Book Review: The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog
By Shivani Shah
The Orange Marmaladies from the Black Hole of Time are upset.
As the Original Timekeepers of the Universe, they have existed for thousands of years and used to enjoy a warm relationship with humans. But when humans built the first clock (a.k.a. the sundial), the Orange Marmaladies became invisible. In their quest to become visible again and restore their friendship with humans, they stop all timepieces on Earth from working.
The result is chaos: Trains are cancelled, flights are delayed, and traffic lights stop working. No one knows what the time is – except for the members of one family. Life goes on as usual in the Ghosh house, as Anya, Kaavya, and Mrs. Ghosh stopped looking at the clocks in their home long ago. Who needs clocks when you have Rousseau, their lovable (if slightly batty) dog who can tell time? When word gets out about Rousseau’s ability, he becomes an instant celebrity, and the world turns to Rousseau to save them from their timeless pandemonium.
The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog is a commentary on human behaviour masquerading as a story for kids, which makes it all the more enjoyable. We live with the false notion that we control our lives, but author Himanjali Sankar suggests that what controls our lives is, in fact, time: We wake up because the alarm goes off instead of when we’re rested enough to face the day without coffee; we live by the strike of the clock – to jump on trains, to fit in meetings and doctor’s appointments – that controls our actions. A story that makes adults stop and think about their own lives is something of a rarity, but The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog does just that, showing us that our obsession with time is downright silly. As Mrs. Ghosh says, “The worst affected is Sonia, because according to her diet chart, she is supposed to eat every two hours, and if she cannot do that, her life loses all meaning.”
While adults ponder over how not to be slaves to the ticking clock, children aged 8 and older will enjoy this story for kids in which the implausible is reality. Rousseau’s antics are delightful, and the Ghoshs’ loyalty to their canine, admirable. Sankar tells a story about a serious issue with humour and ease that is perfect for kids to understand. Pooja Pottenkulam’s illustrations add to the charm of Rousseau’s story and make this quirky dog come alive on the page. And maybe, just maybe, for the hour or two it takes to read this book, kids and parents alike can enjoy it without worrying about time and commitments. After all — isn’t that what reading a good book is all about?