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  Books   08 Jul 2023  Book Review | What pooped on my step and other whodunits

Book Review | What pooped on my step and other whodunits

THE ASIAN AGE. | MALATI MATHUR
Published : Jul 9, 2023, 12:15 am IST
Updated : Jul 9, 2023, 12:15 am IST

This is a book that would be anagreeable gift for young daughters and sons or nieces and nephews.

Cover photo of 'The Great Poop War' by Ranjit Lal. (Photo by arrangement)
 Cover photo of 'The Great Poop War' by Ranjit Lal. (Photo by arrangement)

The slim book is a whodunnit for children (and adults who are children) and the title is sure to catch their attention, given their notorious fascination with all things to do with the backside of the human (and beastly) anatomy!  Set in a Delhi residential society – Sparkling Apartments -the denizens of which have deliciously evocative names like Shri Gangajal, Shrimati Golgappadas, Shri Billiram, Ghoos (and Chhota Ghoos, his son) as do their pet dogs and cats (Doo-Doo the Doberman, Soo-Soo-Sussi the highly pedigreed Siamese, Poo-Poo the pure bred Persian, Bug Eyes the pug, Bada Naak the basset hound…), the action is centred around the mysterious appearance of a fresh, steamimg pile of turd in the dazzlingly clean environs of the society and the unravelling of the identity of the perpetrator.  Was it one of the pet dogs, perhaps a stray, or maybe one of the sophisticated felines that lorded it over all the commoners or yet again, one of the mangy cats of the neighbourhood wandering in to do their business in the dead of night?

With the society in an uproar, cat owners and dog owners (or should one say dog parent and cat parent in these ‘woke’ times?) hurl allegations against each others’ pets and the threat of banishment hangs heavy on all the animals’ heads.  A couple of teens, Parvati and Bharat – tired of the adult fracas and noisy accusations, decide to stand vigil all night, but to no avail.  The cats and dogs too, form teams to prowl around the premises at night and catch the offender in the deed but come up clueless as the cheeky intruder(s) merrily continue to dot the area with their smelly offerings.  The cleanliness award is snatched away from the society, there is all out war between the dogs and cats as with their owners and, to top it all, Ghoos proposes to transfer the animals to the ‘shelter’ next door where he conducts experiments of a highly questionable nature.

How the mystery is untangled amid the sweet innocence of a nascent romance between Bharat and Parvati; how, when the chips are down, unity is all that matters; and how, at the end of it all, the dastardly intentions of a few are thwarted, urges the reader to keep turning the pages swiftly. Along the way, there are subtle and (some not so subtle) messages about harmony, the need to put aside differences when one’s very existence is at stake (applicable to not just species but to inter-faith rivalries as well);fake news and rumour mongering;cruelty and the realities of the torture of testing various drugs and cosmetics on animals; a look at the horrific consequences of biological, genetic tweaking and a few tongue-in-cheek digs at political posturing and correctness.  With great good humour and a robust sense of fun, the author manages to tell a story and yet impart a few lessons that adults too would do well to pay heed to.

This is a book that would be anagreeable gift for young daughters and sons or nieces and nephews, and would work nicely to be read out to little ones not old enough to read very well for themselves too, and who would be sure to giggle in delight at the alliterative names and shenanigans of thecreatureswho romp breezily through the pages, quirkily illustrated by Ambika Karandikar.

The Great Poop War

By Ranjit Lal

Red Panda,

pp. 130; Rs. 275

 

Tags: book review, pet dogs, childrens books