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!