The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond
I have a confession to make: I haven’t read much of Ruskin Bond’s work.
I remember reading something or other by him when I was a kid, but I don’t even recall what exactly I read!
My childhood was defined more by the fascinating short novels of Enid Blyton than any other author. And I credit her for my now excellent (if I do say so myself) English.
Lots of people on bookstagram rave about him, so I thought I’d give him a chance now…and the book I’d heard about most was The Blue Umbrella, so that’s the one I bought!
I’d known it was short and that it was a children’s book, but it still surprised me, how small it was. It was an odd feeling, to be honest…looking at such a small children’s book after so long.
It’s been too long since I read one of those (apart from Coraline, of course, which, incidentally, I read on the same day as this one).
And I don’t even know when I last read a picture book. I don’t even remember reading any of those at all! The first book I recall reading is actually one of Enid Blyton’s mystery novels…it had illustrations, sure, but it wasn’t a picture book!
But I digress.
I was a little sceptical about picking up a kids’ picture book when I’m neither a kid nor a parent, but I had it with me now and it was tiny anyway, so I figured, why not?
Reading the book was…a different experience.
I can’t say it transported me back to my childhood because I literally don’t remember reading picture books as a child.
But it wasn’t exactly as childish as I thought it would be either…
The Blue Umbrella is a simple story for sure…about a little girl Binya of Garhwal and her beautiful blue umbrella. That umbrella is the prettiest in her small village and everyone envies her for it, especially the local shopkeeper, old Ram Bharosa. The story captures a tiny snapshot of life in the village and all the relationships between the people there.
Despite being a short children’s story, it centres around themes of greed, envy and redemption.
The book surprised me.
I remember some of the short children’s stories that I was told as a kid. All of them had morals, and if I listen to any of them now, I would probably find them juvenile and silly.
But somehow, I didn’t feel that way about The Blue Umbrella at all!
The story had me captivated till the end. I wanted to know what happened to Binya and the shopkeeper. I was curious about the pretty umbrella and where it would end up. I was fascinated by the sweet little snippet of village life that I glimpsed through the author’s eyes.
Don’t get me wrong; it has all the ingredients of an excellent children’s story: vivid pictures, short, simple words, not too much nuance, and probably most importantly, a moral.
But even though it was so simple and short, the writing was interesting enough that I really liked the book!
Bottom line, I recommend this book to everyone, young and old alike.
Read it when you’re getting over a heavy book that made you cry, or when you want to get out of a reading slump. Or you can even read it when you’re simply just bored and you’re looking for something short and sweet.