As a world-weary children’s editor, all too many of the manuscripts we receive are myths retold, moral lessons imparted, or Ram and Rita setting off for a summer holiday in their aunt’s house. (Don’t mistake me here–there are lovely books in at least the first and third of these categories.) So to receive a manuscript which began with a pumpkin talking of saving the universe was, least to say, unusual. And it was also unusual to be laughing really hard as one turned the pages–something which afflicted me even when I was matching the proofreader’s corrections many months later.
Indian children’s books need more of the improbable, the wacky and the totally silly, which this book has in abundant quantities. The story moves swiftly, and just when I thought I knew what would happen next, it would take another wild turn and gallop away in a new, hilarious direction.
Oops is a book which really stands out in the world it creates. It is that rare kind of book which truly transcends national boundaries. And in terms of Indian children’s books, truly outstanding because it is outrageous and amazing. The author has (in the nicest possible sense) a very strange mind, and what is delightful is that he allows it to wander freely rather than trapping it in conventional story scenarios.
We found it very difficult to identify a target age group for this book, which is something which I believe happens in the case of all very good books. When one has a talking pumpkin (sorry, Gurgle), the temptation is to classify it as a book for relatively young kids. But the humour works at so many different levels that this is truly a book which I believe adult readers (possessing a good sense of humour) will find equally appealing.
We are really glad that Oops landed up in our inbox!
It’s so rare to find a manuscript in the inbox that is mad, wacky and insanely inventive, and that makes you immediately want to commission it. I’ve been a Douglas Adams fan since the moment I read A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I’m extremely pleased that we’ve published a book that’s Hofstader-like in its exuberance and humour. We’ve been struggling to identify the reading age of the book, because whenever we decide on one range, we have kids/adults saying, ‘but we loved it too!’ It’s that kind of book – the best kind – it can be enjoyed by all ages. After all, it’s not every day you find a book about a mighty hero who is a pumpkin. Oops, I mean a Gurgle!