Tanaji & The Treasure Trail

Shweta Singh posted under Book Review on 2023-06-21

Tanaji & The Treasure Trail by Shraddha Sahi is a refreshing read not just for kids but even adults. Set in 1669-70 it is the story of a young girl living her life with her family & friends and also challenging the societal norms in the course of a regular day along with solving the mystery of the one-eyed man.  The best thing about the book is that each page is packed with either laughter, fun, bravery, or tragedy. There is enough description to immerse you in the atmosphere but not enough to bore you. The book moves at a good pace and you are not forced to read over words and paras in order to skip them. The other good thing is the simple language and the smooth narration. The printing and font size is good and all of these make the book very readable and can be enjoyed by kids beginning to read chapter books. It will also give them a glimpse into life as it was in that era.  The book opens with an action scene. The small village of Naikwadi is about to be raided by Mughal soldiers and Prajakta Naik our protagonist runs to warn the villagers of the impending doom. She is introduced as a fearless girl of action who thinks on her feet. She is unlike the other girls in the village and hence she doesn’t get along with them and sticks around with her younger brother Sarjya’s friends Ganya and Sopan. Ganya short for Ganesh is a truly colorful character who is fun to be around and Sopan is the serious budding poet whose verses act as a balm during troubled times.  The pack is like the Indian famous five complete with a little dog named Kaloo and later a very interesting animal, a ghorpad also joins them. After the raid, the Naik’s realise their family heirloom, a necklace has been looted along with whatever the soldiers could get their hands on, and what they couldn’t or didn’t carry, they destroyed.  This sets the background of the story. As it progresses, the necklace is recovered, but Sarjya is kidnapped. Tanaji comes to take charge and people are awed by the magnificence of this warrior. He inspires confidence and loyalty and bravery. He praises the kids and sees something special in them.   The story swiftly moves to the outskirts of Kondana fort once a Maratha stronghold and their pride and joy and a nearly impregnable fort. But unfortunately, now under the control of the Mughals, causing much anguish to Shivaji Raje and Jija Bai and their subjects. Then a daring plan is hatched to recapture this fort. How does Prajakta fit into all this? Are the fiercely brave Mavalas’ able to regain control of the fort? What is Shivaji’s response to this action? To know read the book.  Also, what is interesting is Prajakta’s character, who unwittingly becomes a beacon of feminism in those days. Nowhere has the writer expressed this overtly, but has beautifully built it in the narrative. There is an instance where she thinks all women of the village should have a weapon and know some amount of self-defence. But the men in the village object to it. And she queries that will they accompany their women to the jungle every day at the crack of dawn for their bowel movement? This shuts them up. Her father is her biggest supporter and encourages her to be independent and practical. She is witty and intuitive and good with medicinal herbs and animals.  All in all, a very enjoyable read, peppered with humour, bravery, pride in our heritage and the immense courage of the Maratha warriors. I think the author has nicely lined up the end for another book. So, who knows we may actually have a series of such books with Prajakta, Sarjya, Ganya and Sopan ably assisted by Kaloo and the ghorpad.   Get your copy here: