By Anuradha Varma
Is your child on a steady diet of Geronimo Stilton, Noddy, Enid Blyton and the Ladybird series, with the odd Amar Chitra Katha thrown into the mix? Here are some books by Indian authors that are immensely relatable and delightfully illustrated. Pick up these books for a child you love and he or she is sure to thank you for it!
HOW OLD IS MUTTAJI?
By Roopa Pai, Illustrated by Kaveri Gopalakrishnan
www.Storyweaver.org.in (Pratham Books) / Download for free
It’s the twins’ great-grandmother’s birthday, only they are not really sure it’s her birthday. In their indefatigable quest to find out how old Muttaji is, they have to make sense of a maze of information, such as a certain British king and queen coming to visit India around the time she was five years old. The young reader is introduced to Gandhi’s quit India speech, the time electric trains replaced steam engines, plus some mental maths to calculate Muttaji’s age! A fun read, packed with tons of general knowledge!
GANESHA’S SWEET TOOTH
By Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes
Published by Tota Books / Rs. 250
We all know Ganesha loves eating laddoos, but what happens when he gets one that’s a jawbreaker? Well, he bites into it despite Mr Mouse’s warning and breaks his tusk in two! Embarassed and angry, he tries to throw it at the moon, misses his aim and hits Vyas instead. Vyas, as we all know, was looking for him to write the Mahabharata. So, once Mr Mouse has successfully negotiated the terms of the contract, Ganesha sits down to write, armed with his broken tusk and a heap of laddoos. The graphic illustrations add character to the story; kids will have fun spotting Ganesha’s animal friends in the sketches.
By Anushka Kalro, Rajasee Ray, Sankhalina Nath, Shubhangi Goel
Tulika Books / Rs. 95
Take your toddler on a space odyssey with this simple story of Bhoomi, who’s located just the right distance from the sun and enjoys playing hide and seek with her best-friend, the Moon. Developed as a classroom project, it asks the age old question, “Is there any other planet like me, with living, breathing creatures? Pick up the book to introduce the concept of planets, the solar system and blazing comets to your child.
BOOKASURA, THE ADVENTURES OF BALA AND THE BOOK-EATING MONSTER
By Arundhati Venkatesh
Scholastic / Rs. 125
Bala makes a quick escape to his grandparents’ home, when his newborn baby sister chews up his favourite book. But, trouble follows him there as well, when a book-eating monster chomps through his favourite titles. The monster sure had good taste in books, as proved by the list at the end. Kids also learn about the mythological tale of Bakasura, after whom Bookasura is named. A delightful tale about a book-loving boy, who finally outwits the monster.
By Natasha Sharma, Illustrations by Anitha Balachandran
Young Zubaan / Rs. 195
Why would you read a book which has the yuckiest of characters? A king with no table manners meets a queen who makes a pile of her chewed up nails and, to the utter disgust of their subjects, the couple finally has a daughter who loves digging her nose. The illustrations add to the fun! And to answer the question, the kid learns to identify icky, yucky and mucky behaviour! A book that your child would definitely want to hear or read more than once…and so would you!
THE MAGIC ROLLING PIN
By Vikas Khanna
Penguin Books India, Rs. 299
When a four-year-old can recognise masterchef Vikas Khanna on television, it’s because he has read (or heard!) his book about Jugnu, the little boy who loves the smells of the kitchen. The chef-in-the-making stands guard as pickles bake in the sun, learns to put just the right amount of chilli powder and masalas in his rajma and accompanies his Biji to roll out perfect chapatis for “langar” at the Golden Temple. But then he loses his rolling pin! Eventually, he rediscovers the magic and that’s what makes this an endearing tale about a little boy who loves to cook.
By Lalita Iyer
Scholastic / Rs. 150
Lalita Iyer has lived an interesting life, full of stories that resonate with middle-class India that grew up in the Eighties. Go back to simpler times, when Nainital and not Singapore was on the wishlist of schoolkids and the only thing Mom worried about was having a place to hang a clothesline. Kids played all day, sometimes resulting in somebody swallowing a nail! The inimitable Gulzar’s endorsement at the back of the book says the author narrates the stories “with a granny’s ease”.
WE, THE CHILDREN OF INDIA…
By Leila Seth, Illustrated by Bindia Thapar
Penguin India / Rs. 175
Keep aside a Sunday to introduce your child to the Preamble to the Constitution. Simplified for young readers, Leila Seth brings alive the meaning of words like sovereign, republic, democratic and secular. Placed side by side with the original text, kids also learn about the role played by Gandhi, Nehru and Rajendra Prasad in the Constitution and freedom struggle. And did you know Britain doesn’t have a written Constitution? Look forward to finding out more stuff like this!
By Pooja Lulla, Illustrations by Archana Sreenivasan
Scholastic / Rs. 275
A delightful way to increase your child’s general knowledge with puzzles that take you around the world. Spot the differences in near identical images of Thailand’s floating market, find your way out of a maze in the island of Capri, look out for cuckoos in Germany’s Black Forest. The detailed illustrations and easy to solve puzzles make this a must-buy for your child. It’s sure to make a super birthday gift for a kid you know!
(This article was first published in the magazine Democratic World.)