School vacations have ended, but the activity that you should encourage your children to continue from vacation time, is reading. As part of Puffin Books #puffinreadinglist, I reviewed several books for children. Today, I will give you quick mini reviews on the recently released books by Indian authors for children of ages 7 and up.
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- CHAOS AT KEOLADEO BY PRIYA FONSECA, ILLUSTRATED BY ZAINAB TAMBA:
Three children accompany their wildlife conservationist uncle to Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) to look for the elusive Siberian Crane. The book recounts the fun adventures they have there.
This is a good book to instil a love of nature, birds and birding in little ones. It is well-written and easy to read. The pictures, photographs and interesting textual detailing make the book especially attractive for young minds.
It is a nature book, a children’s book and a mystery novel rolled in one- very Ruskin Bond meets ‘The Secret Seven’!
The beginning of the book is packed with information on bird names and general knowledge of nature and wildlife conservation. I feel this gets a tad boring for children, who may feel like abandoning the book before the fun mystery-solving begins in the second half. If that happens, encourage your children to keep reading because it is certainly worth getting to the end!
Aside from the small suggestions enumerated above, I highly recommend this book. It’s absolutely wonderful and will appeal to all adventurous and intelligent young minds!
- THE PUFFIN BOOK OF HOLIDAY STORIES: AN ANTHOLOGY WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY RUSKIN BOND
Vacations are undoubtedly the best part of childhood and school life. This anthology of 14 stories celebrates the joy of vacation- the two months that include family travel, spending time with friends, reading books, and enjoying delicious food without a care in the world!
I read this sweet book while on vacation with my family to Landour. The location and experience enhanced the joy of reading these lovely stories. Each story reminded me that I fell in love with reading books because they provided an escape to different worlds.
With carefully chosen themes, relatable characters, and oodles of creativity, this book will appeal to everyone. The stories teach good lessons and celebrate the joys of life in a thoroughly enjoyable manner.
My favourite stories are:
“A Ruined Holiday” by Paro Anand which talks about the wonderful relationship shared by children and their grandmothers.
“Swallowed by a Snake” by Jane De Suza which is hilariously creative.
“Crazy Uncle Ken” by Ruskin Bond which is an ode to a past era.
“The Holiday Friend” by Shabnam Minwalla which explores the beauty of childhood friendships.
“A Summer Diary” by Nandini Nayar which talks about the unique bond shared by siblings.
“Baldy Rani and the Big Red Door” by Himanjali Sankar which touches on taboo topics in a very sensitive and relatable manner.
This book is an absolute gem! I highly recommend it for children of ages 7 and up, and I feel that people of all ages will enjoy it.
- MUEZZA AND BABY JAAN BY ANITA NAIR, ILLUSTRATED BY HARSHAD MARATHE:
Prophet Mohammad’s cat, Muezza, is lost in the desert, where he meets Baby Jaan, a djinn that takes the form of a white camel. As they wait to be rescued together, the wise cat narrates stories and teachings from the Quran to the young and inquisitive djinn.
Anita Nair has chosen a wonderful subject for a children’s book. As she rightly says, most people that aren’t believers of Islam, are unaware of the teachings of this ancient and revered religion. Relating the wise tenets of Islam through stories, is the ideal way to impart knowledge while also retaining the interest of the reader.
She picks many anecdotes about animals, which will certainly appeal to all children. The reader learns the importance of mercy, peace, respect and humility, among other fine qualities.
Her book is well-written and also subtly lays emphasis on the art of storytelling as well as teaching good vocabulary.
The two protagonists, the cat and the djinn/camel, make a lovely pair. I enjoyed their chemistry, light-hearted banter and beautiful friendship far more than the Quranic stories. I hope to see them again in future books!
However, I found the narrative style slightly annoying. The Quranic stories are fluidly incorporated in the protagonists’ storyline, which breaks the flow and lets the mind drift. I found myself losing interest on a few occasions. This may have been different, had a “Vikram-Betaal” style of storytelling been established, where the protagonists make an appearance only at the beginning and end of a chapter. The illustrations are nice but I feel they don’t add to the book, and could have been done away with entirely.
Despite the slightly disconnected narrative, the book was interesting and thought-provoking. It is a wonderful way to introduce your children to a world they may know nothing about. I certainly didn’t know most of these Quranic stories, and I am glad to have read them now. The book is aimed at children above the age of 7, but people of all ages will enjoy it.
- COMING ROUND THE MOUNTAIN: IN THE YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE BY RUSKIN BOND:
I have written a full review of this book on my blog which can be read here. However, leaving a snippet of my thoughts in this post.
“Coming Round the Mountain: In the Year of Independence” is targeted at young children and pre-teens, but having devoured it in a single sitting myself, I feel that people of all ages will thoroughly enjoy it.
The book made me smile, cry and feel thoroughly nostalgic, and I’m sure it will appeal to you and your children too. Please pick this gem of a book up at the earliest- you will not regret it!
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** If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my e-book “Tales From My Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthology” which can be downloaded for FREE from here.
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