Both books talk about renewable energy. The main characters in both stories are school going siblings Puhor and his elder sister Ushmi, and the stories take place in Kuwaritol, Assam. Books evokes sentiments akin to Ruskin Bond stories, aptly capturing the nuances and beauty of the remote locale and scenic Kaziranga jungle. It also captures the travails and simple joys of the people living in such villages.
Jonaki Dreams, (jonaki being the Assamese word for fireflies) is a beautiful story about Puhor, who is a budding inventor and who always thinks outside the box. Due to his father’s influence, Puhor is handy with tools and enjoys creating many things one of which is a stationary cycle which when pedalled gives light or can run small electric appliances. As the story goes, a science fair was to be held at Sonitpur District school where students from all over India were to come and share stories about renewable energy and also see the display of Suraj Enterprise’s brand new solar lamps. En route to this fair, while cycling in the dark forest with his sister, Puhor thinks of a unique idea where ‘Jonakis’ could be collected and kept in jonaki houses inside each street lamp which will eliminate the need for electricity! At the fair, Ushmi wins a surprise competition, a naming contest, when she suggests the name ‘Jonaki’ for the newly launched solar lamps. The kids receive a solar lamp with its own solar battery charger as a prize. Post this, the children and villagers rush to the open air cinema to watch a new Assamese movie and to meet the VIP celebrity Labita who was a renowned Assamese heroine. However, when the electricity as well as the generators fail to work, Puhor, with the help of twenty young boys and girls ride his power generating cycles to keep the cinema projector and fans running, thus saving face for the theatre owner and saving the day for everybody else.
Blowing in the Wind talks about harnessing wind energy. The story weaves around the two children who while visiting the river island get caught in a flood and have to take shelter with some monks in their monastery known as Kamalabari Satra. Due to the floods, for two whole days the children who are residents of the Satra as well as those who had taken shelter in the Satra, face various challenges. There is no electricity, drinking water is contaminated, health of some of the children deteriorates and due to lack of diesel no ferries can ply, so no medical supply or assistance is possible. Both Puhor and Ushmi return with a ferry on the third day full of children who needed to be shifted to a bigger hospital in Kuwaritol. The ferry is the life line for the island situated on the Brahmaputra river which gets flooded very often, and Puhor feels something must be done to ensure this lifeline does not get hindered for any reason. After spending seven days researching and drawing different plans, he comes up with an idea which also includes help from the Chief Engineer at the Suraj Solar Park Company. He starts interacting with various boatmen, keenly watches every aspect of constructing and repairing boats and in the process wins over Khura, an old and well respected boat builder on that island. With the help of other adults, the boatmen, especially Khura, Puhor spearheads the creation of a streamlined catamaran that runs with the help of sturdy sails fitted with super thin flexible solar panels, hydro power generator on the propellers and specialized solar batteries and chargers. Thus is created the wind-cum-hydro-cum-solar-river-ambulance!
Both stories manage to keep the story simple but the latter story feels unnecessarily convoluted. Neither story goes into too much depth of how the various energies were harnessed. The two books are more for children in middle school and above.
Yamuna is a legal consultant and has been practicing law for more than 15 years. She is also an avid book reader and does not discriminate on any subject material as long as it catches her interest.