October 2nd will soon be upon us. We will celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Some of us will take the opportunity to narrate stories about Gandhi to our children. For the current generation of young children, the implications and impact of the struggle for independence is something they have not known in their collective consciousness. But, they do know about the far-reaching impact of the teachings of Gandhi. Hence, this would be the perfect occasion to introduce My Gandhi Scrapbook. The book is apt for all school going children, including older ones.
Sandhya Rao, the compiler of this unique scrapbook, is an avid scrapbook enthusiast. A Scrapbook is personal and it is a canvas to explore and
express your inherent creativity without being bound by any rules. My Gandhi Scrapbook does just that, making the father of the nation become a part of your child’s life in a more participative way.
From the very beginning itself, she introduces this premise:
My Gandhi Scrapbook is a very thin book almost mirroring the look of a typical scrapbook. It is a book in which the author invites the children to become active participants. There is information about Mahatma Gandhi, but there are many empty spaces calling on the child to fill with his own thoughts, feelings and reflections on what Gandhiji means to him or her. The child can draw, write, stick and colour into the book without any restriction.
The book thankfully abandons a chronological account of Gandhi’s life. Instead, each page highlights some interesting aspect of his personality, or his life and influence. The pages are filled with many images and graphics: photographs, stamps, notes and what not. Quotes from his books and excerpts from letters are gently interwoven. You’ll find interesting and less known nuggets of information as well.
In between all this are little activities for kids. They have a chance to try out drawing Gandhi’s silhouette, stick their own pictures of him, scribble their observations, and of course, write down their own nuggets of information about Gandhi. This is one of those rare books which gives authorship to children. They are actively involved in making the book.
The last few pages of My Gandhi Scrapbook are blank. And that’s the way it should be. They are for the reader to add what he or she wants to about Gandhi. At the end of it all, this is not a book they read. It is a path of making Gandhi truly their own!
My Gandhi Scrapbook by Sandhya Rao
Indian mythology is full of fantastical creatures and we’ve woven legends around them. Yet, very rarely do these monstrous beings find space in popular books. Till now that is. Tooth and nail, fur and scale, a book for introduces us to some amazing creatures found in popular as well as long forgotten traditions. Intended for the 10-14 year age group, it is
It is also interesting to note that a couple of the creatures described in the book have their origins in works of old Greek and Roman lores that mentioned these monsters as inhabiting India.
With the repertoire of stories that we’ve grown up with, one may think that these creatures would be familiar to us. But that’s far from the truth. They have been carefully drawn out from myths and placed in different situations and realities and weaved into a tale.
The settings for each of the fifteen short stories are varied. You will glide through ancient courts. You will meet a Yaksha at the airport, learn about a strange friendship between a pishacha and a human being, and ride to faraway mountains to meet gold digging ants or venture in the forest to encounter a cow eating tree. On the more sinister side there is the croccota who tears apart bodies of princes who dare to woo a certain princess. There is the astomi who feeds on smells, poochandi who kidnaps children and the pishachas who inhabit human bodies.
It’s a heady mix of tales. Some will spook you. Some make you smile and some are plain heartwarming!
My favourite story in ooth and nail, fur and scale was that of poochandi, the Tamil bogeyman. We’ve all been scared out of our wits as children by some version of the poochandi. While the protagonist of the story bravely follows a poochandi, hoping to catch him in the red handed as he takes away naughty children, does the faceless horror live up to his reputation of being THE one kids are scared of? Without revealing much, let’s say the tables are turned in this one.
At the end of each chapter, there is a brief description of the creature that forms an integral part of the story, and of course a lucid illustration of the monster as well.
What I find refreshing is that we have always placed mythical creatures in mythical settings. Here, in some of the stories, Arunachalam brings them out from their worlds and puts them in ours (which is why you have a pishacha ride in an Uber and a yaksha chatting with the protagonist at the airport fountain). This makes it fascinating and scary. After all, how can you be comfortable after knowing that any of these may well inhabit your current urban surroundings?
Humour and horror don’t really make strange companions as you will find out on reading “Tooth and nail, fur and scale”. The reader does smile all the way to the end! It’s got enough spook to raise quite a few goosebumps, but at the heart of it all are beautiful stories that will strike a chord somewhere within you!
So if you’re wondering about really fantastical creatures and where to find them, now you know where to look!
Tooth and Nail, Fur and Scale by Anupam Arunachalam
Age Group: 10-14 years
Published by Penguin Random House India, July 2017
There are few leaders who leave an indelible mark in the world, not only during the times they live in but much beyond. Nelson Mandela is one such leader who continues to inspire long after his death. His autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, chronicles the story of the long and painful struggle for freedom in South Africa.
This amazing story has been beautifully abridged by Chris van Wyk and charmingly illustrated by Paddy Bouma, especially for children.
Those who have read the original autobiography, will understand that the task of picking out relevant bits to include in the children’s version would have been a Herculean one! Yet, Wyk has done a fantastic job on this one.
The text is in first person and traces Mandela’s life from his birth in a small village, a life filled with struggles and sacrifices, to finally become the first elected president of independent South Africa.
It also weaves in a lot of contextual information about apartheid, the various tribes of Africa and the political scenario of the times. This helps children connect with the book and place it in context.
When ‘Madiba’ as Mandela is called, was young, his father nicknamed him ‘troublemaker’. As the book traces the development of the playful child to the socially aware young adult who grew to be the staunchest supporter of equality and justice in the world, one realises how this label eventually became true, albeit in a very positive manner!
The parts about the development of the African National Congress and Mandela’s long prison sentence are particularly interesting. Mandela’s life had been long but filled with struggles and sacrifices on his part for the greater good. Long walk to freedom touches upon several such sad instances in a mature, simple and straightforward manner, quite apt for children.
The illustrations accompany the story beautifully. They aptly aid the understanding of the text. Starting off with a map, placing the geographic context the illustrations move with the story taking us through the life of one of the greatest men who ever lived!
Long walk to freedom, Nelson Mandela
Published by MacMillan
If you’re also inspired to read the actual autobiography, that’s a great idea as well!
The main theme of Between the Lines, where one of the fictional characters falls head over heels in love with the reader would make every bibliophile and book lover’s dream come true! This happens to be my very first Jodi Picoult book and I adored it. I just couldn’t put it down and read it in two days’ time. Apparently there is a sequel to this book which I am going to borrow from my library ASAP.
Between the Lines is a light romance with a lot of plot twists that keeps the reader’s attention till the end. The characters are interesting and real to life–well almost. The story about how a handsome prince falls in love with a teenage girl who is the reader of his fiction world is magical, captivating, and alluring. The tender moments of this book are precious.
The climax is out of this world and something that I personally would not have been able to crack, so kudos to Jodi Picoult, and to her lovely daughter Samantha. The magical fairy tale world of Prince Oliver is as captivating as the regular high school life of Delilah.
By the way, this is actually a Young Adult story, but I only realized it after I picked it up from the library. However, it’s brilliant not only for a teenager but also for an adult reader who once in a while ‘likes to get lost in a good book.’ My congratulations to Samantha van Leer for coming up with such a marvelous idea for a book. It’s a great story and yet the reader is made to feel as if it was no trouble at all to think of this idea. Genuineness radiates greatly from this book and has forever made me a Jodi Picoult fan.
I remember when I was a teenager reading Richard Bach’s books and wishing that one day Richard Bach would suddenly materialize from the middle of his book and fall in love with me, and then I would have a boyfriend of my own caliber. If you’ve ever had that thought too when you were reading a book of your favorite author or a character that you liked a lot, then this is the book for you.
This story has a lasting appeal which can’t remain enclosed ‘between the lines’ of the book. It’s a book you will be recommending to people for a long time to come!
This book has been reviewed by Fiza Pathan and was first published on her blog www.insaneowl.com.
A huge range of books are published each month globally, but choosing the right one can be a herculean task. Hence, to ease your efforts, our curation panel at Enchantico goes through an extensive curation method and picks the best 2 to 3 books for every age group.
The first book for our young readers aged 5 to 6 is about a princess named Cinnamon who stays along with her parents, Rajah and Rani, in the kingdom. She had eyes of pearls, meaning she is blind. She never spoke, either. The king and the queen were worried. A talking tiger then entered the kingdom to teach the human cub how to talk. Will he be able to do it? Or will Cinnamon never talk? Let’s find out with Neil Gaiman in ‘Cinnamon’, brilliantly illustrated by Divya Srinivasan.
The second book for our 5 to 6-year-olds will allow the kids to dive into the world of art and painting. Mona Lisa was just painted and she now rests in the Louvre Museum. But, one night she gets stolen. Mona Lisa is now missing! Everybody is panicking. Neither the cops nor the intelligence unit is able to find her. Will they be able to retrieve the world famous portrait of Mona Lisa? Or will she be gone forever? Presenting, Ruthie Knapp’s ‘Who Stole Mona Lisa?’ beautifully illustrated by Jill McElmurry!
The first book for our 7 to 8 year olds will take you back to the Aztec reign. Chantico is a young boy and wishes to be a soothsayer like his Uncle Ahcambal. But, one day a fiery comet appears in the sky and none of the priests are able to explain what it really means. King Moctezuma orders them to be killed. But young Chantico has the gift of second sight and has seen the future in his dream. He comes up with a plan to save his uncle from death. Will he be able to save his uncle? Or will the prophecy be considered false? Presenting Karen Wallace in ‘The Comet of Doom’!
The second book for our 7 to 8 year olds is a series of true stories about five animals who outsmart humans in a really amazing manner. From pick-pocketing parrots and farting fishes to baby-snatching monkeys and so much more, you’ll go bawling over the range of extraordinary antics pulled by these animals. Join in the fun with Nicola Davies in ‘Animals Behaving Badly’, exceptionally illustrated by Adam Stower.
For our readers aged 9 to 10, this month’s first pick is a story of the Bolds. They are just like you and me; they live in a nice house in Teddington and have a job too. But, there’s one slight difference, they’re not humans. They’re hyenas and this is their best-kept secret. They love to giggle and laugh and bawl over anything and everything. However, the next door nosy man smells a rat (a hyena in this case) and a trip to the nearest wildlife park, wacky heists and loads more might bring an end to the best-kept secret. Will the nosy man be able to reveal the secret? Or will the Teddington’s best-kept secret stay secret forever? Find out with Julian Clary in ‘The Bolds’.
The second book for our 9 to 10-year-olds is an amazing compilation of two crazy stories, Spaghetti Triangle and Teacher Trouble. John and Nicky love to eat everything from a piece of chocolate cake to a bowl of chips. But their strange aunt won’t let them eat anything raw. One day they slurp down a plate full of spaghetti and they want more. Jenny, on the other hand, has her first day at school, which is weird and it gets even weirder when she is mistaken for the teacher. Giggle, laugh and tickle your funny bone with these two amazing stories compiled in Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Marvellous Mix-ups’, beautifully illustrated by Kate Hindley.
The first book for our grown up readers aged 11 to 12 is of Ned Waddlesworth who thinks that the world around him is exceptionally ordinary until he discovers it isn’t ordinary AT ALL! He is on a journey from leaving his home to joining a circus, when he realises that, without him, the world would be engulfed with monstrous beasts and beings. It’s up to Ned, now, to go on a magical mission to save the world. Will Ned along with his flying circus be able to save the day? Find out with Justin Fisher in ‘Ned’s Circus of Marvels’.
The second book for our 11 to 12 year olds is a fast-paced historical mystery adventure. Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, deceit, and trickery from all sides when a priceless picture is stolen from Mr Sinclair’s art exhibition. Be amazed as the duo put their wits to test to solve this perilous adventure filled with loads of questions and puzzles. Find out if they unmask the villain and prove themselves as worthy detectives with Katherine Woodfine in ‘The Sinclair’s Mysteries – The Painted Dragon’.
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Lend Me Your Ears: The Puffin Book of Elocution Pieces, edited by Terry O’Brien, is supposed to help students who are working on their elocution skills. While it surely accomplishes this aim, it does much more. It brings the best literary gems across genres and authors to the discerning reader. This is a book that any book lover will cherish!
But, coming back to its stated purpose- communicating effectively is a skill that is undoubtedly quite essential in survival kit of mankind. One of the formal ways of developing and assessing these skills is by elocution. Remember those elocution competitions at school? Or those very popular speech and drama classes that almost every child does nowadays? We have all heard various speeches but only some of them really stand out and entrench themselves in our minds and hearts.
Lend Me Your Ears presents a collection of poetry and prose that will add spice and meaning to your speeches. These are not merely run-off-the-mill pieces. Each one has been carefully handpicked and curated for its potential applications to public speaking.
The book starts off with a comprehensive checklist of how to improve and build on public speaking skills, including how to select the right piece. It is then divided into varied sections.The section on poetry presents a collection of well known poems from the annals of literature. It also elaborates on specific points to consider while reciting poetry. Appreciation of a poem is a prerequisite to understanding it completely and incorporating it in a speech or as an elocution piece. Hence, before each poem there is a short background note that aids understanding. From the evergreen “IF” by Rudyard Kipling, to poems of the English Romantic poets right through the Indian literati such as Tagore, Sarojini Naidu and the very beloved Ruskin Bond, it has enough to ponder over!
What I like best is the “Kiddies Corner” which has a selection of poetry especially meant for children. Leave behind the notion that poetry must be esoteric, and revel in these gems for children, coming from the best poets across ages.
Terry O’Brien has picked true gems from known classic works by American and English writers. There are excerpts from Indian writers as well, and that’s quite welcome!
Of course, when we talk about public speaking how can we forget famous speeches that have captivated generations so far? Many political speeches fall into this category. These historic orations by world leaders such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John Kennedy and so on, will remind you of the time when political leadership truly inspired change through the power of words.
The prose section also has a ‘kiddies corner’, that follows the main prose selection of essays, independent features and short stories by well known writers. These are humorous or philosophical pieces that resonate with a wide group of readers.
Elocution and drama are overlapping and related. The last section comprises of extracts from well known plays. Shakespeare obviously takes centre stage here! Anything that has to do with good language must include Shakespeare, and the book has charming selections from the bard’s works.
Lend Me Your Ears took me back to some very pleasant memories of studying literature at school and college. It reasserted the belief that words do make a difference and that the ingredients of powerful speeches can be found amidst the beautiful world of literature! Lend me your ears is a handy book that provides for interesting reading, definitely for young readers who seek to build on their public speaking (and writing) skills, but also for older children and adults. In my opinion you could safely add it to the collectible list!
Lend Me Your Ears: The Puffin Book of Elocution Pieces, edited by Terry O’Brien
Penguin Random House India (5 July 2017)
Sonia Mehta, who has been writing for children for over two decades, brings the saint back to life in Junior Lives: Mother Teresa. This book is the first title in a series of illustrated biographies created for young readers. The aim of the series is to get to know our world heroes better.
This book sets a great example for the rest of the titles to follow. Mother Teresa’s life is narrated in form of a story. This is something that always works with children. It traces the story of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the young girl from Albania who transformed into the beloved Mother Teresa, the epitome of humanity.
Written in a very engaging way, it is packed with little-known facts which make it all the more interesting. Speckled with stories and incidents from her life, the book aptly takes the reader through the saint’s childhood, her decision to become a nun, her tryst in India and her work with the poor. It ends with her journey to sainthood. It thus presents in a simple and easy-to-read manner the story of one of the most important people who ever lived!
The illustrations make the book lively. There are several side-boxes and side-bars that highlight additional explanatory information. Hence, this does not break the flow of the story and at the same time gives a lot of background information that is relevant to the story. For example, in the chapter on Mother Teresa’s decision to become a nun, the side-box explains in a lucid manner the different steps involved in the process of becoming a nun. In another chapter that describes the caste-system in India, there is a diagrammatic representation of the same.
Besides the interesting trivia presented throughout the book, there is a selection of quotes and a timeline at the end, illustrations of commemorative stamps, as well as a list of resources used by the author for the well-rounded research.
In all, Puffin Books India’s Junior Lives: Mother Teresa is a great way to get young readers to know about the saint!
Puffin Books India
Author: Sonia Mehta
Illustrator: Aditya Krishnamurthy
Are you set for flights of fantasy?
Age: 9-10 years
Tilly, a seven and a half year old, is just like any other girl. But, she wants to travel back into time to her sixth birthday. And, it just so happens that her dad has made a time machine that might just make her wish come true. So, what happens when she goes back in time? She meets a really special loved one. But wait, now she is stuck there! Does that mean she’s going to be 6 forever? Will she be able to return?
What we love: We love the manner by which Tilly, despite her age, manages to overcome her fears and fight every situation that comes her way.
What kids will love: Kids will love Tilly and her Dad’s Time Machine so much that they’d feel they travelled back in time too, with the book. They will, for sure, love the imaginative spin that takes place in the story.
Age: 9 to 10 years
This is a story of two brothers; Magnificio, the greater of the Onions and Alfie, the younger of the Onions. Magnificio has set out on a journey that will win the Onions their HAPPILY EVER AFTER and Alfie has joined him to only carry his ‘baggage’, as he calls it. But, what happens when Magnificio loses his courage midway into the journey? Will Alfie be able to help him out?
What we love: We love how, even after being the younger one, Alfie motivates and keeps up Magnificio’s spirits to help him through his journey, no matter how hard it is.
What kids will love: Kids will love the meddling magpies, and the talking horse and of course, Alfie’s extremely loyal dog.
Age Group: 11 to 12-year-olds
This story is about a very confused boy, Alex, who wants to know where he’s from, what he’s supposed to do, what’s his role in the universe and where he belongs. WOW!! Now, that’s an intriguing series of questions for a little boy. How about we solve them with Alex, one by one? Alex is on a mission. He wants to send his iPod in space so that people out there won’t feel lonely and out of place. Go on an adventurous journey with him with this book!
What we love: We love Alex and we love his beautiful spirit. We love how he is always looking for answers and always trying to learn something new.
What kids will love: Kid will love Alex’s recordings and Zed, who surprisingly doesn’t talk much. Kids will absolutely love knowing all the cool stuff about space. Maybe, they’d find where they belong!
Age Group: 11 to 12-year-olds
Alex wants to be a magician and has really cool friends. Zack is a pickpocketer, Sophie’s a hypnotist and Jonny is spectacular with Science. These four, together, want to be real life magicians and have enrolled in a secret school of Magic. But, as soon as they get in, strange things begin to happen. Now, the gold from the Bank of England is stolen. What is this, really? Is it a heist? Or is it a detective story? Well, you’ll find out what it really is…
What we love: We love how the book takes us on a thrilling adventurous ride filled with magic and science and consequences, altogether.
What kids will love: Kids will love the magic spells. They’ll go bawling over the hilarious hypnotic tricks that Sophie executes like convincing her Brown Owl that all Brownies are in fact Jelly Fishes!
Well, these books are sure to take our young adults on flights of fantasy! These books are at the cusp of the world where lines between imagination and reality blur!
Writing for the tween and teen community is always a challenge, and giving tips for teenagers, that is, presenting a self-help book (read ADVICE!), is all the more difficult. With 150 Brilliant Ideas to Keep YOUNG MINDS Fit & Fine, author Neeraa Maini Srivastav has found the perfect balance between putting forward key suggestions to this age group, without sounding preachy or talking down to them.
At a very basic level, the book is a collection of tips for teenagers…simple tips that comprehensively cover three key areas in life: the mind, body and spirit. Each tip is short, concise and to the point (with snappy titles for each tip and apt illustrations that add to the fun of reading). These thoughts seed the idea of wellness in a fun and engaging way. Moreover, they are also targeted specifically at teenagers and hence cover issues that are of primary concern to them (menstruation, sex, tattoos, technology amongst many others).
At a time in society when young people are increasingly grapping with issues related to identity and fast-changing social mores, it is important for them to have something to rely on for advice and guidance. The tips presented in this book will fulfil that role to a certain extent.
The icing on the cake is probably the list of affirmations at the end of every section. There are a set of affirmations for the body, mind and spirit, and this part of the book is probably relevant across all age groups.
Anyone who has handled teenagers knows very well that moralizing does not work at all with them. It is heartening to see that the book avoids any kind of moralizing, nor does it ‘talk down’ to the reader. At the same time, the author’s belief in metaphysics and new-age spirituality gently permeates many of the tips, adding to the overall positive feel that one gets on reading it.
I would look at the book as a simple and comprehensive ready reckoner for a teenager (or parent of a teenager!) for whom holistic development and wellness is a clear goal.
Published by Pustak Mahal, 2016