A thriller for young adults, mixed with a historical side of Bombay…Clues in the city’s architecture, tied to a deeply buried secret from the past- a secret for which one can kill. Not once, but many times over. What Maya Saw by Shabnam Minwalla is an exciting thriller for young adults. The tale promises to keep the reader on the edge!
The protagonist, Maya, is an intelligent ‘geek’ who joins a summer school course on the history of Bombay at the renowned St. Paul’s College, which is a fictional version of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
The setting of St. Paul’s College with its gothic architecture and centuries old building seems perfect for the story that plays out. Maya discovers that she has a strange gift- she can actually see people known as ‘shadows’ who seem to be hell-bent on obtaining a secret that has been preserved for years. This ‘secret’ has to be protected from the evil shadows, who will do anything to get it.
Can Maya fight the shadows and outwit them? The journey is filled with danger. She has to enlist the support of friends. But, who can she trust and who should she be wary of? And, all along she needs to solve strange clues that lead her to the history of Bombay itself.
The story moves fast keeping the reader guessing and eager. The satirical humour used in the book will certainly appeal to young adults. This thriller for young adults is a sure page turner!
Bookedforlife chats with author Shabnam Minwalla to reveal a bit more about the book…
There are a lot of facts about Bombay presented in the book. What kind of research did you do for the same?
For ten years I was a journalist with the Times of India, and covered city news. During those years I crisscrossed the city and saw little details- statues, trees, buildings, streets, and heard stories that stayed with me.
When I started writing What Maya Saw, I was clear that I wanted to incorporate a clue hunt through the city. So I read a few books on local history and made a long, long, long list of possible clues. Sadly, very few of these clues made it to the book. Also, as the past is a very important element in this story, I looked at lots of old photographs and read old newspapers to get a feeling for the city that once was.
The setting for the story is St. Xavier’s College, your alma mater…what made you zero down on this institute?
In 2009, St Xavier’s approached me and asked me to write the text for a coffee table book on the college. So I was lucky enough to go back to Xavier’s and see it through fresh eyes. I spent hours and hours in the glorious, golden library doing research for the book. One afternoon, I was almost alone in the library, when I looked up and thought I saw a girl with horns coming out of her head.
It was a trick of light. But for years I wondered, what if it had really been a girl with horns coming out of her head? What Maya Saw began with that moment — and that question.
What is your next project?
I have written a hOle Book for Duckbill, my third book for them, about a friendship across a wall. Jiya lives in one of those gated communities in Parel. Urmila lives in a basti on the other side of the gate. One day the girls meet and join hands to battle a common enemy. And, they realise that they quite like each other.
I am also writing a three-part middle school series featuring a girl named Nimmi Daruwala. The books tackle all the inevitable issues — best friends who turn mean, nasty teachers, fitting in, not fitting in…After that, I want to write a horror book!
Well, that’s a heady mix for sure! But for now, we’re sure readers will cherish this delightful thriller for young adults – What Maya Saw.
Title: What Maya Saw
Author: Shabnam Minwalla
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2017
Genre: Young adult/ Suspense
Age group: 13 onwards
Mathematics can be very cool. But, if you’re got a set of math techniques up your sleeve, that can be supercool and impressive. Yes, even in this day of calculators and computers, math prowess does score points! Maths Sutras from around the World: Speed Calculations on your fingertips by Gaurav Tekriwal takes a shot at bringing some marvellous math techniques from around the world.
A mathematical world
Have you ever spared a thought as to how exactly math is taught in different countries? Tekriwal has explored and studied math systems world over. He picks out the best amongst the lot and presents a fairly diverse range of math techniques drawn from different cultures.
The concepts of Indian Vedic Mathematics have been given key importance. The bar modelling technique from Singapore is another system that the author talks about. Then, there is the famous Japanese grid puzzle culture (think Sudoku!) that finds expression in the book through the description of Kakuro and KenKen puzzles.
The book has ten chapters covering different math concepts through specific and well-researched math techniques.
Turning conventional math over
I always thought that addition and subtraction are only done right to left. However, the chapter on Addition highlights a left-right method of mentally adding large numbers! The Super subtraction method described in the book also does likewise. He describes the Base Method of Multiplication derived from teachings of the Indian saint Tirthaji in the early twentieth century. Besides the four basic computational skills the book also tackles word problems, fractions, squares, percentages, square roots and times tables.
This adage is probably most true for mathematics! The book has numerous activities and worksheets for all the concepts and techniques described.
Yes, this is a book about math, but do look out for some interesting stories inside as well! Wherever relevant, Tekriwal has included some interesting stories and facts related to the mathematical concept. For instance, I found the story of Jakow Tractenberg who built a new system of mental arithmetic whilst at Hitler’s concentration camp quite inspiring!
Age no bar
While this book is primarily addressed to school going math learners, it would be of interest to anyone interested in mental arithmetic.
With gadgets at our finger tips, many people actually wonder at the relevance of mental calculations. As the author describe in the book, the brain behaves exactly like a muscle. It needs regular exercise. Besides impressing people with your skills, metal math prowess lead to a sharper mind and better logical reasoning skills! So, it’s time to sit back and let these Math techniques work up some mathe-magic!
Good financial habits, like most good habits are rooted in childhood. Unfortunately, teaching children about money is not something that all of us do consciously in an organized manner. We may take financial literacy for granted, but we live in a consumerist and unsure world where it is important to be equipped with sound financial skills.
How much does your child know about money? My first book of money by Ravi Subramanian and Shoma Narayanan talks about money specifically in the Indian context. In short, look at it like a sort of guide to financial literacy for children.
The money story
The authors approach the task of dispelling financial knowledge in a manner that children connect to the most – a story. So here’s the way the narrative progresses- twins Aman and Anya are visiting their grandparents. A small incident related to paying the milkman sparks off a discussion on money.
From barter to digitalization
The book starts with explaining the concept of barter system and the evolution of money. It ends with the idea of digitalization. Well, the rest of the book contains everything in between!
Values and practicality
As the story progresses one can see that the information about money is either linked to ‘values’ or ‘facts’. This balance is really important. After all, what’s the sense in having knowledge if one can’t use it in the right way?
Some of the value based concepts the book purports include judging how much money one really needs, the difference between needs and wants, the importance of planning expenditures, not spending more than you have and setting money aside for charity.
Of course, the practical knowledge expressed in the book is vast and some of the key points include knowing about the concepts of banking, ATM, banking transactions, currency exchanges, loans and savings, deposits, credit cards, investments, interest and so on. There is an entire chapter devoted to demonetization and mobile wallets. The chapter on inflation and investment simplifies these concepts for children and teenagers.
Ready for some Financial exercises?
Teaching children about money must entail practical experience. At the end of each chapter there is a well thought-out exercise which reinforces the concept illuminated in the chapter. This exercise is best carried out with an adult in tow!
When it comes to the story of money and its evolution there are some pretty interesting facts to share. The book has these facts neatly boxed and these make for some interesting side reading as well.
There are some vivid illustrations by Bombay Design House that add to the element of interest.
The book is aimed at the 9 – 14 age group. However, in order to make it an interactive experience, we feel it’s best read with an adult. If you’re looking at teaching children about money, this book is an apt start.
Title: My first book of money
Authors: Ravi Subramanian and Shoma Narayanan
Reading level: 9 – 14 years
Publisher: Penguin Random House India, 2017
Starr, the young black protagonist of The Hate U Give is just a normal teenager. But, one event changes her life completely. A white police officer shoots her unarmed best friend. Following his death, Starr struggles to come to grips with the situation.
She is torn between two realities- the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered with this fatal shooting. Starr has been aware of these kind of radicalized killings. But, they always happened to someone else. Now, it has happened to her best friend.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.
That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?
She is drawn towards activism and wants to make her voice heard. But that’s no easy path either.
Intentions always look better on paper than in reality. The reality is, I may not make it to the courthouse in the morning.
The debut young adult novel is a timely look at some realities of our world right now- of which teenagers are very much a part of.
The beautiful relationship that Starr shares with each of her family members is also a running thread in the story. How they help her deal with the scenario in their own ways, is also a touching portrayal of family, and the role that family members play in our lives, no matter how flawed they may be.
This is a poignant story that deals with a conflict faced by a young teenager, in a social setting that young adults all over the world can identify with. Even if the incidents described in The Hate U Give happened in the USA, thematically and emotionally it is a novel that will connect with all people across cultures and social scenarios. In my opinion, it is a book that adults would love to read as well!
The Hate U Give, a National Book Award Longlist title is one book that lives up to the hype!
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
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’.
Click below to visit the Enchantico website:
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)