June 01, 2015

Fly Away Home !!! -Christine Nostlinger translated by Anthea Bell

The cover page picture of the book, depicts a scene from a war torn city - flying planes, burning houses, rubble and a little girl standing amidst the destruction. The story is a true account of life in Austria during the end of Second World War , as seen through the eyes of a little girl, Cristal.

'The story I'm going to tell is true.
It happened to me. It is a tale of Gunpowdertown.'

Amidst the horrors of war, the air raids, the dark cellars, scarcity of food and constant fear of enemy taking over the city, curious little Cristal always looks for excitement and adventure. The wealthy and the poor, all are humbled by the war. After Cristal's house is reduced to rubble in an air raid, her family takes refuge in a wealthy suburb camping along with the daughter and grand children of Frua von Brun, the owner of the mansion. All of them live together in similar conditions without any distinction based on status.
 Soon,the Russians march into the city and worst of all, they chose to camp in the mansion in which Cristal,her family and von Brun family are staying. It is a mixed experience for the children, tense moments and friendly encounters with the Russians.

What I think about the book :

It's a wonderful read. A humbling one. Rich in emotions.

- For a mature audience( I would suggest for children 12 years and up).
- May require active involvement of parents. Lot of discussion opportunity regarding the dynamics of Second World War and some sensitive issues regarding the fears and worries of adults with respect to enemy occupation of their city.
- There is a little section at the end which has information regarding the war.

February 23, 2015

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

'The Incredible Book Eating Boy' by Oliver Jeffers comes with a disclaimer 'DO NOT EAT THIS BOOK AT HOME' :) and chances are  you might be tempted to give it a nibble !

Bookworms will love it !

It's about a boy Henry, who accidentally discovers that he loves  eating books. He eats all sorts of books, story books, dictionaries, atlases, joke books. More books he eats, the smarter he gets, even smarter than his teachers. Henry loves being smart.

But is his book-eating method a really smart way of gaining knowledge ??? Henry soon finds out.

It is a beautifully illustrated book with a funny story line. The illustration are creatively done on different types of paper. Some are drawn on cardboard,some on old books and maps.

It appeals to children and adults alike. For children it's pure fun. Lots of laughter, guaranteed ! My son spent a lot of time with the book.

Mature audience will appreciate the fact that there is no short cut to gaining knowledge and becoming smart.

My take :

It is a great read aloud book for 5 years and above.

A wonderful way of introducing children to different medium for creating beautiful illustrations.

A great way to telling children that stories can be told effectively and creatively told through pictures as well. You do not always need words, sentences and long paragraphs.

How about encouraging them to make flip books and their own comic strip ?

Found an interesting interview  Oliver Jeffers - the artist/ illustrator/writer here. Hope you enjoy it too!

January 23, 2015

Dirty Beasts - Roald Dahl

Presently,it's all about Roald Dahl in Junior's world. It started with The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me and The Fantastic Fox. The collection is steadily building up.

The lastest entry is Dirty Beasts.

  The description on the back cover says

" Roald Dahl has created a ghastly assortment of wicked beasts getting up to some extra ordinary and unmentionable things in this comic collection of verse. Meet the clever pig with a plan to save his bacon, the scorpion who likes to sting, the giant toad who can jump from England to France, and lots more."

My personal experience:
We had not read any of Roald Dahl's poems before. We were very excited. At bedtime, Junior and I took turns to read them aloud. We were rolling with laughter. The excellent illustration by Quentin Blake made the situations more comical.

 Suggestions : 
I would recommend it for children( 7 years +) who have read Roald Dahl books earlier and are familiar with his style and  humor.
Excellent  for parent-child bonding actvity. Please read it aloud along with your children. The stories though dark, are clever, fast paced and full of action. You might find your little ones giggling and squirming with disgust at the same time.( Some kids may not like the idea of an ant eater eating humans or crocodiles having boys and girls for lunch. But most 7 year olds I guess enjoy the yucky stuff :) ).

The poems are lengthy, vary from 2 to 4 pages ( except The Lion). There  are some sentences, which require careful handling and parental guidance. For instance, in The Cow,the reference to the man from Afganistan as horrid and cow dropping cow pat on his head. Also,The Scorpion, maynot be a good choice for bed time reading. It could be nightmare inducing.

All said and done, inspite of people being eaten and stinging scorpions, it's a must read. Funny,  nonsenscical, engaging....

Oh yes, it might encourage your kid to try writing some funny verse too. Junior got creative and wrote his nonsensical piece :
The lion came out of his lair
To eat a pear.
Is it fair ?
Are you sure, it is not a hare ?
A vegetarian tiger ! it's a night mare.
Such rumours are flying in the air.

 Next the lion wanted to cut his hair.
He went and sat on the barber's chair.
The other customers in the shop got a scare.
They ran as fast as a hare.
The barber shouted " Get up from the chair !"
The sad lion went back to his lair.

Image courtesy : http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91zVXZSIurL._SL1500_.jpg


January 06, 2015

Born to Run - Michael Morpurgo

Born to Run - The many lives of one incredible dog......I could not resist the look in the eyes of the dog featured on the cover page of the the book. Those deep pleading eyes melted my heart. I picked up the book silently and put it in the cart. Reading the backcover was unnecessary. I was already convinced.

I was right. It is a heart warming story of a grey hound,right from the time he is rescued from drowning in a canal by a school boy. He is dognapped by a greyhound dog racer who does not care for his dogs. For sometime he is homeless and spents nights in streets but finally finds himself as the mascot of an oldage home. His incredible journey has its share of joyful and sad moments. He comes across wonderful and caring people. With each new owner he gets a new name.

It is a fast paced gripping story with a wonderfully gorgeous ending. Perfect for adults and young readers( 8 years and above). I enjoyed reading it along with my seven year old.There were times he would get upset and emotional but happy times weren't too far. It was a completely different and mature experience for him.

Try it out...you'll definitely get hooked to it.

Know more about Born to Run and Michael Morpurgo.