Tag Archives: Picture Books

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: Mooncake (Moonbear Books) by Frank Asch

Mooncake (Moonbear Books)

Frank Asch

Simon & Schuster

Now that science has spoiled the game for us, and we know that moon is nothing but a land of craters, with perhaps some water lying around, we would not dream of ‘tasting’ the moon. But for the kids, moon is still something of a mystery. And on a full moon’s day, it probably looks good enough to eat!

Frank Asch’s ‘Mooncake’, a part of his Moonbear stories series, is all about the Bear wondering what the moon tastes like, when he is chatting to his friend Little Bird. And he doesn’t stop at wondering, instead thinks of ways how he can get a bite of the moon. He then decides to build a rocketship, so that he can go to the moon to taste it. Meanwhile, winter is approaching, and the Little Bird flies down south with the rest of her flock, and Bear is alone in his efforts. He does build the rocketship though, but does he get to taste the moon? Read up to find out – it’s such a lovely story.

The story is most suitable for kids around 3-6 years. There are so many new things that you can introduce to them through this book – how the animals behave differently in winter, with the birds flying away to warmer places, and the bears going in hibernation, the rocketship, the value of perseverance and the apprehension around trying something new. And it’s a simple, endearing story that would definitely appeal to them. The illustrations could have been better though. They serve the purpose, but not really exciting or attractive.

And now I want to read the other Moonbear stories too. I’ll look for them while you enjoy this one, and see if the moon is as delicious as it looks 🙂

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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: 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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Eat some laughs!

We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub

Story – Angela Shelf Medearis

Pictures – Jacqueline Rogers

Scholastic Books

There’s something about the cover of this book that wants you to pick it up, pronto. Apart from the very catchy title, there is this picture of a family who are actually sitting in a bathtub, sprinkling seasoning on their pizza slices, a jug of lemonade by their side, and relishing it as if it’s only natural that you eat dinner in the bathtub!

And apparently it is so for Harris’ family, who is inviting his friend Josh to dinner. And why do they have their dinner in the bathtub, you may well ask – and so does Josh, which makes up for a very interesting and funny dialogue between Josh and Harris, and will leave you in splits as it unfolds.

Apart from the humour, it is also a great way of telling the tiny tots about the different rooms in the house and their functions – something that they are already observing, but what better than an interesting tale for it to stick the words in their minds and speak them out loud. And to sensitise them to the fact, that everyone is different, and that in spite of the differences, you can still be friends!

The illustrations in the book are simply fantastic, and make the story come alive. You literally feel being in the woods with Josh and Harris, or see the different things the family is doing in different rooms.

Pick it up, and read it aloud, and do laugh out loud. I can guarantee the kids will have so much fun that they will want to read it over and over again, which will set them on the path of reading – after all, the book indeed is a part of the Scholastic Reader series.

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I meant what I said, and I said what I meant!

Horton Hatches the Egg

Story/ Pictures – Dr Seuss

HarperCollins Children’s Books

It was our favourite Dr Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd, and what better way to celebrate it than reading out his classics – each single one of them is a gem, and picking out one favourite is quite a task. We thought we will review one of the all-time favorites ‘Horton Hatches the Egg’ for reading aloud, as March 4th happens to be the International Read Aloud Day. Two great occasions – one great cause! Let’s read aloud – be happy, and make others happy!!

Horton is a very sweet, honest and faithful elephant, who keeps his word of looking after Mayzie the bird’s egg for her, while she can fly away for a rest. Only Mayzie is not really honest, and leaves poor Horton perched up on a tree in her nest, hatching her egg for months, while poor Horton is braving the weathers, the teasing by other animals and the hunters. He still does not leave his post on the tree in the nest when he is transported across the sea and sold to a circus – tree and nest and perch and all. What becomes of Horton and the Egg and Mayzie is truly amazing, and is sure to bring smiles to the faces of everyone reading or listening to the story.

A Dr Seuss story never fails to enthral – and is a great way of giving wings to the imagination of children. The rhythm and the poetry in the story tuck them well into the world of make-believe, and they will be gaping in anticipation to imagine what happened next. The illustrations do the full justice to the story – after all, illustrating your own story does make the pictures much more convincing!

The book is also a great pick to tell the children of tender age about keeping their word, perseverance and being faithful and how honesty and hard work do get rewarded. And when it is in such a fun way that they keep on laughing – it sure is going to hit home. Do read it aloud with your kids, even if they can read by themselves. In fact, make it a family thing – there is something magical about a family that reads together.

Do check out the pictures of the event we had here.

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

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