August 29, 2014

The Giving Tree

On my last visit to the local bookstore, I picked up a book from the shelf marked 'Inspirational'.  
Hardbound, green in color with a sketch of a tree, apple and a child on the cover - looked more like a children's picture book. But why was it in the 'Inspirational' shelf ? I wondered.
I settled down with the book in one of the many 'moorahs' that careless lie around in the store.Reading it did not take much time. But I did sit there for quite sometime contemplating... questioning our attitude towards Mother Earth, our  short sightedness and our unending ' I want's..
What a wonderful way of telling the children and at the same time, reminding us adults to love and take care of our beautiful Mother Earth.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein 
Quoting a few paragraphs from the book :
"Once there was a tree…… And she loved a little boy. And every day the boy would come And he would gather her leaves And make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk And swing from her branches And when he was tired,he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree…..Very much..And the tree was happy."

As time went by the boy grew older and his visits  and love for the tree grew less. He no longer played on the tree branches, he started to WANT...fruits to sell, branches to make house and so on...
"And after a long time the boy came back again.–“I am sorry, Boy,”said the tree, “but I have nothing left to give you— My apples are gone.” –“My teeth are too weak for apple,”said the boy.–“My branches are gone,” said the tree.”You cannot swing on them—”–"I am too old to swing on branches” said the boy. –“My trunk is gone,” said the tree.“You cannot climb—-” –”I am too tired to climb,” said the boy.–“I am sorry” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump.
I am sorry…” –”I don’t need very much now” said the boy. “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired” –“Well” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down…and rest.”

Add this wonderful, thought provoking book to your 'Must Read ' list ...Spread the word ...

The actual 1973 'Giving Tree' movie  in the voice of Shel Silverstein is   available on youtube.
The book is available in Flipkart, India as well.
Age group :  can be read to kids as young as  3 years, revisit when they can read on their own again, read it whenever you need to stress on"  recycle, reduce and reuse" mantra.

For more , read The Giving Tree - Wikipedia.

August 27, 2014

The Story of FERDINAND

“Books can make a difference in dispelling prejudice and building community: not with role models and recipes, not with noble messages about the human family, but with enthralling stories that make us imagine the lives of others. A good story lets you know people as individuals in all their particularity and conflict; and once you see someone as a person—flawed, complex, striving—you’ve reached beyond stereotype.”  ― Hazel Rochman
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf  and illustrated by Robert Lawson conveys the above-mentioned message beautifully.
Ferdinand , is a bull from  Spain. Unlike other bulls,he does not like to fight  or butt his head  or stick other bulls with his horns. He does not dream of being picked to fight at the  bullfights in Madrid. He prefers sitting quietly under the cork tree and enjoy the smell of flowers. His DIFFERENT behavior and preference worries his mother. However, she realises that Ferdinand enjoys his quiet moments and lets him sit there and be happy.After some years, due to an unexpected, highly dramatic event, Ferdinand  gets the reputation of being the fiercest bull in Spain and is selected to fight at a bullfight at Madrid.
What does Ferdinand do in the bullfight arena ? Do the Banderillos, Picadores and the Matador manage to make Ferdinand snort, butt and stick his horns?
Tonight, I'll read The Story of Ferdinand to him. I want Junior to feel secure, understand that it's Okay to be just yourself.
I'm also expecting a discussion on bullfighting, tonight. Junior, is bound to have many question about the sport and the blood bath involved. Personally, I find the tradition cruel and wish this abomination ends soon.
The Story of Ferdinand - Wikipedia gives an interesting insight into the story, its  political relevance, the subsequent film adaptations.
This picture book is suitable for Early readers age group - 5 to 7 years. 

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Is your little one in love ♥ ♥ ♥ with crayons ?
Are the walls of your house, now, canvas for your budding artist ?
Does your little one have a favorite color ?........G-E-R-EEE-N or BU-LOOO...

Harold loves his Purple Crayon. One evening he decides to go for a walk in the moon light. He draws anything that he thinks 'needs to happen' with his Purple Crayon.
He draws the moon and a straight road to follow and sets off on his adventurous journey.  He draws  what he desires and sometimes falls in difficult situations. He is a smart child and  draws his way out. When Harold found himself drowning in the ocean, he quickly drew a boat, climbed on it and sailed off.
He comes across a forest, is frightened by a dragon,  enjoys a picnic on the beach and has many more adventures before he returns home and falls asleep.
This book is a wonderful way of exploring the powers of imagination, quick thinking and perseverance. It encourages the child to think creatively when faced with problems.
Age Group : Early readers, 4 to 6 years
After reading the book, there are a lot of parent- child activities that you can do with your child.
  • When you are stuck in the traffic, next time, you can ask your child what Harold would draw to help  you out of the situation. Hopefully,  you can  avoid the usual - "why is the car not moving, Mom ????" question  by doing this :)
  • On a big drawing paper both of you can take turns to draw. Say, you draw a mountain,"It is the highest mountain in the world". Your child adds some more details.He draws a boy with a bag pack "This is me, I want to climb it".  Go on and spin an amazing story together !!!
What is your child's favorite color ?

August 24, 2014

Room on the Broom

Forget the old ,wicked witches from Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Welcome the friendly, kind hearted witch from Room on the Broom.
One day, while the good natured witch and her cat are flying through the night they are hit by gusty winds. The scatty witch keeps losing most of her possessions -her hat, bow and wand.  She meets various animals - a dog, a parrot and a frog who help her find her lost things. In return, they ask for a spot on her broomstick which she willingly agrees to give.
However, the broom soon breaks under the weight of its passengers and disaster strikes !!The witch is at the risk of becoming dinner for a fire spitting dragon....
This fun picture book is a great 'Read Aloud!' for the little ones. It has  rhythm and repetition. The Early Readers ( 4 to 7 years)  will enjoy reading it too.The clever use of words, help add new words and their usage to their growing vocabulary.
It's excellent for a group reading activity as well. Each member can pretend to be one of the characters and modulate his voice and add expression while he reads his part. Expect lots of croaks and woofs and purrs.... :)
Interesting use of words to describe the characters and situations makes the story very engaging. My favorite part is
The colorful and vibrant illustration captures the attention of the audience right from the start.
Through this fun story the children learn to appreciate the importance of friendship and sticking together in time of need. They sense if you treat others well, others will treat you well too.
Room on the Broom is one of Julia Donaldson's best sellers. She is one of UK's most popular children's author. Some of her award winning works are GruffaloRunning on the cracks novel for teenagers, the Princess Mirror-Belle stories and The Giants and the Joneses.
 Gruffalo and Stick Man are some of his other award winning works.Axel is the illustrator of Royal Mail’s official Christmas stamps 2012 too.              
Alex Scheffler's  amazing illustrations have won worldwide acclaim. 
Visit  for more. It is packed with activities for kids, apps, DVD and 'Room on the Broom' merchandise.
Whoosh !!!  Go ahead and enjoy the magical journey........
Board book, easy to hold and carry for children, Glossy pages.
Available in Amazon and Flipkart.                                                                                                                                       

August 19, 2014


" Prepare to be keelhauled, you scurvy dogs", shouted the pirates.
"Let us now sacrifice them both to great Splod !" shouted the people with shiny black hair."They stole my eye! Twice !" rumbled mighty Splod."Ve vant those willains and warmints wiolently vound up,"proclaimed a tall lady wumpire with long fingernails.The piranhas said nothing, but they thrashed about in their bowl, ominously.
"Doomed", moaned Professor Steg. "We cannot escape.They have frozen us in time and depowered us, Even my mighty Time Machine can do no more......
Of late, I have been reading a lot of books for children. Books where friends/brothers - sisters go on adventures, explore and discover the world around them or go to far off lands. Then there are some where animals and birds talk and behave like us humans and tell their story.

 'FORTUNATELY, THE MILK...' by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell is different. It is a delightful story of a father who goes to fetch milk from the corner store, for his kids and returns to tell  them the weirdest of adventure he went on whilst on his way back home.
Yes !!! it's about DAD's adventure told in the voice of his son. It has time travel, aliens, dinosaurs, vampires,pirates, volcano, hot air balloons.
Dad is kidnapped by Aliens.In an attempt to escape from their clutches, he opens the wrong door  and lets the Time-Space Continuum in.
Had it not been for Professor Steg, a learned Stegosaurus and inventor, in his 'Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier', he would have been eaten by sharks, sacrificed to Splod the volcano God, ended up as meal for the vampires.
Here, the Tyrannosaurus rex, Pteranodon,Ankylosaurus,Diplodocus are not creating havoc but are the Galactic Police, saving people all over the Universe and riding fast space bikes.
Through this whirlwind adventure, Dad manages to protect and hold on to the milk carton, uses it to scare the aliens and finally brings it safely home to his son and daughter.
'FORTUNATELY, THE MILK...' is an extremely exciting and enjoyable read. I would recommend it to young readers, 8 years and above. Before the child starts reading the book, a little talk about time travel and time machine would be great. For readers, who are reading time-travel fiction for the first time, it might be a bit confusing to understand the frequent shift of frames.Enquiring about the story on and off, occasionally reading it together will add to the fun. All through the story, the brother and sister keep asking their Dad probing questions about his adventure. It encourages kids to be curious and ask questions.
For kids who love dinosaurs, it is a bonus.
The illustrations are fabulous.
 It is funny, entertaining little read.
Available in Flipkart and Amazon.

August 18, 2014

Llama Llama Misses Mama

First day of School is an important day in the life of our little ones. As parents we go through a mix of emotions - will he cry? will he miss me? will the teachers understand what he wants to say?...For the child, I think ,initially, he is more interested in the paraphernalia - new school bag, snack box and water bottle. The concept of school hits him once he has to leave his parents and walk into the school without Mama or Papa.
The challenge begins the next morning - refusing to get dressed for school, crying as soon as the car parks near the school gate, clinging to Mama/Papa as the teacher tries to take him in....
To beat the 'First Time to School' blues try Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney. It is available in Amazon in all forms - Kindle, hardcover, paperback, audio CD and audible book.
 But I found it in a wonderful site We Give Books all for free !!!
The book is about a Llama's first day at school. His Mama wakes him up, gets him ready and rushes to school as they are getting late.( something that happens in my home almost every morning) At school he is introduced to his new teacher and new friends and soon it's time to kiss Mama Goodbye.

THE CAR BOOK : The Definitive Visual History

If you are looking for a book to gift to your son, whose toy cupboard is full of cars small and big, spic and span or in run down condition with broken doors or missing wheel, who prefers drawing cars and buses to mountain- rising sun-flowing river scenery, who can tell you the name of every car that just zipped past yours, I have a wonderful suggestion.

THE CAR BOOK – The Definitive Visual History

Publisher - Dorling Kindersley Publishing
It traces the history of cars right from 1880’s to 2010. It starts with the steam powered vintage cars and ends with future cars. It has information on more than 1200 cars- vintage, luxury, sports and many more.

Oxford Reading Tree - Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper series

Children have a special bond with their grandparents. I often listen to the animated discussions that Junior has with his Grandma. They have a world of their own with imaginary friends, frequent space and time travel and customized vehicles. Biff, Chip and Kipper are always a part of their adventure.
Biff, Chip, Kipper ….WHO? I have often had to answer my friends and family who chanced to overhear Junior- Grandma’s  flights of fantasy.