Category Archives: Books for kids over 9

Book Review – Walk the Rainforest with Niwupah by Aparajita Dutta and Nima Manjrekar

Walk the Rainforest with Niwupah

Text – Aparajita Dutta and Nima Manjrekar

Pictures – Maya Ramaswamy

Katha 

Once in a while, you come across a book that makes you look at it wistfully, making you wonder – how nice it would have been if I had this book to understand things back in my school days! They explain the facts that looked monstrous during school  so beautifully and simply, that you can’t help but marvel at it.

‘Walk the Rainforest with Niwupah‘ by Dutta and Manjrekar is one such book. It is a non-fiction book, but instead of just throwing textual information as a bundle of facts, it has a very friendly and comprehensible tone, with beautiful illustrations to go with it. As you read the book, you can actually feel that the authors are talking to you. The richness of the text and illustrations together instantly transports you to a rainforest, and you can see it coming alive in front of your eyes.

The book has been written in a conversational tone, and you can imagine it serving as your guide through the rainforest, introducing you to the various inhabitants of the place, and the rules of the house. There are tiny boxes of facts containing very interesting information – for example, did you know that cocoa beans actually came from the rainforests? The hero of the book is the Great Hornbill or Niwupah, and the write-up about the hornbills makes for a very fascinating read. The book also draws attention to the threat to the rainforests and its inhabitants, especially the hornbills because of the deforestation. We keep clearing the forests to make our homes, but we do need to spare a thought for the creatures who are the rightful inhabitants of that place. The book also inspires the young ones to take up wildlife activism, and gives them quite a few ideas and tips to get started at their own level.

The artwork in the book by Maya Ramaswamy is very eye-catching, and very detailed. The illustrations are so vivid and exact, that they look more like a photograph. The pictures have also been labelled to help identify the birds, animals and insects, and can serve as a starting point for a whole new exploration altogether. The world map at the end with the rainforests marked on it is a very useful addition too.

Get and read this book, pronto! It’s a treasure worth enjoying and cherishing.

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 : Cricketmatics by Anshumani Ruddra

Cricketmatics

Story  – Anshumani Ruddra

Pictures – M Kathiravan

Audiobook Voiceover – Rahul Dravid

Karadi Tales – 2009

The looooooong summer season is upon us, and so is the season of cricket (which never seems to end these days, isn’t it?). And when you mix the two, what ensues is fun, and then some more fun. But the kids still need to be kept indoors when it is blistering hot outside, and what better than books to do so – especially if the book is about Cricket!

The book is a surefire hit from the word go, as it blends in the world of mathematics and cricket very smoothly and effortlessly. Anirudh is an ardent cricket lover, and is the star of his school cricket team – never missing a training camp or a championship. But then, there is a problem. His love for cricket overpowers his interest in studies and he starts lagging behind, flunking in Mathematics. He is now faced up with an ultimatum – pull your Mathematics act together, or give the summer cricket camp a miss to repeat the course. For his love of cricket, he does try hard, but the harder he tries, the more confused he gets – he can’t quite strike a boundary when it comes to the problems of Mathematics. And then comes his cricket coach Vasu. Does he get him a waiver from the Mathematics exam, or does he make things more difficult for him? Read up – you’ll enjoy the story, and will be cheering for every strike Anirudh makes!

The story is written very well, with the characters etched out perfectly. Anirudh’s fan moments, or his grappling with the problems of Mathematics are all very real and relatable, and you are silently rooting for him in your heart. The simplicity of the narration makes it an easy read, and even a cricket ‘non-fan’ will not have any trouble understanding the various situations. Anshumani does full justice to the story and subject, and it is no wonder he is a hit with the tweens and teens for all his books. The illustrations are spectacular, and you fall in love with Anirudh as many times as you see his pictures.

The book came from the house of Karadi, and is a part of the ‘Will You Read With Me?’ series. Which means that it comes with an audiobook, with a narration by the cricket legend Rahul Dravid. The kids could read along with him, or just listen to the story – the audiobook with all the music and arrangements is a wonderful thought and a much needed gesture, to bring the kids back to books and reading. I wonder why are they not doing it any more!

Do read it – I bet you would have loved the subject Cricketmatics too, if you had a chance!

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 : The Haunted School and Other Stories by Nandini Nayar

The Haunted School and Other Stories

Story – Nandini Nayar

Pictures – Nayana V

Mango Books

What comes to your mind when the word ‘Horror’ is mentioned to you? Ghosts, darkness, eerie sounds, screams, apparitions in white? Because these things lay so heavy on our senses, we often fail to notice the source of all these manifestations of the genre – the actual horror of the sad story. Because at the end of it all, a ghost is invariably a troubled soul.

It is this horror that is brought to the fore quite lucidly by Nandini Nayar in her collection of short stories. There is no over-the-top screaming, or creating the atmosphere in building up the horror scene. because she pulls you so hard in the story that the goosebumps are actually because of the tug you feel in your heart. It is sensitivity and poignancy all the way.

The first story ‘The Haunted School’ deals with the horror at school. The ghost of a girl who was the victim of the brutality of a temperamental teacher inspires the protagonist to raise her voice against the injustice. The plight of Padmaja and the terror of The Thakkar is bound to stay long in your mind. ‘The Tennis Summer’ is about a boy who has to fight the demon inside him, the demon of negativity of a coach who is a bully, and full of hatred towards him. The parallel drawn between this coach who is weakening his game, and the illness that is weakening his grandmother is very well depicted, and you cheer for the boy for the most important match of his life. ‘The Ghost in the Tower’ is the story of a girl who is haunted by the uprooting from a familiar city and home and by the stress between her parents. She makes a few friends, and together they end up exploring an abandoned building, which is claimed to be haunted by a ghost that makes people turn nasty. How the children exorcise the ghost makes up for a great and insightful read.

Nayar is a brilliant storyteller, and she proves it yet again in this book. The imagery in her stories gives them a great character, and is a brilliant source of learning, especially for the tender minds at the delicate pre-teens stage. Her stories are not run-of-the-mill Goosebumps, inducing horror with the descriptions of the monsters – like I said before, the horror lies in the way we feel for a situation. And she makes sure that the reader stops to consider the situation as it is – you will find that the theatrics are actually superfluous.

The illustrations complement the story quite well. The way chapters have been demarcated with the picture of an object from the story show the attention to the detail.

Do pick it up for your kids in pre-teens or ages above that, or pick it up for yourself. It is a book that is as different as it gets, and very well worth a read!

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

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Fang on, Sam

See You Around, Sam!

Story – Lois Lowry

Pictures – Diane de Groat

Dell Yearling Books

What would you do if your 4 year old decides to run away from home, because they are mad at you for something you asked them not to do? Would you plead them to stay? Would you lock them up so they can’t run away? Scary though the thought is, it has been weaved into a beautiful chapter book in the series of Lois Lowry’s stories about the Krupnik siblings, Sam and Anastasia.

The story is about a day in the Krupnik household, when Sam returns from the school with plastic fangs, and wants to scare everybody with them in his mouth. Sam’s mother forbids him to take them out in the house, because she has ‘fangphobia’. And so, Sam is mad at his mother, and decides to run away to Alaska, where he could lie in a pile with the walruses and their ‘fangs’, and no one will tell him off. To his surprise, he finds that everyone from his family to the neighbourhood is really supportive, and gives him stuff to carry so that he will be comfortable in his journey. As he goes around saying his goodbyes to people who matter to him, he realises that the fangs are not that great after all, and he would rather stay back. But how he could change his mind, when no one is really asking him to stay back, he is wondering.  How that change of mind is brought about makes up for a very entertaining read.

The story has been written very well, with appropriate doses of humor and sensitivity. The community around the Krupniks warms your heart, and Anastasia is lovely as a big sister. Sam comes across as a smart, but defiant child, who realises soon enough the error he made, and then turns it about very maturely – something that is best done when the kids do it themselves, rather than the caregivers instructing the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’.

It also is a good read for us as parents on dealing with a defiant child – that all the kids and us need for coming out of a situation is just a little patience, and a lot of support, and you can get through the day without any tantrums or shouting matches.

Lois Lowry’s brilliance at story-telling shines through the book – no wonder she has won the prestigious Newbery medal twice, for her other works.This book can’t be more different in the subject from the prize-winners, but ultimately, it still talks about the bond we share as humans.

The words and the subject is just right for kids around 9. Do pick it up for them, and discuss it with your child after – it will make for a great conversation!

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The ‘pleasantly plump’ diary, we say!

Apoorva’s Fat Diary

Written by Nandini Nayar

Illustrated by Lavanya Karthik

Published by Mango Books

When I first saw the teaser on Mango Books website about the book ‘Apoorva‘s Fat Diary’ by Nandini Nayar, I was intrigued, to say the least. The reasons were many – would this books be around weight issues, or would it cover all the awkwardness that I remember going through that phase, and do we really need another diary – in the world of wimpy kids and the dork diaries?

So, when I got a chance to review this book, I just could not wait to start and find out the answers for myself. And I am very glad that I read this book – because it comes as a whiff of a delicious, aromatic and wholesome meal in the world of the fast-food laden world of pre-teen books.
The book is written in the form of a diary for Apoorva, a 12-yr old girl, who is a little overweight for her age, and hence, is the target of jokes at her home and school. And before you think that the diary is where she unburdens her feelings, hold on, for she has just taken up this assignment to please her mother, and true to form, decides to write about only 12 tastiest meals. And hence begins her fat diary.
The character of Apoorva is very real, and I am sure a lot of people across generations will identify with her. What makes her endearing is that she is not at all bitter about the fun at her expense, but is a good sport, having her responses ready for the jokes, and ready to laugh at them too. Nandini’s portrayals of Apoorva and the people around her are spot on – the grandmother’s criticism, the unwanted guest, the siblings who fight and still stay together, and even the well-meaning neighbors joining in the mission of Apoorva losing weight. The situations, be it the dinner with a guest, the myopia that Apoorva has but is reluctant to accept, the medical check up at school, or the Sports Day, are so genuine, that I had goose-pimples remembering my own days when I was an awkward 12 year old, battling with the same problems. And yes, in spite of all the real issues, the book never gets preachy, and no character ever says – ‘I told you so!’, which is one of the best things about it.
And yet, I would not shy away from using this book as a basis of teaching life skills to my own child – because the book is as much fun, as it is real. Thank you Nandini, for writing this book – while I know for a fact now that life does change a great deal, and probably a few extra kilos or glasses on my nose is not really the end of the world – I did not know that back when I was a 12 year old. Your book will make the kids chuckle, and will make them see the positive in life as it is for them now. And as forApoorva, bless her, and I can’t wait to hear more about her life!

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