Book Name: The Great Moto-Matic House – The Incredible Adventures of Ziptux and Dibby
Author: Brijesh Luthra
Age: 9 – 12 years
Science, fiction, cricket, humour and lots of adventure with a ‘desi’ flavour- that’s what ‘The Great Matomatic House’ by Brijesh Luthra is all about.
Ziptux, a ten-and-a-half-year-old boy is an Indian and lives on Earth – in Switzerland – with his parents Mrs and Mr Kapoor. He has a secret friend Dibbly – a grandpa robot or Grandbot as he is called in the book. Grandbot is from Gaia – far, far away from the Solar system in a different galaxy.
Like most kids of his age, Ziptux (we don’t know his real name but that’s what the Grandbot decided to call him!) likes a lot of things. He has a longer list of things he doesn’t particularly enjoy. This list includes – taking a shower, for instance. But his love for science drives him to create machines that could do these for him. He discusses them with his parents. The first project by the father-son duo called a ‘Bath-O-Miser’ is quite a disaster. The perfect parts for creating machines like these are available on the ‘Trial and Error’ store which err… exists on another planet – the Hyper Helix which is JUST a few trillion light years away. No story is complete without a trouble maker! And here, the trouble maker comes in the form of a neighbour called Torquemedis who loves stealing ideas while munching on his favourite potato chips.
The adventures begin when Ziptux reveals his friend Dibbly to his mother, and the trio – Ziptux, Mrs Kapoor and Dibbly travel to the Hyper Helix, leaving Mr Kapoor fast asleep back home. Torquemedis secretly follows them and steals the ‘Moto-Miser’ that can make almost any machine one wants – a machine that can make a cup of tea to one that can create a whole new planet! But use it the wrong way, and it can destroy the universe!
How can they find a way to stop Torquemedis, while dealing with many more space things and yet manage to get back to earth and surprise Mr Kapoor on his birthday by creating a ‘Bath- O_Miser’… all in – ONE NIGHT!
The concept: ‘Desi’ touch with language and cricket
We have all read science fiction books, almost all of them are by western/English authors. There are also sci-fi movies by both Hollywood and Indian filmmakers. Having read the book, it is fair to say that ‘The Great Moto-Matic House’ is definitely a first that aims at reaching expat Indian kids who enjoy science fiction, speak or understand Hindi and German. You’ll find instances throughout the story where Ziptux and his parents use the Hindi word Arey – which is used to express surprise, annoyance or sometimes even to begin a conversation. There are also instances throughout the story where Torquemedis uses German words like Ja, nein, mein Gott.
Most stories gain popularity and also pick speed when one blends the local sport of one’s home country into the story. And when it comes to India, it has to be cricket! The author himself being a coach of the under-16 boys in Switzerland has woven his love for the game very well into the story.
The book creates its own vocabulary: Those of us who’ve grown up reading Enid Blyton and the Potter series will surely relate to this. We haven’t forgotten the Wish-a-wish – the whispering of the trees or the toffee shock or the slippery slip from the Faraway series or the many spells like ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ ‘the Expecto Patronus’ or the Butterbeer from the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
Luthra, too, manages to successfully create this interest in his readers. Throughout the story you find Torquemedis speaking with an accent. There is the ‘Bath-O-Miser’ and the ‘Moto- O- Miser’ or the ‘lingua equalisers’- with these, one can speak or understand any language in the world. The book is full of names and processes that create pictures and definitely kindle the interest of 12-year-old kids that love science and fiction.
Humour and learning: There’s humour throughout the book. The conversation between Mrs Kapoor, Ziptux with the aliens and creatures from Hyper helix and their favourite Dibbly is particularly enjoyable. Humour aside, the author manages to throw in scientific concepts making it a fun learning process. There’s gravity, atoms, light years, speed, oxygen and how things move in space to name a few.
Moods and emotions: There’s emotion too throughout the story. It’s fun when you read it with kids to find Dibbly, the egg-shaped robot lights up in different colours to express his moods. A personal favourite was when Dibbly is rescued, Ziptux is happy and teary-eyed to have his friend back again, and Mrs Kapoor almost expresses the joy of rescuing her own son!
An enjoyable book, suited for young kids. Since this book will be read by kids ranging between 9 – 12 years, it’s quite possible that the same concepts may or may not appeal to different age groups. For instance, things like receptors and prototypes could come across as too simple or complex. The narrator – a third robot Trib, who is mentioned only in the first chapter, and the guessing game he plays by using terms like “Let’s get to that later”, “You get the picture right ?” could endear or distract readers depending on their reading preference.
The Great Moto-Matic House was listed in the top 10 children books released in India in 2018. You can get a taste of Ziptux’s and Dibbly’s adventures by downloading the first three chapters from their website www.ziptuxdibbly.com.
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