Saturday, 24 December 2011

Pirate Mom- By Deborah Underwood

This is a real fun book. Pete's mom who doesn't fancy the idea of playing along with Pete's obsession of pirates is in for a surprise. Amazing Marco the magician requests Pete's mom to volunteer for his magic hypnosis show. Pete suggests Marco turns her into a pirate and before you know it Pete's mom is all over saying ARRRR! and scaring neighbours and the postman! How will he get her back to being his polite, well mannered mom?

Refreshing story, great art work ( love it how the mom's expression changes pre and post pirate mode) and how it makes kids laugh. Great book for a story telling session.

If you have a pirate-loving little kid pick this one up for sure! 

Sunday, 20 November 2011


I saw this lovely book today at my friend's Ulka's house and I knew this had to make it to my next post here.

It's a Tullika book; written and illustrated by Deepa Balsavar (who I later found out works for Avehi-Abacus, a curriculum enrichment project for municipal schools in Mumbai).

The note on the back of the book says that this is a bedtime story that Deepa had made up for her own kid. I opened the book cover (that doesn't reveal much) thinking it will be a 'once upon a time' kind of story. While it is; it's also a story with a twist. The illustrations are very nice and the story itself is brilliant and when you read it you will know how useful it is for the time when your kid will ask you the inevitable question "where am I from?"

I don't want to let out too much because I really want you to read this book!! 

Available online from the Tulika site or Flipkart and also at the usual haunts, it is priced at Rs. 95/- and available in 8 Indian languages besides English.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Madeline- By Ludwig Bemelmans

I was fascinated with Madeline's animated episodes  that  I caught on some kids channel little knowing about the history or the books by Ludwig Bemelmans.  It was only yesterday when I borrowed it from the local library that I realised its  popularity and appeal.

Ludwig Bemelmans wrote these classic lovely children's picture books with  endearing story lines and I am really happy to read it in the print version.
There's nothing more that I can add to what's summarized at the penguin group site  or the information on its official website . 

All I can say its worth trying to get your hands on this!

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Toy Horse -Deepa Agarwal

One of the most poignant books written for children, it won an award by the Children's Book Trust. It's an invaluable book to have because it teaches in such a tender way the difference between haves and have nots.

Deep respect for the way its author, Deepa Agarwal,  portrays a 'banjara' family , their profession and art, and the feelings of the little girl who knows she has limited means.
I read it out often to my daughter who is only 4 years old but really very moved by the story. It also gives us an opportunity to provide her with a perspective on things she will see and experience all around her in India.

The illustrations are brilliant- Ajanta Guhathakurta, you deserve an award in bringing alive the memories I have of banjaras making tools and selling utensils by the roadside, turbans, and  ghaghras and some lovely silver jewellery.

Priced at Rs. 20/- and available at stores that stock CBT /NBT publications, it is a must must buy.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Little Witch Goes to School

We have been having many HAHAHA moments ever since we laid our hands on this zany book. Sylvie Wickstrom has done a great job of illustrating it and Deborah Hautzig has done a fantastic job of creating a  super funny story.

A mom witch who wants her daughter to be bad; never say please; not make friends; and not learn anything!! And she gives her daughter a lunch box full of candies: "This will help your teeth rot".
My kid laughed and laughed at all the topsy turvy instructions coming from the mum. Really, it is its  quirky humour that makes this book irresistible.

Published by Random House, its classified as "Step3: Reading on your own book". This could have been a long read but for its humour and great artwork.

A must have in your collection would be my recommendation!

P.S.: I chanced upon the author's website and really liked what she wrote about her stories that I reproduce here:  Each and every one of them is about the search for a way to be true to oneself and still be accepted and loved by the people who matter to us the most. It seems to be the one story I never tire of telling. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Clap Your Hands

An incredibly entertaining book which has an infectious story line and warmly illustrated  characters.  I love movement books and ever since I discovered this one at my friend Pooja's place,  I have been wanting to review it under the "must have" label on this blog.

Sample this:

"Hop Like a bunny,
Flap Like a Bird.
Quiet as a mouse now...
Don't say a word!" OR

"Find something big,
Find something small, 
Spin in a circle…
But try not to fall!”

Rhyming verses make this book such a pleasure to read aloud and makes its listeners shake, stomp, wiggle, tell a secret, whisper and roar with every page you turn. Of course the illustrations really make the book come alive.Lorinda Bryan Cauley, its author and illustrator has her own website that tells me that this is not the only fun book she has written and illustrated.
It's an awesome book and I am looking forward to owning it. 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Room on the Broom- Julia Donaldson

I am a dog, as keen as can be,
Is there room on the broom? For a dog like me?
YESS! cried the witch! and the dog clambered on,
The witch tapped the broomstick and whoosh they were gone!

I typed these word out of memory- and am certain I can reproduce most of the book verbatim --- that's how many times I have read the book and have read it aloud to Tuhina and her class kids.

An absolute absolute favourite -- a delightful tale full of rhymes and visuals that steal your heart. The well mannered witch and her large heart helps her to make new friends and get her out of a spot. For those who want a spin to the usual notion of "bad, evil, witch" this is such a welcome change! ( of course there is 'Kiki' but that's another post!) 

Dare I say, it is even better than the Gruffalo (reviewed here)  by the same author and illustrator , in my opinion.This book enjoys a massive fan following and that comes as no surprise to me. A fabulous story can lend itself to anything: classrooms use it in the UK as resource material; Jackonary Junior featured it on Cbeebies; and it even has a stage production. Also, a wonderful audio version can be found on YouTube

Go ahead and grab this book- it is a book for everyone- an infant/a toddler/ a 7 year old/ or a parent!

And, yes, call me for storytelling! :D

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises

Dr. Seuss needs no introduction to early readers and their parents. His books are fun, bright, catchy, lyrical, and extremely imaginative.

"Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can you?, Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises is a WONDERFUL book of wonderful noises!  I would even recommend it to be read out to a baby! It's so much fun and the repetitive noises and the actions it can provoke are very entertaining!

I used it for a story telling session for 2-5 year olds with resounding success! All the kids were mooing, buzzing, popping, klopping, dibbling and dopping, ticking n tocking with sheer delight!

Sample this:
Oh, the wonderful sounds
Mr. Brown can do!
He can sound like a cow
He can go Moo Moo
He can sound like a bee
Mr. Brown can Buzz
How about you?
Can you go Buzz Buzz

Unfortunately, the copy I own (the board book)  is a toned down version- I learnt later that the hardback and even the paperback versions  have many more things that I didn't get to read in this one- such as the goldfish's kiss and the hippo's chewing gum! :(((

So please look out for the nicer version. It is published by Random House and is available easily at bookstores and even at Flipkart.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Dancing Dinos

I own a whole load of Step Into Reading books published by Random House and I own a fair amount of dinosaur books. In either category, It is this book, Dancing Dinos, that really shines through.

The story line is hilarious, words are simple, the rhymes are great and my kid walks and stomps n munches and gobbles like a 'Dino' long after the book reading is over!

Sally Lucas does a great job in creating the story-- the kid who watches the dinos come alive on the page has just the right emotions and the versus are just right for a 3+  kid to remember and sing along! Margeaux Lucas, really makes the book come alive with her illustrations. She makes the dinos look naughty, the dad look confused, the cat being part of all scenes, and all the dance steps so real! Interestingly the author-illustrator are a mother-daughter team!,%20Sally

This book is priced Rs. 60/- by Strand Books (slightly cheaper than other books in this series). It is a MUST BUY in my opinion! Simple words. Fun story. Silly antics.There. The perfect combination to a fun and light read!
My daughter and I have this book memorized. We have also read its sequel: 'Dancing Dinos go to school' but it is this book which makes us laugh more and prompts us to act silly!

And oh! There is another reason why I like this book so much:  Its dedication reads, "To Terry, who loves to Dance".  My kid loves to dance and that's why reading this dedication always touches my heart!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

my first picture dictionary

I must  have walked into that small Hiranandani shop in Mumbai at a time when they were still deciding what to do with their stock of used books, whether to start a library or sell them off. That can be the only reason why I could buy a fantastic book for a bargain and never found such bargains again.

The book I mention is  'my first picture dictionary', written by Colin Clark , illustrated by Vivienne Bray, and published by Brown Watson Ltd. What intrigued me in the first glance was :1. that it was printed in Czech Republic and 2. that the title had no capital letters!

(The recent editions however have a whole new cover with capital text like the one in this picture above)

It's a great book to browse through and read. Each entry under an alphabet is so well thought out. The author really must have thought like a child in compiling this book!

I have often browsed through picture dictionaries for children that take such a know it all approach-- this is this and that is that. But this one in particular focuses on keeping it simple and fun. At times, it takes a descriptive approach, for example: "machine: A machine is something that helps us to do work more easily. We clean clothes in a washing machine" to sometimes the usage of terms such as "magic: the man is doing magic tricks. It is difficult to understand how a magic trick works." to sometimes triggering a kid's imagination such as " blue: Blue is a colour. The sky is blue and so are these balloons"

I really like this book. its very colorful, well illustrated, and really meant for early readers and thinkers!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Story of Castles

It was at the Strand Book Fair last year where I discovered this exciting book: 'The Story of Castles' written by Lesley Sims, Illustrated by Teri Gower, and published by Usborne Publishing Ltd. 
I love EVERYTHING about this book. There is humour; there are facts; and there are 'Asterix like' detailed illustrations that make this book so appealing.
I loved the art work. I loved the way the facts are presented. I also liked very much that  a university faculty was on board as a consultant!!! 
At the end I felt I learnt so much and had authoritative information about the castles in the west!
This book is categorized under 'Young Reading Series Two'. It is really meant for more confident readers. However, I read it often to my 4 year old and allow her to explore the artwork on her own. Even in this manner, it has proved to be very engaging for a kid who can barely recognise alphabets.
I learnt a bit more about Usborne from their wonderful website.  Their Mission states: "At Usborne, we believe that the best children's books are entertaining, colourful and informative, and illustrated with humour and an eye for the details of everyday life that children love to spot." 
How Nice! 

Monday, 27 June 2011

Joy Berry Books

Joy Berry has been such a discovery. I first saw her ' Help Me Be Good'
set of books at my kid's school. I was instantly hooked and kept borrowing until I had read each of them. And then I chanced upon one being sold for Rs.50/- in the used book section of a book fair. (The original books available at Flipkart cost a little less than Rs. 200/- )

These books are essentially about values that we teach our children--talks about good and responsible behavior that crop up ever so often. Joy Berry does it in the most entertaining and effective of ways without lecturing; without sounding moralistic; and without making a big deal of it all. It's very practical advice on living skills in actual scenarios in a child life.
Here's a nice interview of Joy Berry where she says, "Most books that teach children about values, they use the story telling approach. And while its really very entertaining, its not necessarily effective. Because in order to really modify behaviour, you need to use a very step by step instructional approach. For e.g: If u want a child to clean his or her bedroom , you don't tell a child the story about a fairy who cleaned her bed. Its too abstract. What you do, is you say, Step 1. Make your bed. Step 2: Put everything that is out of place in your room back to where it belongs..."

I own the 'Being Greedy' title and believe me, it has come in VERY handy.And not only for my kid!  I must admit there are times when I can do with a perspective on my habits as well. ;))

For more information about Joy Berry and her books, you can look up her website here.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Large Family

Again it was the Cbeebies show about The Large Family ( more on it here) that got me hooked on to the antics and the chaos of this adorable elephant family.

Jill Murphy, the author of  these popular picture books, does a fantastic job of depicting everyday life in a family setup through her well thought out elephant characters.  Almost all of us have been part of what she describes with humour and thought--be it running late for school, finishing up homework at the last minute, being a bundle of nerves at a  school performance, or coping up with a overzealous but snooty neighbour etc. etc. These everyday moments are conveyed through a  family setting of elephants- 4 kids,their parents, grandparents, school, and their neighbourhood.
What I love about the show and the stories is that it talks about important lessons in life without being moralistic.
I chanced upon the  picture book, 'A piece of cake',  in the used books section of Blossoms book store in Bangalore. It is a funny book with the most gorgeous of artwork. Tuhina giggled and giggled when I first read it out to her.

Look out for Jill Murphy's bestsellers. They wont be a disappointment, for sure!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Woman and the Crow

This book is a must pick if you are browsing the collection of books published by Children' s Book Trust (CBT).  It always manages to grab my attention with its attractive cover page and design.

The illustrations inside are amazing. And the story quite interesting: a crow runs away with the woman's roti just as she was about to eat it. She requests the crow to drop it and realises soon enough that pleading won't work. Nor would asking anybody else for help. She then resorts to a bit of manipulation aided by her  dog (the only one loyal beyond logic ) and gets back her roti in the end.

I like the story and I had read it out to my story telling audience of toddlers with good success. But what I love about this book is the art. Subir Roy draws a very life like old woman that we often encounter in our everyday Indian life-- complete with her lathi and brass plate. The crow, the village home,the tree,  and the animals are equally appealing.

It was first published in 1981 by CBT. I am so glad its being reprinted even now. Priced at Rs. 15/-, it can be found at various book fairs where CBT has a stall. I got my copy from Comet Media Foundation in Mumbai.  

To know more about Shankar and CBT, you can visit the website:

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Amar Chitra Katha

My generous childhood friend, Kunmun, used to have a huge collection of Amar Chitra Kathas (ACK)s and I was a keen borrower! However, it is this title of ACK, 'Gopal And The Cowherd' that is etched in my mind ever since I first read it as a child.

To me, it is one of the best ACK in the 'Fables' category. It is a heart warming Bengali folk tale of a simple little village boy who is scared to cross the jungle to attend school. His mom suggests that he calls out to Krishna, his brother, for help. And sure enough Krishna appears and escorts Gopal to school and back. Gopal doesn't realise that he is the God, Krishna. It is when he takes a pot of curd as a gift from Krishna to his school master that he realises that something is special about this friend.
It is written by Gayatri Madan Dutt, illustrated by Ram Waeerkar, and edited by Anant Pai. Please grab a copy not only because the story is so touching but also because the illustrations are so real- showing every emotion and thought.

You can either buy it online from Flipkart or from the ACK website: or look out for it in any of the large bookstores in your city.

Anant Pai passed away in March, this year. A touching obituary,, talks about his personal life while another sums up his work.

Long Live Uncle Pai! He really played a big role in providing good reads in my childhood!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


It's miffy's birthday today and that prompted me to blog about my favorite children's book character MIFFY!

I learnt about miffy through my friend Elly who was introducing different languages
(Dutch, English and Japanese) to her toddler son through miffy. Ever since, I have been on a fascinating web hunt for this cute little bunny!

I haven't read any of the books yet but have been visiting this website regularly. I love watching the videos and I love to copy the way Dick Bruna draws-- clean, attractive simple lines; so easy to draw but so difficult to conceptualise! I so wish I had known about miffy and Dick Bruna while I was living in Holland. I would have definitely visited the Dick Bruna Huis in Utrecht! 

In a very nice interview published by The Telegraph,,  Dick Bruna says he feels 'really like a child. I sometimes think there are quite a lot of things that I don't understand, anyway.' 
I can so relate to that!!!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Spot Goes Splash

My mom had saved this second hand book from a book collection drive in her apartment housing. She saved it for Tuhina and gave it to her when she was just over a year old. Ever since, its been Tuhina's  favorite books. Even now with many pages out of its binding, the book has a special appeal for her. No wonder, because Eric Hill designs, writes, and illustrates such charming stories around Spot and his friends. His first book ,"Where's Spot?", is a lift the flap kind of book which is a BIG hit with toddlers.

I like the fact that Spot is so well mannered and listens to his mommy! ;))
I like the fact that the focus is on everyday but such important things in a child's life - like playing a game of peek-a boo with friends; being cheerful; spending time with grandparents; and sailing a boat in the bathtub.

Short sentences, simple story line, great big font, bright illustrations, and an adorable puppy-what else can you ask for in a good book for children? There are several books about Adventures of Spot- all published by Puffin books. Buy or borrow at least one to help your child discover this delightful puppy!

If you are into multimedia then this website on Spot is a great resource as well: And here's a nice interview I chanced upon on my search for Eric Hill's perspective on his books and Spot:


Saturday, 18 June 2011

I am Too absolutely small for school

I learnt all about Charlie and Lola and its author and illustrator, Lauren Child, from Cbeebies. (It was the time when Tuhina was a toddler and Cbeebies our most reliable nanny!)
Every time I would see the credits of the Charlie & Lola show , I would wonder about the books. I lucked out  last year when I found a Charlie & Lola book in the annual Strand Book Sale. Priced Rs. 95/-,  I thought it was a steal.
Published by Candlewick Press and categorized for the 3-6 ages, the book featured here is a visual treat. I love the artwork! I love the animations! And I love the characters!
Lola is a very imaginative child with a great vocabulary. She has her own logic and her own way of seeing the world. She has a whole load of adverbs in her sentences that makes the reading such a delight! I would love to speak English the way she does! Charlie is her brother who introduces Lola as, "I have this little sister, Lola. She is small and very funny". Charlie makes a great big brother- he pampers Lola, takes care of her, listens to her, plays with her, and humors her. At the end its also Charlie's imagination that helps Lola out-- helps her get over her fear of monsters, or her fear of attending school or get her to clean her room.

Reading these books and watching the shows on TV- you can make out that Lauren Child has had fun in creating her work! And that's why these books are extra special!

The TV series is brilliant. The voice overs are really in line with the characters. And if you would like to linger on the Charlie & Lola feel for a bit more, the book is a perfect compliment. 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Our School. "Amchi Shala"

It has been such a pleasure to discover Madhuri Purandare's work. She illustrates and writes these wonderfully simple books for children and you instantly connect to her because in her every illustration you see your everyday life . To me, its very middle class Indian. Its very me.

Amchi Shala (Our school) is one such book. It is a book to read out and show  pictures to a child who is about to start pre-school (a balwadi). The myriad emotions that the child goes through in her first year of school - the conditioning , the tantrums, the fuss, the cajoling, the hesitation, the chaos, the wonder and awe, the stress, the joy- its all there! I feel this book encourages the child to get to like her school in the most gentlest of ways.

I like it that Madhuri Purandare's books have a whole lot of family/ extended family/ neighbourhood/ school/ friends as part of the story line. I picked this nuance up immediately and it was re-confirmed when in an interview published here : , Madhuri P. wrote "People in this field need to see the children’s world in totality. Children do not live in closeted and compartmentalized existence. They are surrounded by adults and constantly interact with the adults’ world."

I own a copy of this book in Marathi but it is also available in English. Very reasonably priced (Rs. 50/-from Jyotsna Prakashan); it is available online from Flipkart. I have seen it in stores like Sutradhar, in Bangalore and in some book fairs. I brought my copy from the Ideal book store in Dadar and I know its easily available in bookstores of Pune.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


It was a Sunday lunch with Nicole in Noida that led me to discover Gruffalo and its author Julia Donaldson.
What can I say about Gruffalo which has not been said before? BBC has rated it to be the most popular children's book and its reviews abound on the internet.

With its fantastic illustrations by Axel Scheffler and memorable rhymes this book is an investment- it makes children laugh, imagine, spin more stories, talk endlessly about Gruffalo and the mouse, and demand Gruffalo shaped birthday cakes from their parents!!
I am a fan of Gruffalo, of its website:, of Julia Donoldson's songs: and of other books written and illustrated by the pair. More on those in other posts!


A book that is a must must have in every kid's bookshelf : Malli. It's a story that makes you stop and appreciate relationships and sharing. A story that allows you to believe that the best things in life can actually come free!

Written by Jeeva Ragunath and Illustrated by Nancy Raj; it is offered by Tulika Publishers in their bilingual picture book category. It's categorized for ages 3+ (that includes me! Ha!) and is priced at Rs. 60/-
You can buy it online here : and ofcourse from Flipkart.
I do not know why Tulika publishers don't make a big deal of this book of theirs! It has the simplest of stories. It has the most delightful of illustrations. You can actually picture a small village in Tamilnadu flipping through the pages!

It was my dear friend Amaya who had  gifted me Malli-  i'll always be grateful to her!  It has been my absolute favorite ever since. I have in return gifted this book to so many of my friends' kids . I have chosen to share Malli in my 1st story telling session. And I have read it to my daughter, Tuhina, so many times that she has it memorized !

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The No. 1 Book on this blog has to be Victor Dragunsky's "The Adventures of Dennis"

Victor Dragunsky's "The Adventures of Dennis" published by Progress Publishers in Moscow in 1981!!!

I have read this book and re-read it and re-read it a 1000 TIMES and that may just be an under estimation! I really wanted to grow up and be an author like Dragunsky and write about everyday things from the point of a 4 year old.

A lazy Google search  revealed that I'm not the only mad fan; look at all this:

1. Fans who took the effort of typing out a few stories from this wonderful delight of a book:
and here.
2. Facebook fan page of a Marathi version!!!
3. who writes, "Of all those beautiful Russian books, my absolute favourite is ‘The Adventures of Dennis’ by Victor Dragunsky. The sheer magic, with which all the simple complications of Dennis’ (and all our) childhoods are captured in this book, is beyond anyone but the author’s words"
4. who laments, "It is the greatest children's book ever written and I had a copy of it which I read and read and in the disaster of growing up and changing homes lost it. Now I have come across it online for free reading but not on any site to buy. I would have paid any price for the book."

Thinking about this book always makes me smile. Thank you Victor Dragunsky for many many many happy moments! 
Its taken a long time coming but finally its here. My own review blog of children's books. This blog is really for me and for all those children's books that I have loved!
This is my attempt to share the joy I feel after putting down a good story book!