Jul 042022
Review: Gupshup Goes to Prison

Title: Gupshup goes to prison

Author: Arefa Tehsin

Illustrator: Shubhangi Chetan

Publisher: Duckbill (An imprint of Penguin Random House)

Type: Paperback 

Age group: 6-10 years

Gupshup, the cat, has committed a crime no doubt, but she was not sentenced to imprisonment. Rather she willingly goes and jumps into a jail. And poor Khalid is faced with the task of bringing her back home, that too before his mother returns back from work.

Unlike the cat, Khalid is trembling at the thought of stepping inside a prison. Just like you or me, he pictures it to be a horrible place – dark and scary, full of evil criminals. As he contemplates how he could retrieve his cat in the limited time that he has, the twins come to his rescue and offer the services of their detective friend too. Khalid, for lack of any other option, accepts their help and walks inside the open prison, unsure of his fate.

But as he scouts the prison grounds with his new-found friends, his perception of the open prison changes completely. He is amazed by the normalcy of life inside. Gupshup, however, is still nowhere to be found, and all clues point to it being under the possession of the mysterious ‘Three Zero Two’ who is heard to have clawed hands and collects cats.

Will the kids be able to gather up the courage to face this monstrous man? How far are the little detectives willing to go? Will they be able to rescue Gupshup or get trapped themselves? #ReadItYourself

My 8 year old thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and devoured the entire book in one sitting. He says that he likes the book because it’s funny, and has a tingle of excitement even before you start reading it, which builds up as the story progresses. And the ending is the most extraordinary and unexpected. He also had a good laugh about the catchy names of the characters:

  • Gupshup- Who we imagine to be a talkative cat by its name and naughty definitely. #Kitty
  • Khalid- Who is super scared about losing his mother’s cat, but is clueless about how to get it back. #NeedsHelp
  • The twins – Who are clever, seem to have a solution to every problem, and talk in hashtags. Just like their names, Che & Guevara have a revolutionary personality. #Cool
  • Kodi- Who is sensible, friendly and smart. #Detective. 
  • Three Zero Two- the cat collector, a scary inmate who the kids suspect has Gupshup. #Horror

He also was fascinated to learn about the existence of open prisons and to know more about how the prison system works. We got to know that unlike the conventional jails, an open prison is just like a village with small houses, where the inmates can lead normal lives. Some even have families and children. They are free to move in and out of the premises (during the daytime), and can work as watchmen, sell goods, drive rickshaws or autos, cook food, repair cars or do any other job to earn a livelihood. So they basically have a new chance at life. They are trusted to come back at the end of the day and they do. Sometimes, trust can work wonders! We had not known about open prisons till we read this book, and on further research found out that there are actually 88 open jails in India currently. And just like it says in the book, Rajasthan has the maximum number of Open Jails, with Sanganer being one of them (where this story is based). 

As with all hOle books, the big font and illustrations make it a good read for children who are transitioning to chapter books. We would recommend it for 6 to 10 year olds… it’s sure to be enjoyed!

All of Duckbill’s hOle books come highly recommended for the topics they cover and of course, their humour.

The bookset of 25 hOle books is also available and works out awesome for gifting throughout the year!

If you enjoyed this review and wouldn’t mind a free visit to an open jail with gupshup as well as wish to grab this book from Amazon (kbc affiliate link),


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