ABOUT THE BOOKKalam is the cleverest little boy in his school, perhaps even his town, Rameswaram. He is annoyingly curious, full of crazy ideas and up to mad inventions. Everyone around him and all his classmates think he is bonkers, weird and best avoided – all except for his dad, two best friends and Professor Ramachandran, the science teacher in whose little laboratory he tests out all his inventions. But when the school’s most horrid teacher, Punnakai, spreads lies about the professor’s experiments and plots to throw Kalam out for his latest creation, the two have to find a way to fight back.
- The Adventures of Young Kalam is a fictionalised account of the childhood of the late Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The book narrates a fictional episode from his life as a school-going youngster that is centred around a long-standing animosity between him and his class teacher Punnakai. Kalam, his friends and his favourite teacher Professor Ramachandran use their sense of humour and their skill with inventing things to oust Punnakai. As a story that revolves around life in small-town Tamil Nadu, and deals specifically with school children, The Adventures of Young Kalam is vaguely reminiscent of R.K Narayan’s Swami stories.
- The adventure aspect of the story will doubtless appeal to readers who are taking their first steps into the world of chapter books. The story has an even, easy pace that will keep readers going from episode to episode.
- The book highlights the ways in which Kalam was different from the other children around him – his interest in physics and his penchant for inventing things – and encourages readers to accept the differences within themselves and continue to do the things they love to do. By basing itself on the life of a well-loved and highly-respected public figure, the story suggests to young readers that they all contain the seeds of greatness.
- As a book that is centred around the life of a real historical and public figure, it is somewhat confusing – did any of these events actually take place? How many of the characters described are real people? Many of these doubts could have been clarified if the author had written a preface or added a note to readers. This would give children a better sense of how much of the book is based on facts, and how much is the author’s imagination.
- It is unclear why the writer chose to make the story specifically about Kalam, especially since many events do appear to be wholly fictionalised, and do not connect back to the real trajectory of his life. The story could just as well have been about any child with a flair for science.
- Some instances of humour in the book are in poor taste. For instance, when Kalam and his friends plot to prank Punnakai, they choose to do it by torturing her cat. It seems unnecessary to use an animal as the butt of a joke, and to give readers the impression that it is funny to watch another creature suffering.