Thursday, January 17, 2013


Title: The Stupendous TimeTelling Superdog
Author: Himanjali Sankar
Publisher: Duckbill Books
Pages: 139

Rousseau, named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the 18th century French philosopher, is a superdog. No, he doesn’t wear underwear and a cape, and he doesn’t save the world from crime.

But he does save the world from Timelessness, a catastrophe that the world is thrown into when all clocks, watches and timepieces come to a grinding halt.

Of course, dogs, as we all know, are already super creatures, thanks to their heightened sense of smell and hearing. But Rousseau, the family dog of Anya and Kaavya and their mother, Mrs Ghosh, is superior, even compared to other canines. He barks and wags and thumps his tail, all classic tricks in the repertoire of dogs, to tell time.

Other than that superpower, he lives an ordinary life with the Ghosh family, and does the pointless things that all dogs do, including knocking things and people down, chasing flies and digging holes in the ground.

That ordinariness changes when the Orange Marmaladies from the Black Hole of Time, the original timekeepers of the Universe, begin to fret over the fact that they have become invisible to humans. They decide to do something drastic so as to ensure that they are once again friends with humans. 

The drastic step that they take, unfortunately for them, does not have the desired effect. Instead of suddenly making them visible to humans, it stops all timekeeping devices on earth, including microwave ovens, computers, mobile phones and traffic lights, throwing the entire world into a state of extreme confusion.

Rousseau’s presence saves the Ghosh family from growing crazy. But can his superpower save the world from its state of timelessness? You will have to read the book to find out.

The Orange Marmaladies, by the way, are orange and friendly creatures. They are somewhat shapeless and fuzzy and have two bright eyes and mouths that love to talk. They love to sing and dance and strike funny poses and they like page 27 of every book in existence. They love fashion shows, and the Miss Universe pageant is their favourite. Of course, you mustn’t be misled by the name. Some of the Orange Marmaladies are gentlemen too.

The occasional second person conversational style works well in a children’s book, and Himanjali Sankar has used it to good effect here.

I also liked the nuggets of wisdom that Himanjali packed into this book. I’m sure they won’t fail to impress our children. While we are bound and governed by clocks today, and helpless without them, our ancestors told time just by looking at the sky above. What did they care for the minutes and seconds? And weren’t they happier for it? Similarly, why do we make such a to-do about mirrors? Do animals have any use for them? It is only we humans who set so much store by them, using them to criticise and demean ourselves in our own eyes.

Pooja Pottenkulam’s illustrations are adorable. She seems to have the happy knack for picking up the funniest lines from the book and translating them into a cartoon with her own happy touch. My favourite is the one on page 44.

Bonus points for the presentation of the book. The many tiny illustrations that pepper the book, besides the cute little paw prints that serve as a frame for the page numbers, all add to its charm.

My only grouse was that Himanjali has not given the subplot of the Orange Marmaladies a happy ending. I thought they had so much potential. If only she had given them a more substantial role in the unfolding drama, things would have got even more rollicking.

I also wish it would have been possible to see an Orange Marmalady, at least in an illustration. But of course, Pooja, being only human, would not know what they looked like. As they say, Alas!

Rousseau is an extremely lovable chap. And that is a big statement coming from me, considering that I am not a dog lover.

I’m sure the Orange Marmaladies liked page 27 of this book.

Not being an Orange Marmalady, I liked all 139 pages.

I received a copy of The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog for this review.



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