, the author’s name is striking, it’s printed in a nice large font, it feels like it belongs in your hands. But the best thing on the cover is the title.

Nose Uncle is the brother of Nisha and Ram’s father. The children are spending a vacation with him in his eccentric and book-stacked home in the middle of a mango grove near the sea south of Chennai. His name comes from his nose, a magnificent organ that helps him in his dual pursuits: for Nose Uncle is a professional archaeologist and amateur detective. His nose helps him sniff out both kinds of clues.

From archaeology to intrigue to mortal danger to triumph, the plot moves as fast as Nose Uncle deduces and the children are eager to help. Too fast, perhaps. But the rush is soothed by the familiarity of the environment, even though the picture is slightly warped — Jaspar Utley is, after all, a British expat. The Indian edition could have done with a few Tamil words in it to limit the English quotient.

All the same, it’s marvellous to see archaeology and adventure in close proximity in a book for pre-teens. I’m looking forward to Nose Uncle’s next book.

(Visit the publisher’s page.)

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