September 24, 2014

The Mouse And The Motorcycle

" Now come on. Tell me, did you or didn't you ride my motorcycle off the bedside table ?"
This took Ralph by surprise. He had not expected the boy to guess what happened.
" Well, yes. I guess you might say I did," confessed Ralph, rubbing his aching muscles.
"I thought so," neither the mouse nor the boy was the least bit surprised that each could understand the other. Two creatures who shared a love for motorcycles naturally spoke the same language.

This marked the beginning of a wonderful friendship between an adventurous mouse named Ralph and a boy named Keith. They met when Keith and his family decided to stay in an old motel in the California foothills for a vacation. Ralph's family ( mother and siblings) and extended family ( countless Uncles and Aunts) lived in the mouse holes and knot holes of this motel and survived on the crumbs guest left in their rooms.
Ralph was not an average mouse,nervous and scared. Per his worried mother, he was ' a reckless mouse' who loved to stay out late in the daytime when he should be sleeping safely at home.
'Pb-bb-bb' 'Pb-bb-bb' that's how you start a toy motorcycle, Keith taught Ralph. The little mouse went zooming around in the motel.
The story is a very engaging one. Readers will love to roam the corridors of the motel along with Ralph.At times, it also takes readers to mouse world where a mouse house is furnished with a clutter of things - bits of Kleenex, hair and raveling people drop on the motel floor. 
The story has it's share of climax too. Ralph like a real hero, saves himself from near death situation when he lands up in a laundry pile. He like a true friend, risks his and his families life to help his friend Keith.
As a Mom, I loved what Keith had to say when Ralph asked him if he was mad at him for losing the motorcycle.

"I guess you might say I'm mad but not real mad,"Keith decided. " I've been lying here thinking. It wouldn't be right for me to be real mad, because I get into messes myself. My mom and dad tell me I don't stop to use my head."

Wow ! it takes courage to own up that even we make similar mistakes and therefore, be kind to the offender.

A enjoyable read for readers aged 7 and above. Paper back, 184 pages.

September 20, 2014


Yesterday night, the sound of rain made me happy .The morning was unusually pleasant and breezy, I walked out with my tea and noticed….I had visitors.I was greeted by not one, not two but an unending queue of black ants marching into my house.

The ants go marching
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah,hurrah
The ants go marching one by one hurrah, hurrah
 The ants go marching right past the flower pots, the door, into the kitchen ….Now, that’s not a visit but an INVASION in broad daylight, I realise.

Hold on, where is Junior ?... We find him is in his room,  sitting on the bed holding the jars of M & M close to his chest… "Ma, will the ants eat my M & M ? Will they eat me too "

Author – Kuntie Ramdat Balkaran –her story 'A pot of money for hard  times ' was the 2000 winner of a Canadian Writing for Children Competition.
Illustration – Sunandini Basu
Publishers –Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd
An adventurous little pink mouse decides to go out and see the world.

On his way he meets the butterflies, snails, bees, spiders and other creatures that children commonly finds in the garden and in the neighborhood. He invites all of them to join him on his trip but they are all busy searching for food. Finally he meets a cat and extends his invitation to him too…..
The illustrations are bright and vibrant with information about the animal world and their feeding habits strategically placed for little readers to notice and read.
A wonderful attempt to introduce children to the world of life science.
Paperback, 24 pages, easy to carry for kids

September 11, 2014

The Penguin Who Wanted to Find Out

The 2005, award winning nature documentary 'March of the Penguin', captured the  yearly journey of  the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica. It renewed our interest in the life of these beautiful creatures.Though it is a wonderful documentary, it does contain occasional imagery that are disturbing - some penguins freezing to death, others being killed by predators. Parents might not think it as appropriate for their little children's viewing.

'The Penguin Who Wanted to Find Out' by Jill Tomlinson tells the story of Otto, the penguin chick.Through Otto,the author traces the journey of transformation of a penguin, from chick to adult.

Otto is a curious penguin. He asks a lot of questions to wise Claudius, a male Emperor Penguin,who carries him around on his feet. The questions that Otto asks are the many questions that young readers might have about penguins and their life in Antarctica.The books gives a vivid description of the climatic conditions,the prevailing topography and how penguins survive in the harsh weather.
 Otto, being the first chick, takes care of the other chicks.He learns that penguins help and take care of each other. The book tells how all the adult penguins in the community take turn to feed and nurture all the chicks.
Otto along with other chicks - Leo, Nap, Gusto, Alex grow up together, eagerly wait for their adult feathers to come through and finally toboggan into the sea.

A wonderful, easy and fun way for our curious kids to know more about the life of  Emperor Penguins.

September 05, 2014

How deep is the sea ?

Age group - 5 to 6 years
Author- Anna Milbourne
Illustration- Serena Riglietti
Design -Laura Wood
Publisher- Usborne Publishing Ltd.
 The cover illustration is that of a little penguin swimming in the sea as if in search of the answer to the question “How deep is the sea?”. It immediately reminded me of the endless ‘how’, ‘why’ questions that Junior asks.
The book is a wonderful way of introducing the child to the underwater world – the different life forms at different depths of the sea. It is told through a penguin Pipkin who asks his mother “How deep is the sea?” His Mum asks him to take a dive and find it for himself.
Salty the dog with a submarine is his companion in his journey.

Early readers - 5 to 6 years can read it without help.
Follow up parent child activity:
-   Do praise Pipkin for being curious. Encourage your child to ask questions.
-   Your little one might have a lot of questions. Be ready to answer his many “whys”- “ why does the sea get darker and darker as we go deeper and deeper? What are these strange sea creatures with lights? Has man ever been to such depths? Check out
-   Listen to the Beatles “Yellow submarine”. Ask him whom would he like to take along with him on his submarine trip and what food would he like to take with him.
- Make your submarine

For friends who are outside India, check out How deep is the sea ? in

September 01, 2014

Hello Pepi : A Toy Dog for Real

This is 'Dragon' a.k.a ' Draggy'-thats what the children of my neighbourhood call him. We do not know what his owner had named him, but he responds with wags when the children call out for Draggy.
 Ageing and abandoned by his owner, he has found refuge in our neighbourhood. He has struck a friendly chord with the children as well as  with the adults. He has been adopted by one of the Security Guards of our neighbourhood and can be seen  patrolling with him at night.
It is amazing to see his williness to survive, ability to forgive and forget and move on.
Animals have the ability to teach us what a lifetime of learning cannot.
Now, meet Pepi - a spirited little Chihuahua, ever curious, a bundle of endless energy.  Based on a true story, Hello Pepi : A Toy Dog for Real - books 1 to 5, is a celebration of love and friendship.
In books 1 to 3 ( Hello Pepi,  Pepi's First Things and Pepi Goes Parkies) Pepi, raven black with a lightning bolt on his chest, piglet ears, warms up to a little girl Mona and in a way, chooses her to be his owner. Mona now a responsible Mum, feeds and trains Pepi with the basics. Pepi meanwhile, is busy exploring his new home, braving little accidents now and then. He loves going outdoor , a cynosure of all the little girls and boys of the neighbourhood. Pepi enjoys his trips to the park, specially ball fetching games. Once while playing in the park, he meets with an accident and is forced to stay in bed. It is a lesson for both Pepi and Mona. 
Alarna Rose Gray has written the book in verses funny, sweet and smart. There is a lovely rhythm. It is difficult to stop turning the pages. The illustration, done by Kim Sponaugle, in black and white is adorable.
Perfect gift for young readers.
Kindle edition available.
If you want to know about real Pepi, please visit Alarna's blog site.
Pepi is a hot favorite in our home. Junior enjoyed reading  books 1 to 3 and is looking forward to read the rest of the series. Pepi  is featuring regularly in Junior's dinner discussions..won't be long before he says," Mum, can I have a puppy too !!"  :)