Monday, 25 August 2014

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Would love, love, love to have this book with me. Here's a review ( not mine- since I haven't checked it out myself) that is getting me all excited about owning this:
I bought The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds recently and thought it was wonderful.It’s about a young girl who doesn’t think she can draw, but who has an amazing art teacher who encourages her creativity and artistic self-confidence. Maia enjoys The Dot and wants to read it several times in a sitting, but the book is really aimed at older kids and even adults. Maia, of course, hasn’t gotten to the stage where she might question her drawing ability and I hope that she never does.I worried a little (as I worry about everything!) that by reading her a book about a child who doesn’t think she can draw that I might be introducing the concept to her. But in the end I decided that the book is really about a girl who grows tremendously in creativity and confidence and who goes on to draw and paint enough for a whole art show. And really, I shouldn’t worry so much!THE DOT IS A BOOK ABOUT CREATIVITY And is written to encourage artistic self confidence.


Young Hindi Learners- the NCERT Hindi textbook may just be the right resource for you if you are interested to learn a language in the most interesting of ways: art, activities, stories,culture, folklore and more!
Am so impressed with the Class 1 textbook that I picked up called 'Rimjhim' that  I decided to make it part of my gift package to all my NRI friends' kids.

If you are looking for a simple, fun, and an attractive book that gently encourages your child towards learning Hindi  pick the RimJhim series published by NCERT.
The class 1 book meant for a 6 year old has no " k, kha , gaa"  to memorise before anything else. It dives straight into a world of stories and imagination with words that kids relate to in their school life. Wonderful illustrations, Hindi ditties, folk art (Madhubani or Warli anyone?) , riddles, picture stories- what else can you ask for while teaching a language! I just wish they had improved on the paper quality but maybe it is a trade off for keeping the prices low. (Rs 50/-)

If you are a looking to pick up a Hindi book to teach your kid the language, do seriously think of this. If you are looking to supplement the existing Hindi textbooks prescribed in the school , even then think of this.
Here is a link where you can download them online for free:

Monday, 28 July 2014

Taking  a break from reviewing children's books  to put this wonderful resource up
 where you can get some wonderful children's books digitally archived for you to read for free.

Here is what part of their mission statement says :
The ICDL Foundation's goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world. Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children's literature from the world community.

How wonderful! 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Dolma visits the city

School closes for the winter break and Dolma is excited about her vacations. She is singing her father’s favourite song while waiting for him to come home. On seeing her dad, Pa-La , Dolma runs up to him in joy. But Pa-La doesn’t share her excitement about school holidays and Dolma remembers why. He will soon have to go away to the big city to earn a living. Like many other Tibetan refugees of the Phuntsokling refugee camp , in Chandagiri, Orissa , Pa-La will once again spend the winter away from Dolma and her mother selling sweaters in Bangalore. Although Dolma loves to sing, no one can coax a song out of Dolma after her Pa-la goes away. 
But Ama-La , Dolma’s mother, has a surprise for Dolma. They are going to Bangalore to help and be with Pa-La. Dolma visits a big Indian city for the first time- excited and nervous- observing the traffic, customs, markets and the people. Dolma does her best to help not only in setting up the shop but also in cooking the Thukpa, organizing a community feast, and celebrating Losar, the Tibetan New Year, with other Tibetans sellers in Bangalore. In the end, much to her Pa-La’s delight, Dolma sings a lovely Tibetan folk song for every one present.

A gift from a friend,Benson,  this book didn't catch my 5 year old's fancy for a while because of the long text. But once we did a reading together, she was on a roll. I often saw her seeking it out and reading it and attempting to mimic some of the words and it soon became a hot favourite!

Also written as a political commentary  ( which book on Tibet and its people wouldn't be ) Aravinda Anantharaman cleverly introduces  Tibetan customs, language, food, and culture through a simple story.  This  book can be a great way to encourage discussion about different communities, life in exile,  and at the same time about the hopes and aspirations of children alike. 

At the end a well compiled glossary provides more nuggets of information. There is even an interesting glossary of Tibetan words used in the book. It is one of the two children’s books written as Meyul series that attempt to offer children a glimpse of life in an exile community. (Meyul is a Tibetan word that means a place that is not one’s home. ) More on this here:

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dongdong and His Kitten

I was rummaging around in my nephews's old book shelf and surprise, surprise-- found a Chinese picture book (written  in English)!

Now that was a first! Not only it has a great story line but has some nice art work - so refreshing and different from the Western/ Indian world of picture books I am used to. I took a picture of one of its pages below for you to take a look.

It is published by Dolphin Books; the story is by Xu Xinghua; and illustrations by Yuan Xiaomin.

This is how the story goes: 

Dongdong breaks a vase by mistake and blames it on  Kitty, his kitten. When his mother decides to send Kitty away and starts putting her in the basket, Dongdong admits to having broken the vase. His mom ( predictably ) tells him not to tell lies and lets Kitty out.

Now here is the nice bit as the story continues:

Kitty on another day breaks a bowl while stealing a fish from the kitchen and Dongdong doesn't know what to do. He worries that mom will this time really send Kitty off so he takes on the blame. Mom looks at him as if to ask him what  to do. He begs her not to send Kitty away and his mom says," That depends on whether you 're going to behave yourself now". Dongdong admonishes Kitty and says, "Don't steal any more fish". The story ends with Mama gently stroking Dongdong and reiterating: "Never tell a lie, there's a good boy."

It is a  great preschooler's book about behaviour without being preachy. To me this story speaks about an important theme-- children lie because they are afraid of how we will react as parents/adults. I wish I can get hold of the other books listed in the Dongdong series! Any idea , how?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Germs! Germs! Germs!

Scholastic publishers have  these 'Hello Reader!' series that I am personally quite fond of. They are age appropriate and offer varied options according to the reading ability of the child. 
I quite like the book on Germs that has great rhymes and fun illustrations to drive some key messages home. 

Sample this:
We're on the ground, 
We're in the air. 
We're germs 
and we live  everywhere!
Knock-knock, body. Let us in! 
We'll make you sick once we begin!

Every germ thinks it's just grand
to hop in a mouth on a dirty hand.

Written by Bobby Katz and illustrated by Steve Bjorkman , the book is written from the perspective of germs and when they are happy attacking you and your body and when they get shut out. Informative about what helps germs multiply and what keeps them away and also some facts about your body. They have some fun names like "hurry ups" who don't flush or wash after potty, "nose pickers", "sneezers" and "coughers" that make kids laugh. This makes the health and hygiene lesson fun instead of preachy.  Nicely done! My kid's school library also has it and the teacher has read it out to them. So in my opinion, very useful for any educator or parent.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Veena Player

When we were living in Holland we were constantly amazed at how kids accompanied adults to museums, art installations, exhibitions; and in turn how child friendly these places were. At some point we  picked up a thin booklet published by Rijks Museum , Amsterdam, named 'Gordon the Warden, And His Rijksmuseum Top 5'. Five famous paintings are depicted in the booklet and by means of some clever riddles/ puzzles/ fun facts, children are encouraged to discover art and history. Here are some images of this booklet I took this morning to share on this blog.

Ever since we introduced books to our daughter , I have been on a constant lookout for age appropriate books that encouraged looking at art , history, culture in a fun way. And I think The Veena Player from Tulika books is a close find. Written by Anjali Raghbeer and illustrated by Soumya Menon , it is one of the four part books that leads children into the world of India's best known artists. This book is about the works of Ravi Varma.

I was a bit hum- ho about the story line but my 5 year old has reissued it several times from the library so I guess it does speak to her. Also, on our recent visit to Tranquebar- she recognized many of Ravi Varma's work displayed in the hotel lobby and that really made me think- "wow. the book did a good job in introducing the artist, then!" In the end the book has a 4 page description of Ravi Varma's life, his paintings, what made them special, and his influence on pop culture and art. That is interesting read for older children and adults like me who are not that well versed with art! My 5 year old sticks to the story and closely observes the art.

Priced at Rs. 200/- it is a bit steep but I think it is a book worthwhile for your collection. The other books in the series portray Amrita Sher-Gil, Jamini Roy and M.F Hussain.