When the tank in Ranj’s village dries up, she sets out on a mission to find the missing water. Join Detective Ranj on the case.


  • The Case of the Missing Water is set in a village where all the water has dried up. Ranj has to brush her teeth in muddy water, and her ajji (grandmother) is praying for rain. Families are leaving the village, and school is empty and boring without her friends. Sick of it all, Ranj decides to try and find out what happened to all the water. This is a story underpinned by the grim realities of drought and the water economy, but told with a sharp eye for humour and adventure.
  • The book introduces readers to the circumstances of those who live in drought-afflicted areas, and gives them a sense of what it is like to live with a dire shortage of resources that we otherwise take for granted. This will be a particularly eye-opening read for the young urban reader.
  • For children who do know what it is like to live with water shortages, it digs deeper into the question of why these resources dry up – the book explains that it is not only a question of the weather, but also of how water is divided. Ranj finds that the water from near her village is being dammed and taken in tankers to the city. It encourages readers to think about the equitable division of resources. To whom does a vital natural resource like water belong to, after all?
  • The illustrations are wonderful and add both depth and humour to the story. The fine detailing and use of a muted colour palette evoke the landscape of the drought brilliantly. The movements of characters are portrayed with nuance and ease, and they feel like they could easily belong in the panels of a graphic novel.
  • The back of the book includes a helpful selection of water-related vocabulary words for children to learn from.
  • The story ends somewhat abruptly. Just as Ranj and her friend Sapna are in the middle of a heated confrontation with the tanker driver, it begins to rain, and he drives away. While it is impossible to resolve the question of why the village water is being taken away to the city, the end of the book seems to distract completely from this issue by bringing in an external solution – the rain.


The Case of the Missing Water is an interesting and engaging foray into the complex politics of water for young readers.


Author: Shalini Srinivasan
Illustrator: Upamanyu Bhattacharyya
Language: English
Page Extent: 28 pages
Price: Rs 50
ISBN: 978-93-5309-364-8
Publisher: Pratham Books, 2019
Subject Category: Fiction/Picture Book/ Water/Drought/ Mystery
Age-group: 7+

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