Genre: Children, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Humour
Ages: 5 to 10 years (Highest level of the younger reader books from Duckbill)
Buy From amazon India
Price: Rs 148 on amazon. M. R. P. is Rs 199 as printed on book
Shah Jahan And The Ruby Robber from the History Mystery Series by Natasha Sharma, is an amusing and engaging story for early readers.
The story begins with an excited Shah Jahan, eager to try out his new enormous, expensive, bejeweled throne. All dressed for the special occasion, Shah Jahan, is welcomed in to the throne room, with the appropriate royal fanfare. After seating himself on the throne, Shah Jahan makes a short speech, and rewards the head goldsmith who supervised the making of the throne. Then, as he relaxes and admires the jewels on the throne, he notices, that the great Timur Ruby, the biggest, deepest red, jewel of the Mughal treasury has been replaced a big, round, red, squishy plum.
Shah Jahan is busy with supervising the construction of the Taj Mahal. But the Ruby must be found as soon as possible. So he leaves his trusted oldest daughter Jahanara in charge of finding it.
Shah Jahan’s seven children, Dara, Shuja, Aurangzeb, Murad, Jahanara, Roshanara and baby Gauharara team up, calling themselves the Smashing Seven, and formulate a plan to search for the Ruby. Dara goes on an undercover mission to investigate the workers on the building site of the Taj Mahal, while Roshanara, Jahanara and Murad come up with an ingenious plan to search the ladies of the zenana without their knowledge. Aurangzeb, who despises poets and artists, decides to question them.
Shah Jahan wants an answer by sun down so they all have to hurry. Will the Smashing Seven find the Ruby? Who could have dared to steal from the Mughal Emperor, himself? What punishment will the robber face? Read on to find out.
The story is dramatic, funny and intriguing. I loved how Begam Sahib refers to herself in third person, and how much that annoys Roshanara. Shah Shuja’s sleepy sleepy personality and Aurangzeb’s scheming are entertaining too.
Lots of historical and architectural facts are seamlessly woven into a fun filled fictional story. For example, when Dara is investigating the workers at the building site of the Taj Mahal, a description of its location and construction details are built in to the story. The Peacock Throne, Agra fort and the bazaar are also well described. Some important dates and famous people are included in the story. There is a chapter after the story where, Natasha clarifies, which parts of the story are fact, and which parts are fiction.
Shah Jahan’s kids are in charge of solving the mystery, which is exciting for children. When I was a kid, my favorite books were the Enid Blyton Mystery series, because kids wore disguises, and came up with plans to question and outwit grownups. This story has a similar flavor to it, though being Royal kids, it is easier for them.
The older kids all have vivid exaggerated personalities, that vaguely match their known personalities from historical records. The story hints at an alliance between Aurangzeb and Roshanara which, in fact, did eventually exist, for sometime.
There are some lovely illustrations by Lavanya Naidu including some full page ones. I particularly liked the caricatures of Aurangzeb.
I learned that the long royal tunic is called a qaba.
In the book, Shah Jahan, was referred to as Padshah, a term, I was not familiar with. Initially, I thought it was a typo for the word Badshah, but it has been used consistently throughout the book. So I looked it up on Wikipedia and found out, that Padshah is a Turkish superlative royal title of Persian origin, while Badshah is the Arabic version.
My 5 year old daughter could not read this on her own, but she loved the story when I read it to her. She was able to follow the plot and enjoyed the humour.
A delicious royal plum mystery
Duckbill sent me this book for an honest review.
Thanks PlusMinus’N’More, for everything I learned from you about reviewing books.