ABOUT THE BOOKShah Jahan, the Great Mughal Emperor, is hopping mad. Someone has replaced the precious Timur Ruby on his new throne with a … plum! What’s worse, plums are suddenly turning up everywhere. Who can help the emperor solve this mystery?
- Part of Duckbill’s History-Mystery series, this book, like the other ones in the series, blends history and story together in an imaginative way.
- Since the book is aimed at younger readers, the length, the chapterisation, the sentence structure, the use of repetition (such as in the opening lines: “A great Mughal king must not hop. He must not skip. He must not high-five.”) – all these elements work very well.
- Unlike the first couple of books in the History-Mystery series, such as Akbar and the Tricky Traitor and Ashoka and the Muddled Messages, which are not well-grounded in history and present the reader with two-dimensional cardboard characters, Shahjahan and the Ruby Robber evokes the period in which it is set much better and offers us glimpses into the eccentricities of some of the characters.
- Having Shahjahan’s children solve the mystery for him is a very good idea. It serves as a reminder that history is made not merely by famous folks, powerful people and other adults, but also by children, and even a little toddler. Young readers are likely to appreciate this inclusion.
- Natasha Sharma researches exhaustively and writes well but is not always able to integrate her research into the story or plot the intrigues and conspiracies convincingly.
- Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest son, is presented rather shabbily in the story. Why on earth would he suddenly utter the words, “As the great poets say: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”? Not only is this anachronistic, it in no way adds to the story or to the character.
- Considering that Shahjahan’s court was fabulously wealthy and magnificent, one wishes that the illustrations had been in colour so that they could have evoked the splendour and grandeur.