Croc Tales of Bhitarkanika is another story from the Urja series by Mala Kumar. These stories inspire young readers to think scientifically and live sustainably. This story is all about kindling the spirit of scientific enquiry in the young minds. It is set in the mangrove forests of Odisha, which inspire a group of school children to create a new device for their science project. The author seems to have a penchant for mystery, and it shows in her stories. The protagonist of the story is a class X student, Sanjana, who is deeply interested in science and is fondly called ‘Scientist Rani’ by her friends. Sanjana and her family have just moved from Bangalore to Kendrapara in Odisha, very close to the mangrove forests and the Bay of Bengal. She and two of her classmates are working hard on a model for a State-level, inter-school science contest. They have a working model ready but Sanjana feels something is missing. Then comes their school trip to the mangrove forests where they meet Bimal Da, their boat guide who explains all about the mangrove forests and their ecological importance. They also come to know that Bimal Da has lost one of his legs in a close encounter with a nesting crocodile, while trying to save his son from its clutches. Still he chooses to continue spreading awareness and protecting the biodiversity of the land. This inspires Sanjana and the trip also becomes a turning point when the mangrove forests give her an idea to improve their design and complete the missing part of their science project. They win and Sanjana is chosen to represent the team at the regional science fair to be held in Assam. Looking forward to her further adventures in Assam! Lots of information has been weaved into the story that will pique the interest of the children and inspire them to learn and understand more. Sonal Goyal’s illustrations beautifully depict the mangrove forests and add colour to the story. The RECHARGE sheets have additional information about solar and wind energy and energy efficient buildings. Definitely a good read for middle schoolers.
Subhashini is a translator with Pratham books and a voice over artist. She is interested in children’s literature and enjoys a well written children’s book anytime.