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The Train to Tanjore (Series: Songs of Freedom) Paperback – Import, 15 August 2022

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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From the Publisher

The Train to Tanjore by Devika Rangachari from the Songs of Freedom series
The Train to Tanjore by Devika Rangachari from the Songs of Freedom series

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About the Author

Dr Devika Rangachari is an award-winning children's writer whose book, Queen of Ice, was on the White Raven list, won the Neev Young Adult Book Award and has been optioned to be made into a movie/ television series. She is also a historian who has conducted post-doctoral research on gender in early medieval Indian history. Devika is inordinately fond of reading (especially historical fiction), chocolates, potatoes, and exploring bookshops and libraries. She would happily spend her time among her four loves were it not for her lovely-but-stern editors who occasionally compel her to write.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Duckbill (15 August 2022); Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 112 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0143457640
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0143457640
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10 - 12 years
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 91 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 20.3 x 25.4 x 4.7 cm
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ India
  • Net Quantity ‏ : ‎ 1 Piece
  • Importer ‏ : ‎ Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Packer ‏ : ‎ Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Generic Name ‏ : ‎ Book
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 28 September 2022
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 29 August 2022
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4.0 out of 5 stars Outlines the important events that took their course during the Quit India Movement
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 29 August 2022
Thambi desired to taste the special onion Sambar, a speciality of The New Madras Hotel. His uncle Periyappa, an orthodox Tamil Brahmin caught Thambi near the hotel and admonished him severely for his attempt to inhale the smell of onions and garlic. Thambi had it when Periyappa complained about the sorry state of his humble abode when he resolved to earn enough money so that he would give his family, the life they deserved. He saw a chief engineer being escorted to the library building with great honour and respect. Thambi saw a purpose and vowed to be a chief engineer.

On his 10th birthday, Thambi came to know the state of world affairs while skimming through a newspaper section in the library. The phrase that was ingrained in his mind was 'Quit India'. The more he read about the movement, the more he was fuelled by his curiosity.The Quit India Movement slowly gains prominence in Thanjavur with people shouting slogans, holding meetings and organizing protest marches. Thambi constantly wondered what would happen if the British people left India and worried whether the Japanese would take control.

It was the year 1940 when India's future was uncertain. Due to the advent of World War 2, India could fall into the hands of any country. The newspaper refrained from reporting the facts as it was controlled by the British. Paying a visit to the cinema hall was a luxury and asking questions about the freedom struggle meant caning for the children.

Thambi was inquisitive and rebellious in nature. Gundu was indifferent. Sumit Bose was constantly scared about his safety. Through their characters, the author portrays how children reacted in different ways to the invasion of the British empire.

Songs of Freedom series outlines the important events that took their course in the freedom movement of India. We may have learnt about a handful of freedom fighters, but what our classrooms didn't teach us was how small acts of children were instrumental in throwing out the British from India. The key historical facts mentioned in the book were the air attacks carried out by the Japanese and the launch of the Quit India movement on 8th August 1942. The movement lost steam because of a lack of leadership.

Devika has condensed her father's boyhood memories into a delightful part fiction, part non-fiction book. The effects of the British invasion and the Quit India movement in Southern India were toned down to make it suitable for young readers to understand the repercussions of war.
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 18 August 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book on freedom, both collective and individual
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 18 August 2022
Thambi, the 12 yr old protagonist, lives with his parents and little sister in Thanjavur. The tempting aroma of onion sambar from New Madras Hotel, library visits are little things that excite his mostly quiet life which gets a distasteful jolt once every fortnight with his Periappa’s (father’s elder brother) visit. Periappa’s appetite, for food and fault-finding, is ravenous. But Amma’s coconut ladoos, Velu Anna’s (the tenant farmer who tills their rice fields) sketches, friends and teachers who adore him at school, his dream to become an engineer help offset Periappa’s bitterness. 

When the Quit India resolution is passed, ripples of large-scale anti-British protests are felt in Thanjavur too. A secret press prints leaflets on atrocities commited by the British. Normal life is stalled as protests are marred by violence. The Manargudi railway station is burnt down and public property vandalized in Thanjavur. The police, keen on tracking down the miscreants, appear at Thambi’s doorstep. 

With the Japanese troops closing in on the Indian east coast, Britain engaged with full might in war, the clamor for Indian independence growing louder despite the brutal crackdown by the British, can Thambi hope to become an engineer in a free country? 

Taking us back to 1940s when newspapers were displayed/read in racks in libraries, when people crowded around a single radio to listen to BBC news, when eating in hotels was strictly prohibited in most families, this book offers a lovely glimpse into bygone times when the best birthday treat was a meal of rice, sambar, potato curry and semiya payasam made by one's mother. 

Broadly based on the author's father’s memories of his boyhood in Thanjavur, grounded in facts, The Train to Tanjore by Devika Rangachari is a slim, well-written book that not only looks at the Indian independence struggle, effects of WWII but emphasizes upon the importance of freedom of speech and expression, the liberty to dream and defy enslaving authority from a child’s POV.  

A brilliant addition to the ‘Songs of Freedom’ series that explores lives of children across India during independence struggle.
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