It was a no brainer that a Bollywood buff and a former entertainment journalist and movie reviewer like me will be eager to get her hands on actor Jugal Hansraj’s debut work, Cross Connection published by Rupa Publications. And that’s what I did! Albeit I was sent a copy of the book by Rupa Publications for review.

The book is a childrens novel or story book if you will, that revolves around the life of circus animals. The Great Indian Circus is a very homey circus. The owner, Mr. Gulshan is an animal lover who cares for his beasts as if they were his own children. There are those domesticated few who are affectionate and there are those who are locked up in a cage for their life threatening crimes. Chunky, the monkey and Bhole Ram, the elephant are often at loggerhead because Chunky, the dude won’t stop pulling silly pranks on his friends. But the fate has it that the two encounter a curious incident wherein their souls switch. It is because of this switch that the circus life is about to turn topsy. However, the two join hands to bring down the miscreants and save the day.

Now while it looks like a simple story what matters are the storytelling skills. Hansraj proficiently pens this simple yet confusing and equally entertaining tale of the domesticated animals. To top it, he adds romance element too.

Having a filmy background it came as a no surprise that the switch was peculiar Bollywood-esque. However, to bring it forth with unexpected twists and in an utterly funny manner is what stole the show for me. The writing is very crisp and lucid which will make it a hit amongst the children.

Taking about the characters – Jenny and Chunky, the monkeys, the royal Bengal tiger, Pintu dada, Bhole Ram and Savitri, the elephants, Uncle Geri, the blue bird, Chintamani, the king of beasts, Lion, or the evil panthers, Kaalia and Charlie – might not be too many but Hansraj has done a clean job of weaving the story with precision keeping these in the loop. The character traits are such that these animals are sure to be a part of the bed time stories for my daughter.

And being a mother of a teeny tot, I know for sure that the illustrations will definitely attract the young/budding readers. I have had difficulty reading the story solely because my one-year-old wouldn’t want to leave the book. She was flipping through the pages or snatching it from my hand as soon as she spotted the book. We have to give it up to the illustrator, Shrirang Sathaye, for his praiseworthy work.

Jugal Hansraj might have had a short lived stint in the glamour world but his debut in childrens literature is sure to take him a long way.

I would rate it a 3.5 stars. It earns 8 on 10 on the scale of readability.

Publishers: Rupa Publication
Available on: Amazon, Flipkart, Crossword

Which is your favorite childrens book? Recommendations welcome. 😊