Tag Archives: Indian Books for Children

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: 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: Three Friends by Indu Harikumar

Three Friends

Story & Pictures : Indu Harikumar

Eklavya Publications (2013)

There’s something about the picture books that takes your breath away. No matter what you might be doing – the moment your hands fall on a picture book, you just HAVE to read it. And more often than not, the story pulls you deep in the admiration of something told in such deceptively simple way. Indu Harikumar’s ‘Three Friends’ is one such book, and you must get your hands on it.

The three friends in the story are the colours red, blue and green. How these three long for more friends, and come together to create new colours is what the story is about. Nothing that you don’t know already, but think of it from a kid’s perspective, and you’ll see how much sense does it make to tell them about the primary and secondary colours this way. There’s not one superfluous word in the story, nor has it been over-simplified. But what really impresses you is the unique way in which the book has been illustrated – the author has done it herself, creating the book on cloth with fabric paints and embroidery – marvellous! The applique, the designs and the stitches – it is all so mesmerising.

And at just Rs 45/-, the book is much, much better than a steal – go for it, pronto! The book is a wonderful starter for colors for ages 2 and above.

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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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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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Don’t say ‘NO!’ to this book

No! / Nahin!

Story – Cheryl Rao

Pictures – Samidha Gunjal

Translation (Hindi) – Veena Shivpuri

Tulika Publishers

Fresh off the Tulika press is a very endearing picture book titled ‘NO!’, which is the story of the naughty little girl Annika, as well as the story that happens every morning (or probably at all hours of the day) in most households consisting of at least one child less than 5. Simply because, the kids take such a liking to the word that their parents have come to dread – everything starts, and occasionally ends with a resounding ‘No!’.

The story is the attempt of Annika’s father to wake her up so that they can go to her grandmother’s house. All the requests, temptations and cajoling are met with a ‘No!’, until Annika is faced with a scenario that makes her jump right out from the bed. Children will identify with the story very easily – they will be shouting ‘NO!’ with you before you know it, as you read the book aloud with them. I think Cheryl Rao will get extra brownie points from the fathers for making the story an interaction between a daughter and a father! Cheryl has chosen the simplest words, and the most familiar situations for the young ones, which makes the book an ideal pick for children in the age group of 2-4 years.  The fact that it is bilingual also makes it a good introduction to the sight words in mother tongue.

The illustrations are captivating, I love the realistic postures in which Annika is sleeping – well, realistic certainly for a young child, as any parent of a toddler will testify. They complement the story really well. The mimicking cat is a great addition, but her disappearance from the last couple of pages might lead on to an interrogation from a little older and more observant child. The translation is satisfactory except for a misspelling.

Don’t say ‘No!’ to this book – read it aloud with your child and see her smile to herself 🙂

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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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