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.

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: 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 endearing. 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.