Category Archives: Books for kids over 5

Book Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs

Story – Judi Barrett

Pictures – Ron Barrett

Aladdin Picture Books

Ah, rains! And the things from the childhood that are associated with rains!! The rain dance, jumping in the puddles, school holiday for ‘rainy day’, and staying indoors with the aroma of food wafting from the kitchen. In fact, if you ask me, the food memories are always high up in the list of things that come to your mind when somebody says ‘rain’. But what if it actually started raining food? Bliss, or maybe not so?

‘Cloudy with a chance of meatballs’ by Judi Barrett is a tall tale about food that rains from the sky. So, the people in the town of Chewandswallow don’t really cook, instead they wait for the ‘weather’ to come thrice a day – bringing different foods with it. It rains milk and juice, it snows mashed potatoes and there are storms of burgers and sandwiches. People store the leftovers if they would get hungry between meals. The weather forecast tells people what to expect for the food the next day, to help them plan. But one fine day, or on a not-so-fine one, the weather turns for the worse. The kitchen high up starts messing, and nobody wants to eat the kind of food that was raining. There are storms of salt and pepper with tomato tornado. What happens to the people of Chewandswallow? How do they come out of the mess? If you have seen the movie, you’d probably know, but it’s worth reading the book.

The imagination and description of the weather is hilarious, and Barrett has literally cooked up a storm. You can’t help but marvel at the way things have been thought of. The illustrations by Ron Barrett are very impressive, and come with their own quirky details. The boy drinking juice from his umbrella and ‘Ralph’s Roofless Restaurant’ will make you laugh out loud. The text is quite simply brilliant, but with the illustrations, you are actually transported to the town of Chewandsawallow.

The book was first published more than 25 years ago, and it remains popular even today because of the absurdity and silliness, that is so convincing it is almost believable. It will definitely make the kids imagine and think about what impact does the change of weather has on people’s lives. A very fun, imaginative, creative and thoroughly enjoyable book!

What’s your favourite rain or food memory?

This post first appeared on Indian Moms Connect, where we partner with them for giving you monthly recommendations for books.

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Book Review: First House/ Pehla Ghar : A Santhali Folktale

First House/ Pehla Ghar

Retold by Jane Sahi

Translation – Shivnarayan Gour

Pictures – Ranu Titus

Home, sweet home! But how did the home come to be about? Who thought that we could build a roof over our heads? What was the inspiration for the pillars, the structure and the roof? If you have ever wondered about these questions, this Santhali folktale will give you the answers.

How the inputs from each of these brought together the house is a nice story, and helps you see the sense in the ideas.

The story starts as two friends in the really, really old times get tired of taking shelter under the trees and in the caves – the changing weathers not being very helpful. So they think up the idea of having something more permanent, and start taking suggestions from the creatures around them – the elephant, the snake, the buffalo and the fish. How the inputs from each of these brought together the house is a nice story, and helps you see the sense in the ideas. The art work is marvelous – the illustrations have been done with the Santhali inspiration in just orange, white and black colors, and instantly take you into the world as it was in the stone age. The details in the artwork are quite interesting, and the observant kid can spend quite a lot of time pointing out the different features on each page of the illustrations.

The details in the artwork are quite interesting

The fact that the book is bilingual also helps the beginner reader in the second language. Though the story is quite short, the subject will be appreciated better by a kid 6 years and above. Read it up, and think of the other stories behind the things that we use everyday, and take for granted. I remember reading a similar story about the invention of the wheel when I was a kid – just an idea to get started 🙂

This post first appeared on Indian Moms Connect, where we partner with them for giving you monthly recommendations for books.

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Book Review : Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag by Marjorie W Sharmat

Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag

Story – Marjorie W. Sharmat

Pictures – Marc Simont

Random House

Don’t we all love the mysteries and suspense in stories – the thrill of the whodunit, the parallel solution of the case that is being worked out in our minds as we keep reading and eliminating possibilities as we go along? The ‘Nate the Great’ series is the perfect introduction of the genre for the young ones, and will definitely get them hooked.

Nate is an intelligent little boy, who is always interested in solving mysteries, accompanied by his dog Sludge. He also gets requests from his friends to look for their missing things. In this particular book of the series, Nate’s friend Oliver has lost his bag on the beach, and he wants Nate to help him find it. The story starts pretty well, and the kids get the hang of deductive logic that Nate is applying in solving the mystery quickly, joining him to give their own answers to the clues. The level of mystery is just right for the beginner readers, challenging them, but encouraging too with the simple clues. Nate comes across as a very smart kid with great common sense.

The illustrations are very engaging too – the notes and the clues hidden in the pictures attract the kids, and makes the book interesting. The story idea is just right for the ages 6-9, and the choice of words has the right mix of easy and a little difficult words to gear them into the world of ‘big books’ – and it is high on the entertainment quotient too!

Sharmat has written about 30 books in the Nate the Great series, and there is something addictive about them – you just can’t stop at one. The edition that I have comes with some fun activities at the end of the book, perfect for occupying the kids on a hot summer afternoon, and a good way to comprehend the finer details of the story.

Get sleuthing with Nate the Great and your kids then!

This review first appeared on Indian Moms Connect, where we partner with them for giving you monthly recommendations for books.

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Book Review: A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

A Fine, Fine School

Story – Sharon Creech

Pictures – Harry Bliss

Scholastic

OK, so you love your school, you love your teachers, you love all that you get to learn there – but do you love it enough, that you want to be there all days of the week, and all holidays, AND all summers too? Scary thought, isn’t it? And if it does not sound as scary, Sharon Creech does tell you in a very simple and lucid manner, in the book ‘A Fine, Fine School‘ (published by Scholastic), why it should scare you!

Mr Keene is a fine, fine principal of a fine, fine school, where the fine, fine teachers teach the fine, fine children. Mr Keene loves his job, and the school and of course everybody there. So, five days of school is just not enough for him and he tells everybody to come to school on Saturdays too. And then Sundays, and then all the holidays like Christmas, and before you know it – the summers too! No one really wants to come, neither the teachers, nor the children – but they don’t know how to tell this to Mr Keene. And then comes Tillie, who tells him about the learning that they are missing out because they have to come to school everyday. And the fine, fine principal that Mr Keene is, he immediately takes an action to correct it – does he do it by calling the kids to school for the night too? Read the book to know!

The author has done complete justice to the subject, to the words, and her style of writing with a subtle wit makes the book all the more endearing – no wonder she has won prestigious awards like Newbery and Carnegie Medal.It’s a wonderful story, and the theme is relevant universally, irrespective of the times too. More so, when you see the urban kids around, or may be their parents – the competitions and the pressure of academics being ingrained from the pre-primary levels. Why do we forget that in our own lives, the most important and useful lessons that we learnt were not in the classroom, but in the playground, in those ‘in-between’ times, simply being observant of the surroundings? While the story is simple enough for a budding reader to understand, you should not miss the opportunity to talk about it post-reading – the discussion could be an eye-opener for you!

A word for the illustrations – they are AWESOME, and the attention to detail is magnificent.Watch out for the expressions of the dog, the pranks going on in the bus, or the banner in the cafeteria – simply brilliant!

Read it up – it’s a fine, fine book!

This review first appeared on Indian Moms Connect, where we partner with them for giving you monthly recommendations for books.

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Smile, please!

The Rajah’s Moustache

Story – Asha Nehemiah

Pictures – B G Varma

CBT Books

‘Moochhein ho to Natthu Lal Ji jaisi ho…’ – so goes a dialogue in a very popular Hindi film of yesteryears, and automatically pops up in my mind the moment I see someone with a large and bushy moustache. Rajah Muchacho Singh of Mooshipur makes me say the same thing in my head, but when I read the story, it is far, far funnier than the dialogue!

So, the king is quite proud of his moustache, which is ‘curly and whirly and twirly’, so much so that he sings songs for it, and has everything in his kingdom shaped the way his moustaches are – right from the trays and mirrors, and beds and shoes, and food and hedges in the garden, even down to his favorite horse’s tail. But one day, the unthinkable happens, and the Rajah’s moustache refuses to curl up any more, poking out of his face ‘like two royal spears’.

And so begins the tryst to make the Rajah’s moustache go curly, whirly and twirly again – the tricks are so ridiculously funny that they’ll make you want to roar with laughter. Does the Rajah’s moustache regain it’s lost glory – read the book to find out!

Asha Nehemiah enjoys huge popularity amongst us book lovers for the genuine charm and humor in her stories, and for the fact that the stories are never ‘dumbed down’. This book has won the first prize in the category Read Aloud/ Picture Books in the Competition for Writers of Children’s Books organised by CBT, and quite deservedly so. The pictures do full justice to the story and make the book even more endearing.

So, go on, read the book, and laugh out loud – in honour of Asha Nehmiah and Raja Muchacho Singh of Mooshipur!

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