Shah Jahan and the Ruby Robber by Natasha Sharma is a part of the History Mystery series published by Duckbill. Young Indian readers often see history as a fact-based subject learned in school. They see it as a chronology of events. However, the History Mystery series responsibly juggles storytelling and history.
The book starts off with emperor Shah Jahan waiting to try out his new jewelled throne that has taken seven long years to make. It is a grand throne that displays all the jewels and precious stones that speak of the glory of the Mughal empire. But, wait! The jewel of the throne… that is to say, the star and the pinnacle of the multifarious jewels, the great Timur Ruby is missing! What’s worse, there is a squishy squashy plum in its place!
Moments after the emperor discovers this great mistake there ensues a lot of confusion. A hilarious sequence of events follow. Shah Jahan places his daughter Jahanara in charge of finding out who the thief was. Of course, his brood of seven, including the famed Aurangzeb who is shown as quite the angry young man here, must take up the challenge collectively.
The banter between Shah Jahan’s seven children as they go about searching for the Timur Ruby amakes for great reading. Is the quest for the missing Ruby successful? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out! All we can say is that the surprising end will leave you quite satisfied on reading a tale well written. And yes, history will never be the same again.
The entire play of events takes place as the plans for the construction of the Taj Mahal are going on. This context itself adds an element of fascination to the story. The simple and surprising twist in the end shows the ingenuity of the author. It proves that if one looks carefully, history has great stories to tell!
There is a lot of subtle humour in the language, which makes it funny to read and is sure to elicit some heartfelt smiles and giggles! Consider the following line:
For before him stood the greatest, the grandest, the most glorious throne in the whole world -his brand new Jewelled Throne. There it stood, awaiting Shah Jahan’s bottom for the very first time.
The genre of historical fiction for children is a relatively undeveloped one when it comes to Indian literature for young readers. However, with Shah Jahan and the Ruby Robber, Natasha Sharma once again merges history and fiction to tell an appealing tale.
Shah Jahan and the Ruby Robber
Author: Natasha Sharma
illustrated by Lavanya Naidu
Published by Duckbill Books and Publications Pvt Ltd.