Thursday, March 18, 2010

REVIEW: Mr Oliver's Diary

Mr Oliver's Diary
Ruskin Bond
Penguin India
Rs 150
Pp 128 with 15 b/w illustrations


Mr Oliver, a history teacher, arrives in Simla with a train-load of hungry boys to start a new term at the Prep School. As he records the antics of the amazing characters there, and all that they get up to, we quickly realize that there is never a dull moment. A fire, a missing Headmaster, runaway students make sure not a day goes by when Mr Oliver has nothing to report in his diary. He writes about the eccentric teachers, the girls’ school next door and the lovely Anjali Ramola, whom he secretly admires.

Laugh-out-loud funny, with a core of old-world charm that is trademark Bond, Mr Oliver’s Diary has stories and characters that have never appeared anywhere before. With his runaway wig, pet shrew and endearing dry wit, Mr Oliver is sure to become as well-loved as those other vintage Ruskin Bond characters, Uncle Ken and Rusty.


Hindustan Times
What, you wonder, can be new in the story of a not-yet-40, bald and a bit lonely teacher at prep school, replete with the antics of juvenile boys, a parrot that screeches "bottoms up", frolicking frogs and a violin-playing headmaster?

But Ruskin Bond, who has more than 30 children's books to his credit, uses all the old tricks to make Christopher Oliver a funny and loveable little hero in the hills of Simla.

As a new term begins, our Olly, with his big nose, is not quite the dashing bachelor who evokes instant admiration. He wears a wig that amuses the boys no end - one day they send a barber to his door! Without it he is even declared "topless" by Anjali Ramola, the pretty colleague he is not-so-secretly in love with.
There are, of course, no secrets between the reader and Olly, as he pours his heart out in his diary. "Such a pity caning has been banned," he muses one day.

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