Popular author Ruskin Bond, whose stories from the mountains have been regaling young readers for decades, turned 87 on Wednesday (May 19). To mark the occasion, Bond’s long-standing publisher Penguin India has brought out a keepsake edition of his hand-picked stories.
“All-time Favourites for Children” has stories of misadventures, travails with eccentric relatives, evocative stories of mountains and nature, tales of birds and beasts and heart-warming stories of friendship and compassion, written in signature Bond style,” says Sohini Mitra, publisher of Penguin Random House.
The 25 stories in the collection include Rusty’s adventures; grandfather’s stories; spooky tales along with a diverse set of new stories like Goldfish Don’t Bark and Friends from the Forest.
Bond says many of his favourite stories are in this collection. “I have added a few new ones, written in recent months. I hope you will enjoy them. And while you are busy leafing through this book, dear reader, I will take off to the bazaar in search of a hot, fresh samosa,” he writes in the introduction to the book.
In the preface, the writer says that he has been telling stories all his life, which in turn is a story in itself.
“Someone once asked me where I get the ideas for my stories. Well, if you like people and find them interesting, you won’t run out of stories. If you like birds and animals and flowers and trees and the world around you, you won’t run out of ideas. Stories and ideas for them are swirling around you if you keep your eyes and ears open,” he says.
Every year on his birthday till 2019, Bond used to spent time in the evening at his favourite bookstore, Cambridge in Mussoorie, with hundreds of children and adults and cut a cake. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there was no public function last year and there is none this time too.
Bond was born in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, and grew up in Jamnagar, Dehradun, New Delhi and Shimla. As a young man, he spent four years in the Channel Islands and London. He returned to India in 1955. He now lives in Landour, Mussoorie with his adopted family.
At the age of eight, Bond escaped his jail-like boarding school in the hills and went on to live with his father in Delhi. His time in the capital was filled with books, visits to the cinema, music, and walks and conversations with his father a dream life for a curious and wildly imaginative boy, which turns tragic all too soon. His first novel The Room on the Roof, written when he was 17, received the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then, Bond has written a number of novellas, essays, poems and children’s books. He has also written over 500 short stories and articles that have appeared in magazines and anthologies. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993, the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014.
(With inputs agencies)