Book Review: Dust On The Mountain by Ruskin Bond

One of the best things about a book is that it lets you get lost in a wonderful story! A story that is interesting and engrossing and so amazing that you just don’t want it to ever finish. And if the story comes with a brilliant message as well, then you know you have a book well chosen! In Dust on the Mountain by Ruskin Bond, I found one such very well chosen book to read and review.

I know what you are thinking. It’s like showing a candle to the Sun, talking about a story by Ruskin Bond, right? I agree. After all, he is one of the greatest children’s book writers of our country.

This is one author, whose children’s stories are not merely for children but for adults as well. In fact, every time you read a story by Bond, you find new meaning in it. The depth in his humble, simple stories leaves you enchanted every single time you read them!

And true to his amazing story telling skill, The Dust On The Mountain has a unique voice that stays with you long after you have finished the book. But really, the best part of this book is the message it gives, loud and clear – a message that is a classic as well as the need of the time!  

In Dust On The Mountain the author tells the story of a young boy who lives in the hills, right in the lap of nature surrounded by oak, deodar, maple, pine and apricot trees, working hard on his farmland. But a certain year, the lack of monsoon forces him to look for work in a big city. He takes up odd jobs there in the city and works hard, but with dignity and honesty. He sleeps on the hard floor, subsists on cups of tea and snacks and sends money back home. As he moves from job to job though, meeting
different people and making new friendships, he never loses his positive attitude and his true, inner voice.

Looking for a job once, he comes to a limestone quarry; and is appalled to see the destruction the mining industry has done to the lovely mountains! He feels for the trees that have been knocked down and the land that has been raided of its natural beauty as it is stripped of its treasures for human benefit. Eventually when he gets a chance to make a choice about staying on in the big city or going back home; he makes the wise decision to go back home and cultivate his land. When asked why he would prefer going back to his hills where he would hardly have a chance of getting any work; he answers “It is better to grow things on the land than blast things out of it”. And that, if you ask me, is the biggest takeaway of this beautiful story!   

Apart from the fact that it is a humble story highlighting the importance of hard work and the basic goodness of human nature, Dust On The Mountain is also a colourful journey that the reader takes through the eyes of our young protagonist. The change from the boy’s homeland to the big city is beautifully portrayed; and so is the complexity of human nature – where on the one had he meets kind hearted, good natured people, on the other hand he sees first hand, the dire consequences of man’s greed to take from Mother Nature whatever he can, in any which way he can!

Interspersed among the lovely illustrations by Anitha Balachandran are simple morals for children portrayed in a subtle way when the reader is told that our young protagonist always addresses his elders politely, is always well-behaved and always tries to save money as much as he can. For today’s urbanized and tech-savvy children, almost everything in this story, including the names of the trees, the lifestyle of our protagonist and his simple expectations from life; are things that are utterly new and fascinating; and that in itself, is reason enough to have them read this timeless classic.

All in all, an excellent read, I would recommend for all, young and old alike. You will fall in love with the simplicity of this story right from the beginning, you will find yourself rooting for the optimistic, honest and extremely lovable young protagonist! 
Happy Reading! 

This review was originally done for and published at 


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