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Roald Dahl Day Special Book Review : The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

The Magic Finger

Story – Roald Dahl

Pictures – Quentin Blake

Puffin Books

Roald Dahl, the amazing author who brings a smile on our face, and makes us twist our tonues and sometime our mind too had his birthday on 13th September. Every year, this day is observed as Roald Dahl Day, in celebration of the author and his stories. On this occasion, we have a guest post from Sruti, an avid reader from our library and a book worm. So, here goes Sruti:

We are just a week away from Roald Dahl’s Day. And since, this year, I am going to do a few things related to dear ol’ Mr. Dahl on Sruti’s BookBlog. We are going to do a review this week, about ‘The Magic Finger’, then on September 13th, which is  next Sunday, which is Roald Dahl’s Day, we are doing a storytelling on another one his books on Roald Dahl Day at Easy Library, Hyderabad. There are a few other secrets too…
The story begins with a little girl, who is eight years old, who lives on a farm. Her neighbours are eight year old Philip and eleven year old William, who live on the farm next door with their parents, Mr and Mrs Gregg.So, in this one, we have the review of ‘The Magic Finger’. First thing about Roald Dahl is, he makes me smile. 🙂 So, when I firstly saw the book, it contained an illustration of a little girl pointing upwards, and with her finger all golden, as if to show a spark coming off it. So, I wondered how Mr Dahl and illustrator, Quentin Blake could get me laughing this time round. So, I read on…

All the three kids are good friends, except on Saturdays, when the Greggs, go hunting with their father.  Even the little boys have guns and they are off to shoot birds and animals. One Saturday, the little girl tries to stop the Greggs from going on their hunting trip. And they should have listened to her because she has a fairly big secret…

The little girl is the owner of a magic finger, which she almost never, intentionally uses. The magic finger is something which, she promises herself not to use, like she happened to, on her teacher, Mrs Winter.

Mrs Winter happened to ask her to spell cat, and the girl spelt it as ‘kat’,

putting Mrs Winter in a temper. But poor Mrs Winter had no clue that the magic finger would be used on her. Mrs Winter ended up with whiskers growing out of her face and cats’ ears and a bushy tail. And the funniest thing is she never got better!

So, whenever the little girl gets mad, her forefinger begins to tingle and lo and behold, a spark comes out of it. She was so mad at the Greggs that she happened to use it on them, as well. She did not even know what would happen to the Greggs.

The Greggs come home that day with sixteen dead birds and four live ones, which refused to stop following them. They come home and go to sleep for the night, only to wake up in the morning with duck wings. Things move fast, as they discover they are meant to live as birds and be hunted down too!

By four huge birds, who have decided to take over their house, and everything in it! The best part is, the guns too have been taken over by the birds and the Greggs happens to see them, carrying and pointing them at the Greggs.

What would happen now? Were the guns to be used on the Greggs? The little girl, who is the owner of the magic finger comes in and discovers the whole scene, the next day…

It is a fun book, with all the lessons it had to teach the folks, who happen to take out guns and shoot at innocent creatures. It is very exciting, as you are compelled to turn the pages. One can see how the events unfold and how they work for the little girl and the ducks. It is an amazing story, and does the job for kids and adults, too.

The best part is not just the story, but the illustrations too. Quentin Blake does a superb job of them, as usual. You can see the spark on the little girl, the cat’s tail on Mrs Winter, the wings on the Greggs, and the gun holding birds and much more.

Because it never is a true Roald Dahl book without Quentin Blake’s work in it, is it? It will have you laughing and teaching the kids a little something too; this book does, doesn’t it?


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Guest Post : Book Review – The Kerala Mystique

In the series of the book reviews, today, we are putting up a guest post by our long-time patron, Anuradha – who read and liked the ‘Kerala Mystique’ series from Mango Books. So, here goes – over to Anuradha:

I needed a cushioning. Two books that I picked up to read back to back were difficult though interesting. So I could not keep the Norwegian Wood aside, but wanted a more pleasing book to read, lighter, brighter, with some pictures and illustrations… Had recently read Sethu Learns to Smile from the library, a series called Kerala Mystique, written by Vinitha Ramchandani and illustrated by KR Raji. What appealed was the core of the book, how the child feels, what goes on inside that little head, each time, in so many overt and covert ways, we tell them to do something, to be something, to follow certain ways, to mould into accepted ways of the world. So I bought the entire series, six of them! It says Read aloud for ages 7+, Self reading for ages 10+. This may matter only if you are thinking of ‘age appropriate’ in gifting books. 🙂

In the circle of my kid friends, I get asked “did you bring me a book?”

I read all the books that I buy for the kids. One, because I enjoy them, two, to expect the questions, and three, to be able to have conversations with them  (and not ask questions like, how was school, what they want to become when they grow up, who do they like more, the father or the mother and such like….). Am also awed by how beautifully the genre of children’s books is coming up of late in India.

The Birdman: Few months back I read Rumi for the first time, a book named Birdsong. I have come across references to Rumi in many occasions but so far never followed any particular philosopher, thinker, mystic. Nothing against, but I like to read life’s lessons though a story, gives me a context. Birdsong was really good and Birdman got picked up first! Birdman here, referred to as Praandan-Pishashe (Mad-Devil) because of his long hair, unkempt and walking about aimlessly, and Lakshmi, who is the bully of the gang, her close encounter with him.The Birdman


Krishna and the Ducks: lovely story of a young boy, Krishna, the day he was born, rain created havoc in the little island, and it was thought that some of that rain trickled into his head and so he was dull. How Krishna takes to the ducks and changes the impressions of others about him when he finds something that he loves to do and does it so well.

DSC_0008This story reminded me of Tsunami in 2004. While working in the affected areas of Karunagappally in Kerala, close to the Arabian sea, people told us that a flock of ducks came in the waves to this small strip of land near the sea, and the community had no idea what to do with them, they have never reared ducks! That was a pretty sight, flock of them quacking away, each reference to them brought in some laughter in difficult times.

Mallika and the Cobra: A story to get over your fear of snakes. You see sometimes it is not the person who gives himself his name, but the other way around….because of the stories that were built around him.

Turtle Tales: Keertiverman is the name of the turtle and Priyanka is the name of the girl. How she rescues the turtle and brings him up and in the process bonds with her grandmother.

The Tiger Charmer: about a pretty plump girl named Neha and she has a way with animals, which how, no adults understand.


How do you know the way? Sometimes I don’t. But there are signs all over the place. Sometimes it’s the birds that tell me and sometimes it is the sun that does. Most of the time, I follow my heart. I seldom go wrong.”(The Birdman)

“The baby leaves have the brightest green. That’s because they’ve just caught the rays of light inside them. As they get older, the leaf gets darker and it takes less and less sun. Then the leaf gets wise again, learns to love the sun, and turns yellow – the colour of the sun. This is where it frees itself forever and decides to play with the wind, following it from place to place, resting when it rests.” (The Birdman)

When it rained in this island, it never just rained. Lightening cracked the sky in angry flashes and when thunder followed soon after, its powerful sound was worse than a canon exploding. After the light and shower show that the heavens put up, came the rain. (Krishna and the Ducks)

Didn’t I teach you that no animal will hurt you unless you threaten it or it felt threatened by you?         (Mallika and the Cobra)

Priyanka’s good behaviour was that she was happy. She felt loved and had someone to love. (Turtle Tales)

Grown-ups never figure things out 🙂 (The Tiger Charmer)

Little things like a squint eye, bullying, slow to learn children, their interests, countering all sorts of stereotypes, the books beautifully say things differently. I liked to see how animals, birds feel a natural part of life in these books. In today’s overprotective world, they are so refreshing to read.

Lovely illustrations, brilliant colours, leaving a lot to the imagination, how trees, forests, birds and animals can look like. Each book has translation of the few words of Malayalam used in the book.

They all end well, in peace, happy endings, and that’s lovely too. Whether reading children books as an adult, one reads too much into them? Am unable to go back that far to imagine myself back then and what these books may have meant.

These books were nice, goose-bump-ish nice!


Thanks Anu, for the guest post. We look forward to more from you.

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Book Review : The Elephant’s Child and Other Stories by Rudyard Kipling

The Elephant’s Child & Other Stories

Rudyard Kipling (Edited by Sudhakar Marathe)

Puffin Books

Most of us have grown up hanging on to every visual of ‘The Jungle Book’ TV adaptation – I still sing the title song to my son when he is roaming around wearing his undies! And then I discovered that it was actually a book, that I could read over and over and make my own adaptations in my mind every time, and that though the TV adaptation was very nice, it could never do justice to what the stories were  – and I just fell in love with Rudyard Kipling.

‘The Elephant’s Child and Other Stories’ is a compilation of stories divided in three parts, and gets progressively challenging in terms of content – Part 1 has all the imagination bundled up, as you think of the elephant with a really short stubby nose, the kangaroo walking on all fours, and a butterfly who could stamp the garden. There’s also the very engaging account of how the first letter was written and how the alphabet was made, and about the plus and minus in Gods’ world. Part 2 has the stories from the eternal favorite ‘The Jungle Book’ – ‘Mowgli’s Brothers’, ‘Tiger-Tiger!’ and ‘Rikki-Tikki Tavi’. You can never have enough of them. Part 3 moves on to more serious and thought-provoking stuff – ‘Little Tobrah’, ‘Tods’ Amendment’, ‘An Unqualified Pilot’, ‘The Story of Muhammad Din’ and ‘Lispeth’ – they are stories of children, but need to be dealt with carefully, as some of them are quite sad. Be sure to be around the kids to talk them over should they want to.

The stories are a storyteller’s delight – they have not been written, they have been told, with appropriate addressing throughout. When you read ‘O Most Beloved’, you can actually hear Kipling telling the story to you in your head. The language is almost lyrical, and he plays masterfully with words.The Part 1 stories especially have a lot of repetitive text, which is a bucketful of fun when you are reading aloud, and boosts the confidence of a budding reader immensely should she choose to read on her own. In fact, it is a great book to be read aloud to all age groups – the kids will grasp the word play better when they are hearing the words rather than reading them. There are a few tough or archaic words, but you don’t stumble upon them.

Read this book and indulge in some clever word-play, some imagination, a dash of humour and a bit of introspection with your kids!

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

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Mali Stories are Fun Stories

Mali Stories – Music Swami and Other Stories

Retold by – K Venugopal

Illustrated by – Anil Narayanan

Mango Books

Music Swami and Other Friends is a collection of stories by V. Madhavan Nair, one of Kerala’s most prominent children’s writers, more famously known as Mali, retold in a very simple and lucid language by K Venugopal.

The book consists of five stories, and the length of the stories is just right for the patience of an active 6-9 year old kid. I find collection of stories a better choice for this age group, especially for the on-the-fence readers, who need that gentle nudge and push to continue reading, while the other distractions are beckoning them. The short stories are a great tool in your hands to tantalise their reading senses – it does not take too long, and they get the complete story, too. This book does complete justice to that proposition, and the added advantage is that the book is comfortable, as well as challenging for their ever-expanding perspective and vocabulary.

Music Swami is interesting, as well as thought-provoking, making you believe in the power of music. The Street Dog’s Revenge is a simple tale, and the ending will have you in splits. The Thief and the Puppy is quite enjoyable in itself, and can be used to deliver a moral too. The Tooth on Strike is a very light read, and tells the importance of humility and teamwork. The Prince who suffered a curse will interest those who like the mythology.

The book has very nice illustrations, and they make great addition to the story. Seeing the simple pictures, children might be inspired to draw themselves. The paper quality is great too, and at just 95/-, I think it is a steal.

In the Read-Aloud month, we recommend you pick this book up to read aloud, and do tell us which story you read, and what fun you had!

This review also appears on Indian Moms Connect, where we partner with them to recommend children’s books for a month.

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Read Aloud!

It’s the World Read Aloud Day on March 5th 2015 – and it’s a wonderful concept. Reading, especially reading for pleasure is one of the most underrated activities in our country, and it is so unfortunate! Reading not only gives you a great way to do something with your time, it is something which makes you learn so much, it takes you places and least of all, it broadens your perspective.

Never too Old

Reading to your child had a positive impact on his development, and the sooner you start, the better. And why stop when the child can read for herself, we say! Reading aloud or together as a family makes that dedicated time apart from the distractions of the world – phones, gadgets, TVs, and your worries. It allows you opening to talk to your child about the tricky topics, gives you openings to the way her mind is thinking, and show them that you are there for them. So, do a good thing, and do yourself a favor – start reading aloud to your child now. A reader today is a leader tomorrow!

Incidentally, it is also Dr Seuss’ birthday today – one of the biggest advocates of reading for children, he walked the talk, and has written some amazingly fun and imaginative books for children. Pick one of his books today, if you haven’t, and see how much fun you have!

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Welcome to Easy Library Says!

Hello there! So, we just thought that we would love to stay in touch with the readers, and doing what book lovers do best – exchanging notes on books, talking about books, talking about our favorite characters, and why we hate the movies made on books – you get the idea, right? Here we go then!

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