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Volume 46 Number 11 November 2022
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Isn’t it so difficult to write? Have you ever seen an introduction or a preface written for a feast, or for a treasure trove for that matter? How do you introduce such things… without revealing the secrets?… without robbing the thrill of reading the original pieces?… without repeating the oft-repeated?


Editorial

We live in a country where too many of children’s realities include not having money to buy what they need, walking long distances to collect firewood, going out to fish for their evening meal, or not having a dry corner to sleep or sit in the house when it rains. These life experiences often include incidents of being displaced by those in power, or being discriminated against by the institutions that are meant to protect, like schools, police, judiciary, health services, local governments


Reviewed by: Shivani Taneja and Ragini Lalit

The idea that the child is asexual has been accepted as natural and atemporal for the entire history of modern childhood. Social and moral norms deem that not only families and child-focused institutions, but rather society at large reacts strongly to children’s participation or interest in sex. The current discourses on sexual abuse overarchingly influence family and educational practices


Reviewed by: Nidhi Gulati

There is a strange conflict in me as a queer trans writer and a queer trans reader of children’s books when I think of books I’d like to see written, published and read. As a reader, I want to see an explosion and not just a disruption. If I am allowed to dream of books, then there is no need for me to dream small. As with many of us marginalized due to the various structures of society like caste, class, language, gender, religion, region, ethnicity, ability, neuro-normativity, sexuality, to name a few, we have very little space to dream and to articulate our desires and dreams.


Reviewed by: Shals Mahajan

Meghaa Gupta

In 1984, Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister and launched a far-sighted tech policy which subsidized and allowed the liberal import of personal computers. A PC at world prices was prohibitively expensive and still out of reach for most middle-class urbanized Indians. The subsidy and easy terms for a loan allowed many to own a chunky PC and institutions also gradually started converting.


Reviewed by: Partho Dutta

Indira Ananthakrishnan

The annals of Indian history are rich and expansive, filled with the most amazing tales of both valour and idiosyncrasies. School textbooks often gloss over these incidents because it is impossible to capture all of these tales in one comprehensive text and also because textbooks need to build a cohesive narrative, a sequence which may not grasp the complicated and interlinked histories which spread across time and space


Reviewed by: Ilika Trivedi

Tilottama Shome

Open the book and you ‘see’ Shah Jahan, imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, gazing at the Taj Mahal from his prison. Reading on, and with the help of Kavita Singh Kale’s illustrations, you get pulled into the captive emperor’s thoughts and get a peep into his cherished memories. Those of the happy days spent with his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. And of the sad days too, when Mumtaz died after giving birth to their fourteenth child


Reviewed by: Andal Jagannathan

Ruskin Bond

A little book that says it all—from beautiful descriptions of Nature’s bounty, and the history of an ancient nation and its civilization—to memories, old and precious. It is only the talented Ruskin Bond who can do it.


Reviewed by: Nilima Sinha

Pervin Saket

What picture comes to your mind when you think of a scientist? Well, when children are presented with this question and asked to draw a scientist at work, more often than not, they draw an elderly or middle-aged man wearing a lab coat and spectacles, mixing chemicals in fancy glassware. Alarmingly, the proportion of children who hold such a stereotypical mental image of a scientist seems quite large: 86.5% in a study done in 1998[1] and 78% in a more recent study[2]!


Reviewed by: Aisha Kawalkar

Malala Fund

Whenever I imagine about war, images of the aftermath of war come to my mind. Everything is scattered around. I can see only those people and things that have somehow escaped from the bombings. I can see the ominous silence spread out after the heart-rending blasts. I can see the school which has nothing left now. I can see the children who had come to school with dreams in their eyes, with the belief that everything will be alright if they study.


Reviewed by: Mudit Shrivastav

Yogesh Maitreya

B.R. Ambedkar: A Life in Books, is a very imaginative and accessible introduction to one of the tallest leaders India has ever had. The book, without being pedantic, provides a young reader a bird’s eye view of life and times of Babasaheb.  It does a fabulous job of introducing young minds to difficult themes such as caste-based discrimination, equity and justice.


Reviewed by: Adnan Farooqui

The Puffin Book of 100 Extraordinary Indians, 100 inspiring stories of outstanding achievements, is a compilation of stories of different Indians across diverse fields from various eras.Arranged alphabetically, and seemingly written by different authors (no author has been credited), the book feels random.


Reviewed by: Vishesh Unni Raghunathan

Sudha Madhavan

A collection of stories with a mythological backdrop to it has the potential to attract readers from diverse age groups, especially those who have had a taste of such stories in their childhood. The stories are written in an interactive manner and the connectedness between each of them takes the reader back and forth, weaving into a universe of the epic Mahabharata and sometimes drawing from the Ramayana as well.


Reviewed by: Simran Sadh

Devdutt Pattanaik

Renowned mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik has picked seventy-two tales, mainly from India’s rich mythology, and used them as a canvas to paint 21st century on. This collection of stories originates from Patnaik’s webcast called Teatime Tales. Why did he pick 72 stories? Well, the reason lies in mythology. 72 steps, 72 hours, 72 names, 72 stupas—all these and more feature in mythology


Reviewed by: Andal Jagannathan

Priya Narayanan

This book is a collection of stories of 17 mythical beings—Asuras, Rakshasas/Rakshasis from Hindu mythology, centered around whom stories are rarely written or discussed.In Hindu mythology, devas or gods are often shown to be virtuous (even their cunningness portrayed as diplomacy and ingenuity) and thus victorious; always celebrated and glorified. Asuras and Rakshasa/rakshasis on the other hand are shown as evil, demonic figures, whose defeat at the hands of devas are symbolized as victory of good over evil.


Reviewed by: Ruchi S

Nagraj Adve

Nagaraj Adve’s Global Warming in India is a brief and practical guide that enables the reader to engage with the discussions, debates and actions about the most pressing social and moral issue before our generation. It is written with a sense of hope and compassion for the ‘ordinary people’ that is largely missing in similar and popular books, which tend to focus more on the specialist and technocratic solutions handed over from above and to which most of us are expected to assent to and participate merely as a consumer or observer.


Reviewed by: Sarthak

Amirtharaj Christy Williams

Picking up the book—the name made me wonder how an elephant in Rajaji National Park, far removed from the southern kingdom of Mysore got the name Tipu, fondly called Sultan of the Siwaliks. Amirtharaj Christy Williams’ memoir has the answer, and more! Elephant naming anecdotes abound.An insightful Foreword by Prerna Singh Bindra, India’s leading environmental journalist, tells how Williams makes a case for the Asian elephants, remarkable animals fighting a losing battle as forests get rapidly cleared for human use.


Reviewed by: Shailaja Srinivasan

Prerana Singh Bindra

Have you ever wondered why we feel scared or become very excited when we hear about forests? Being born and brought up in metropolitan cities like Delhi, most of my understanding about forests comes from school books and they have usually portrayed forests as dangerous places.


Reviewed by: Shivam

Karthika Lakshmi M

Karthika Lakshmi’s So Shall You Reap was one of two prize winning entries in CBT’s Realistic Fiction category in the 20th Competition for Writers of Children’s Books organized in 2019. The story is about an expedition by students from across India to deposit seed samples in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, with narrative conflict introduced through ‘vested interests’ who seek to replace the indigenous seed varieties with genetically modified ones.


Reviewed by: TCA Avni

Sultan Ahmed Ismail

Our Wiggly Friends, Earthworms is a small book of 32 pages. The book can be divided into two major parts; the first and the main part of the book provides various details about earthworms while the second part focuses on the role that earthworms play for soil, and introduces the readers to vermiculture (artificial rearing of earthworms).


Reviewed by: Rajni Dwivedi

Neeraj Wagholikar

In our country, there are many huge multipurpose hydroelectricity (hydel) projects. These projects involve construction of dams, resulting in huge swathes of waterbodies called backwaters. These backwaters are not just used for electricity generation but are also a direct source for agricultural irrigation, industrial water supply, freshwater pisciculture and drinking purposes. Additionally, these can contribute indirectly to GDP as they can be turned into sites of tourist attraction.


Reviewed by: Sanket Raut

Tanya Majmudar and Sujatha Padmanabhan

India is a country blessed with rich biodiversity. It also is a nation developing at a great pace, locking horns with many other powerful global economies. But we need to keep in mind that development too, comes at a price. If development is not holistic and just anthropocentric, it doesn’t take long for the environment to collapse on itself. Unfortunately, most of the world is facing these after-effects of anthropocentric development.


Reviewed by: Sanket Raut

Sanjay Sondhi

We are not alone in this world. We are surrounded by different kinds of living beings and trees and plants. There is no place near or far from us where these living beings do not exist. A dark corner of the house, a wall, even the bark of trees, are home to many living things. And not only bark, even the leaves of trees are home to many different kinds of life-forms. There are eggs stuck on somewhere, and at other places you have caterpillars chomping on them!


Reviewed by: Kishore Pawar

Sundar Sarukkai

In most countries, philosophy as a subject of study is open to students only at the undergraduate level. However, in the last four decades or so, many have argued that there is a dire need to introduce philosophy to students at a much earlier stage, preferably from middle school years onward. According to the proponents of this view, introducing philosophy at this age enables students to critically engage with what they learn and experience, both in school and outside.


Reviewed by: Radhika Chhaparia

Chitwan Mittal and Shruti Hemani

This book is a canvas of emotions that all age groups paint in their minds every day. For children it is like a picture dictionary where they can identify if unable to express in words as to how they are feeling at a given point of time. The pages take the young readers on a roller coaster ride of happiness, to frowns and smiles, fear and dare, triumph and the importance of living each day looking at the brighter side of the world.


Reviewed by: Shubhra Seth

J Krishnamurthy

This happened a few days ago. A new-born calf strayed into our lane. Tender, delicate. Such beautiful bright eyes. Tottering in the lane she mooed so loud that quite a few people came out of their houses. The calf continued to call, looking this way and that. Gradually more and more people gathered. They surrounded her. Someone opened their garden gate. People took her inside with care.


Reviewed by: Shashi Sablok

Yemuna Sunny

This booklet about Karnataka comes as a new addition to the ongoing Nature-Society Series authored by Yemuna Sunny, which finds ways to think in innovative and imaginative ways about maps. With its striking sketch map and detailed artwork by Trripurari Singh, the book engages with socio-spatial transformations and seeks to converge ‘cartography and art, nature and society, information and criticality, map and text, and knowledge and change’ in the words of the author. 


Reviewed by: Ragini Lalit

Yemuna Sunny

This slim book packs a lot of interesting information facts and figures about Andaman and Nicobar, Union Territory of India. Located in the Bay of Bengal with close proximity to Indonesia and Myanmar, these 572 islands (of which only 36 are inhabited) are very strategic for India’s maritime interest. The relatively untouched beauty of the islands are increasingly facing the twin threats of growing commercialization and large infrastructure projects


Reviewed by: Bharat Kidambi

Ramu Velar

Tara Books is doing something fantastic. In its Makers series, it is bringing us the voices of craftspeople and folk artists, traditionally anonymous and unheard.  I raved about their previous book on the Gond painters of Patangarh and their work, and now here is a new one, A Potter’s Tale, on Ramu Velar, a master potter from Tamil Nadu.


Reviewed by: Laila Tyabji

Seema Chari

Better safe than sorry.’ A quote told to all in their childhood and one that stays relevant to this date. As the title suggests, the premise of the book revolves around this quote. Comprising 240 pages and ten sections, the book covers various topics from fire to the internet. A type of instructional book, it gives a guide to staying safe in daily life.


Reviewed by: Aditya Karnik

Charudatta Navare

Writing a non-fiction comic book for children on a rapidly developing area in science with many unknowns, is a major challenge. Charudatta Navare and Reshma Barve have done a remarkably good job of it. Andekhe Humsafar is a Hindi translation of the original A Germ of an Idea. While the author has used his biology background as a great strength, Barve’s contribution as an artist is equally important to convey the complex scientific concepts with the help of illustrations.


Reviewed by: Vineeta Bal

Priya Narayanan

The crux of the story is that the sun is up in the sky and why is Amma still sleeping?From one stand-point, this is a very small, simple story that tries to capture a very small slice of time-frame and space. But if you read it again after a while, some hazy images start emerging in your mind.


Reviewed by: Seema

Canato Jimo

Picture books, as a genre, are helpful in the early stages of reading. True to its genre, the book, I Love Grey, with its full page and sometimes double-spread illustrations and short sentences, gives ample space for imagination and reading practice. The text is simple, with some repetition—the phrase, ‘I love’—appears on each page, qualifying it further for a beginner’s reading book.


Reviewed by: Shivani Bajaj

Richa Jha

Duster is about a dog who is not really a dog. Or is he a dog but no one believes so? Duster likes things that a cat likes and he dislikes things that a dog is supposed to like. His human is disappointed in him for not behaving like a dog.


Reviewed by: Deepti Saini

Rachna Chhabria

In the first read, The Giggling Girl felt like a simple story with 6-year-old Gargi giggling through various happenings around her, through the seasons, through the year. Over a day or two, the story stayed and kept gnawing at me. I wondered if these giggles could or should be taken so innocently. I decided to take the story to a group of children who were in the age of 7 to 12 years old and see their response.


Reviewed by: Shivani Taneja

Shruti Rao

Every year, as I see the big black ants in my kitchen and garden, it is a signal that it is going to rain. I feel happy about the heralding monsoon. I enjoy watching them walking silently one behind the other gathering food or dragging a dead insect from one place to another. At the same time, I shudder at the thought of scores of them gathering on my kitchen platform.


Reviewed by: Anu Gupta

Pankaj Saikia

The title of the book is interesting in the sense that it gives you a chance to guess who is Number 5. Is it an animal? A bird? The illustration of little children on the cover page and their expressions tell us that they are looking for something. The trees around them suggest that they are in a forest.


Reviewed by: Deepali Shukla

Pankaj Saikia

A bunch of children who are travelling to see a performance are the focus of the narrative in Pankaj Saikia’s The Theatre of Ghosts. It starts with two young girls leaving their house with their pet dog. The girls and their dog think they glimpse a ghost on their route and are scared by it. Later on, we discover that the ghost was only a little child wearing a mask.


Reviewed by: Ritika Gour

Benita Sen

This picture book tells a village story about a kind, prosperous family that helps a farmer protect his harvest by making a scarecrow. Bhola, a farmer, approaches the grandfather of the family he sells his harvest to every year. He cries out for help to prevent the crows from eating the harvest. How can crows ruin the crop? From grandfather to grandson, every family member marches up to Bhola’s farm to investigate the matter.


Reviewed by: Nidhi Gaur

Manjari Chakravarti

The cover of this book invites you to look deep. It feels as if you are standing in a well and looking above at all the people standing there! The people—young and old—are all staring down at you with surprise.The story revolves around a cat, but along with the cat, humans play an important role in it.


Reviewed by: Indu Nair

Sushil Shukla
AMMA
2022

Let’s begin by saying that the idea of this book is a ‘found’ one and that the content highlights one of the most common experiences of childhood. Almost all of us have childhood memories of being lost in a mela: letting go of a parent’s hand and running after one or another compelling game or toy can cost a child dear.


Reviewed by: Teji Grover

Anjeev Anjum

Anjeev Anjum spins an endearing story about a copycat Lion, King of the Jungle, who wishes to assert his lordship over his subjects in the jungle just like the King of the land does over his subjects.


Reviewed by: Rina Goel

Reena I Puri

Alien visit, suspense, adventure and some life lessons… a cracker of a book that will enthral any youngster!The names of the characters in this beautifully illustrated, colourful book are as catchy as the story. Ma-Cluck and K-Chick are visiting Earth from their Galaxy ‘Scrambled’.


Reviewed by: Asha Sharma

Let us talk about what big books are. These are large picture-books designed to be shared with young readers by adults around them. By and large they are for pre-primary and primary aged children who are just beginning to enter the world of written texts.How do we use big books? The recommended format is to conduct ‘shared reading’ with children.


Reviewed by: Shailaja Menon

Thirteen years ago, a friend brought to my attention a series of reading cards published by Pratham. ‘You must have these in your school library,’ he had insisted and proceeded to procure them for us. I must admit that I was not greatly impressed with these cards, or I should say, the idea of reading cards. I am an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction and wrinkled my nose at the cards as a substitute for books.


Reviewed by: Manjiri Nimbkar

Anushka Ravishankar

A richly illustrated children’s book written in simple, rhyming verses, A Rooster for a Pet is about a rambunctious rooster who turns the life of the author upside down. Bought by the author’s father, the cuddly ball of fluff soon grows to be a menace in the household, fluttering about the house, getting onto furniture and appliances,


Reviewed by: TCA Avni

Benita Sen

Reading aloud is one of the earliest means by which we share stories with young children and try to inculcate the habit of reading in them. Hearing a story which captures the imagination, provides enjoyment and introduces different emotions and situations and also creates a connection between the adult and the child being read to.


Reviewed by: Ranjana Kaul

Atanu Roy

टका सा जवाब देना, टके का सब खेल है, टका सा मुंह लेकर रह जाना, सौ टके की बात है—these are some of the instances where one experiences the use of the word ‘taka’ or ‘takey’. Children who are immersed in the English language may not even have used or heard this word before.


Reviewed by: Manoj Nigam

Shriprasad

Shriprasad (1932-2012), one of the founders of children’s literature in Hindi, is known for writing the most musical and rhythmic poetry for children; his entire oeuvre being a veritable feast of sounds to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. In many of his poems, there’s also an element of ‘nonsense’ which in fact, at times, has layers of meaning and borders on the fantastic.


Reviewed by: Teji Grover

Rajiv Eipe
DUGGA
2022

When an author is also an illustrator, or an illustrator also writes stories, and she or he conceives a book that takes shape—then the magic that happens is what you can see in Rajiv Eipe’s Dugga!Dugga is a wordless picture book, or a pure picture storybook. The cover shows the image of a fox-like dog.


Reviewed by: Parul Batra Duggal