Monday, 28 July 2014

Taking  a break from reviewing children's books  to put this wonderful resource up
: http://en.childrenslibrary.org/
 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: http://www.thinktibet.org/project/books/dolma-visit-the-city

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!
Or
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.

सो भी जायो , अनोखी ! Sov nu,Vesta -Linnea



I was rummaging around for children's books we haven't read in our local library and decided to look in the Hindi section for a change.  Since I was expecting to find mostly CBT/ NBT/Pratham Books/ Tullika/Tara books you can imagine my surprise when I pulled out this book ! It was in Hindi and it's title read
" So bhi Jayo- Anokhi!" सो भी जायो , अनोखी !

I was so fascinated with its illustrations and art work and knew right there and then that I have to snap out of my procrastination in updating this blog with this very book review.

Originally, this book is in Swedish published in Finland , written by Tara Appelgren and illustrated by Salla Savolainen. It has been translated in Hindi by Arundhati Deosthale and was published by Arvind Kumar publishers: http://www.arvindkumarpublishers.com/. I had never heard of this publishing group but had a hunch about who could be involved when I read on the back cover that this book translation was part of their foreign picture book series. I was right about a few members and here is a list of them.


Okay, so more about the book: Brilliant artwork. I have been going over it again and again. There is a centre spread where the artist shows the layout of the whole house. It is delightful. Also, the story line is enduring. Anokhi has trouble sleeping at night and when she does scary thoughts and monsters keep her awake. She thinks it is not right to wake her mom up every night but does like to go to her room every night and feel reassured. Her mother is surprised to find  Anokhi sleeping against her bedroom door and gives her many cuddles.

I searched a bit online and found that Vesta-Linnea books are a series. And going by the review published here, I discovered that Vesta-Linnéa’s family consists of her mother, stepfather, two younger sisters and a big brother. The stepfather angle makes me understand a little bit more of this story. Anyways, am not going to spoil it for you. It is a lovely book , Priced at Rs. 60/- it is a steal.

I am very happy Arundhati Deosthale translated it in Hindi for I would have never discovered this but I must admit the Hindi is not easy , even to a native hindi speaker like me. The text font is very small and crowded and while reading it out to your 4-8 year old you will have to cut down on many words and keep it simple. But. It is worth it.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Princess Poppy

If you are a parent like me who cringes at anything related to Barbie but your kid is so into princesses and fairies and ends up looking at all sorts of books with a Barbie image on them then Princess Poppy is your answer!

These are a series of attractive books with great stories designed for a little girl reader and their Barbie hating moms!;))

Everything about the book will appeal to the 4-5 year old princesses who would love the dainty flowers, tiny golden stars, the little envelope with a note right in front, the colour scheme , the map of Honeypot Hill featuring in every book - everything!

All the characters have such kind faces and the focus is on the story and less on the dress/ hair/makeup or looks of  'Poppy' and her friends and Family. The stories are about friendship,  sharing, feelings, standing up for yourself -such lovely themes!
However, my favourite part is their tag line, "Every Little Girl is a Princess".

Here's a nice interview with the author, Janey Louise Jones : http://clubs-kids.scholastic.co.uk/clubs_content/2170
Veronica Vasylenko does  a fabulous job of illustrating the stories but seems to have got little mention of her work on the web.
Ah! Also! The Random House group has developed a nice website for your kid to tinker around after she is done with the reading. http://www.princesspoppy.com/