Book Review: Across the Seven Seas

The book narrative isn’t interesting enough, but it may hold appeal as a history book, says our preteen reviewer Aditi Amritesh.

The book narrative isn’t interesting enough, but it may hold appeal as a history book, says our preteen reviewer Aditi Amritesh.

Across The Seven Seas: Indian Travellers’ Tales from the Past, by Anuradha Kumar and published by Hachette India, is one of those rare books that didn’t quite appeal to me at all. The short, kids’-novel style of the book made me think I was in for an interesting read by a new-age author with remarkable storytelling skills. However, I found the presentation of this book rather bland and monotonous, not far from a history textbook. The author’s choice of historical tales included in this book are okay, but only a few of the stories really appealed to me, not because they’re well-told, but because their original storylines are nice. The author’s style of retelling these tales, however, did not interest me.

This book might be misjudged as an interesting travel account, but it’s just a compilation of historical facts. There is detailed description only in very few instances.

One story which caught my interest was that of The Shampooing Surgeon, because it was an unusual tale. The story was described quite well and gave me an interesting account of bathhouses and how they worked in Britain.

There is no obvious moral or lesson in the book; maybe kids can learn how to be brave by reading about the adventures some explorers had. However, this book would be a good resource for an English lesson, for analysing the writing quality, story buildup and other literary aspects of the book. It might also be a useful resource for creative History teachers who’d like to bring in a bit of an English language aspect into their teaching (however, when sharing the book with a class, teachers should pick out only the interesting and unique stories from the book).

In my opinion, Across the Seven Seas would make for a better textbook than a casual read. Most History textbooks aren’t very interesting and easily bore students but this book could work as a good alternative for a curriculum such as CBSE.

I would recommend this book to a 9+ years age group audience who can tarry through a plain narrative. The book is unlikely to spark any spontaneous conversations (at best, it could inspire a travel expedition!).

As obvious from my views here, Across the Seven Seas by Anuradha Kumar did not keep me engaged. It took me a long time and lots of breaks just to get over with the book. Though this author has written other books, her writing really isn’t working in this genre. I was saddened by the lack of quality storytelling. In short, this book was much less than expected and quite disappointing.

Overall Rating: 2.5 stars

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  • A well written critique. Love the restraint exercised by our young reviewer.
    The demerits which in the reviewers opinion seem to be many have been carefully balanced with appreciation where deserved.
    All in all a piece that definitely leads the reader to a READ / DON’T READ decision regarding the book.
    Keep reading Aditi and keep penning your reviews. God bless you!

  • I have just read this book and am surprised at the confusion created by this review. The reviewer is trying to say too many things, trying hard not to say good things but its as if she is determined to give a so-so review.
    So its a nonfiction book, so obviously not a novel. Yet its well-written and can be considered an alternative to classroom textbooks.
    I went back to the original texts and realized they were written in quite an old-fashioned style. So obviously the author has retold them to suit today’s tastes.
    Then the reviewer ends by saying she couldn’t read it at one go. She also, I notice, in another review says the same thing (Roopa Pai’s The Gita), and yet the other book gets a five-star for the same criterion.
    Dont give a so-so review for the sake of it; you unintentionally show your bias.

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