There are books, and there are quick-reads, as my schoolboys call them. Lavanya Raghunathan Fischer’s first work of fiction definitely belongs to the former category: it has to be read with time on your hand, a fully-charged attention span (no weak battery will process this), and patience to connect the very many dots that flow out of the author’s tropical imagination. No 45 minute skim read is ever going to do justice to this unusual offering, from a ‘lawyer who moonlights as a philosopher’, as the book introduces her.

In terms of publishing, the most interesting thing about Pishi Caught in a Storm is that the story was inspired by an entry to an illustration competition that Pratham Books held. The fact around which this book is woven is that manta rays visit so-called cleaning stations, where small fish eat parasites and dead tissue off their bodies. This information is provided in a note at the end of the book, and it sets your spine tingling, especially when you remember that it was a manta ray that killed the charismatic Australian television personality and conservationist Steve Irwin, also known as ‘the crocodile hunter’.

It’s nice to know that India has finally woken up to the concept of original graphic novels—imagine what a story does to a kid’s mind when it is packaged along with whimsical sketches in vivid colours? In Mara And The Clay Cows author and illustrator Parismita Singh takes the reader to an unusual, magical territory of North Eastern India where an orphaned boy called Mara lives.

As early as July every year, The Book Review starts receiving books for the November issue. Among the multitudes of bright, cheerful little publications aimed at exploring the realms of fantasy and distant lands, lives of animals, plants and birds, and inculcating values about social service, My Little Body Book stands out, as one that talks about the importance of taking care of our bodies.

For many years my children looked after stray dogs in the colony, feeding them when pregnant or lactating, taking injured ones to the vet, getting a couple ligated and rabies-shot. Then we moved, and a family of stray cats adopted us, including eventually a three day old, still blind, tabby whose mother was killed by dogs, and who survived because of my daughter’s sheer persistence. Naturally, our perspective became more feline than canine.

Anand is a fastidious, book-ish 11 yearold who likes learning new words from his thesaurus and prefers living his life in an ordered and disciplined fashion—just the wrong sort of child to be saddled with bohemian parents who live life casually and think nothing of going on impromptu trips to weird places! His parents are at it again, and this time they have dragged him along to visit a friend who lives in the crumbling old mansion of his dacoit ancestors. The house comes replete with hidden passages, overgrown grounds and a tantalizing story of hidden treasure!

Once upon a time Sonabai built a house, far, far away in the remote Puhphutara village of Madhya Pradesh’s Sarguja district. She lived with her husband, Holi Ram and their young son, Babu (Daroga Ram). Holi Ram spent most of the day working in the paddy fields; no one came to visit Sonabai nor did she go out. She was virtually alone, until one day, near the well, she saw some ‘squishy clay’.

Did you know that a Dodo tastes absolutely horrible? I didn’t, until I read this hilarious, racy, a-thrill-a-minute careening adventure of three agents of the Animal Intelligence Agency. The eye catching cover by Priya Kuriyan shows you an impossibly cute Dodo, three agents in the line of fire against telltale skylines, along with a firm declaration: SAVE THE ANIMALS. SAVE THE WORLD!