8 to 13 years - Books for Middle Readers

8 to 13 years - Books for Middle Readers

Review: Six Books

Reviewer: 
Vidya Ashok
Review content: 

Siri’s Smile by R. Aramendran is well laid out for three plus. The very fact that the book has more pictures with lots of colour and less text will catch a young mind’s attention. The rhyming sentences too add to the delight of reading. It is also interesting to see, how the author connects environment and nature to the child who seems to be searching for her lost smile, hereby also teaching some basic concepts about nature to the reader. For example, the hot and shiny sun, the waxing and waning of moon, will be easily understood by the child. The cover and title of the book are also apt.

The book is a good read and will prompt the young inquisitive reader to put questions across to know more. It is bound to bring a big smile on a little face.

What comes to your mind when you think of colours….. Liveliness, energy, dynamism. We all know what magic colours do. They add zing to an otherwise boring and mundane life. They instantly transform a boring book into an interesting one. But, have you ever wondered about the enormous varieties of colours?

The book by Muriel Kakani brings out the spirit and diversity of colours  and is about the search for making one such colour—the colour ‘Blue’. The story is set in a village in Karnataka and revolves around a young girl named Kunku, who lives amidst dyers and weavers. She is enthralled by the colour ‘Blue’ which she notices  in the band around the neck of her pigeon, Chandrakali. In her village, she has seen all colours being made with vegetables, fruits or flowers—Bright Red , Blazing Yellow , Soft Pink….but she had never seen a ‘Blue’ being made. It is her quest to know the secret behind the Blue colour, which makes her send her beloved pigeon to Kashi to find out more.

The Mystery Of Blue definitely manages to keep the reader glued to the book. The thoughts—Will Kunku succeed in making the colour which no one in her village has so far made? Will Chandrakali unravel the ‘Mystery of Blue’?—will make you flip the pages with fervour. The colourful, bright illustrations also beautifully complement the storyline.

Pintoo and the Giant: A Modern Fairytale which does not claim to be in the genre of moral stories, will touch the heart of the children as it is a modern fairytale. A child will immediately relate to the bubbly Pintoo, the main character of the story, as all children have vivid imagination. There are no boundaries. Sky is the limit for the fantasies a young mind can weave. Most of us in our childhood would have let our imagination go wild and made a monster out of a shadow. Pintoo walks through a field during sunset and comes face to face with a giant. Now it is for the reader to find out whether the giant is a concoction of Pintoo’s wild imagination or is in reality a monster that wants to eat up Pintoo. An entertaining book with illustrations complementing the vivacious storyline. Worth adding to your fairytale collections.

The Lonely King and Queen is a story of a King and a Queen, surprisingly to whom one can instantly connect. They are illustrated in the book not glamorously but as a normal people and who despite having lots of friends are still facing loneliness in their lives.  And one fine day they hear a voice calling out to them. Then the interesting part i.e,  the SEARCH for the voice begins. Here comes gentle humour in the story, when the King and Queen search for the voice behind the cushions and under the leaves of a plant in the pot.

The message that adoption can complete a family and cause great happiness to a lonely couple is subtly communicated. And those who are not looking for a message can simply enjoy the colourful illustrations with each sentence of the story that prompts one and all to jump out and enact it out to children.  

Aunty Mouse, a delightful folktale from Bhutan retold by Kunzang Choden and illustrated by Pema Tshering, is a story of a young, poor and orphan girl, Tashi Doma, who finds unexpected things happening when she chases her lunch box which rolls down the mountainside and stops right into a mouse hole and is befriended by its charming occupant, Aunty Mouse. Aunty Mouse invites her inside the hole  to have dinner. Aunty Mouse finds Tashi a simple and well-mannered girl and gifts her precious jewels and wonderful clothes. A rich, spoilt girl from Tashi’s village learning from Tashi that Aunty Mouse gifted clothes and jewels to her, tries to repeat the same experience and to her astonishment finds everything opposite happening to her! She cannot understand why Aunty Mouse was so kind to Tashi Doma and not to her. The book is well designed making it easy to read.  

My seven-year-old daughter read Room In Your Heart and asked me, ‘Mummy, how can so many people get into one small room?’  thereby giving me a chance to explain to her about values such as  generosity, magnanimity, open-heartedness. On reading this book, children might not really understand the deep meaning lying within but will definitely be prompted to ask a few questions which can be appropriately utilized by you to try teaching and instilling in them a few values.  The story stimulates the thinking process of the child. It leads a child to explore his/her imagination skills as the child thinks of a small room slowly getting filled up with people one by one.

Good illustrations and repetitive sentences make the book an interesting read for children.

Reviewer Profile Note: 

Vidya Ashok is a teacher at Salwan Public School, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi.

Book 1: 

Siri's Smile

Author:
R. Amarendran
Illustrator:
Bhakti Phatak
Tulika Publishers, 
2011
Book 2: 

The Mystery Of Blue

Author:
Muriel Kakani
Illustrator:
Boski Jain
Tulika Publishers, 
2011
Book 3: 

Pintoo and the Giant

Author:
Sulabha R. Devpurkar
Illustrator:
Ashwin Chikerur
Tulika Publishers, 
2011
Book 4: 

The Lonely King and Queen

Author:
Deepa Balsavar
Illustrator:
Deepa Balsavar
Tulika Publishers, 
2011
Book 6: 

Room In Your Heart

Author:
Kunzang Choden
Illustrator:
Pema Tshering
Young Zubaan, 
2011

Who are the Nagas? An Activity Book For Children

Reviewer: 
Shakeel Sobhan
Review content: 

Books about the history of the various ethnic groups of North East India may be found abundantly in libraries but those catering to the minds of young children are few and far between. That is why Who are the Nagas? in its attempt to reach out to children is a commendable effort. Haksar, a human rights lawyer and author, makes an ethnographic study of the Naga tribes in this book. Apart from illustrations, puzzles and crosswords the book paints a very vivid picture of the region and its people—about whom not much is known, outside of their land.  

Originally intended for Naga children, the book can be a treasure-trove for anyone who wants to know about the history and culture of the Nagas. From the etymology of the word ‘Naga’ to their intricate ornamentation, Who are the Nagas? very lucidly, presents the way of life of the Naga people. The book leads the reader via a series of activities through the history of the Naga tribes as they traverse from Yunan Province of China (as experts believe) and come to settle in what is now known as Nagaland, and thereon goes on to describe their different cultures and dwellings. It delves into interesting tidbits of information—such as that the international boundary between India and Myanmar passes through the house of the chief of the Konyak tribe—which are bound to keep the reader engrossed.

While the osmosis of information happens, one of the elements that really stands out in the book is the artwork of Goan artist Kalidas Mhamal. The artist’s ethnographic portraits are lifelike and impeccably detailed. All the intricately designed ceremonial wear, ornaments, items of use are just as intricately drawn, thereby brilliantly breathing life into them. His art work gives a picture to the imagination of the reader and makes it that much easier to follow the author’s words.

The only disconnect a reader not familiar with the Nagas might face is that he/she might be stumped when asked to identify from a set of images who amongst them are the members of the Naga tribes. Or when shown pictures of items the Nagas use in their everyday life and asked to link these unfamiliar items with their uses. But a reader need not worry. The answers to the aforementioned questions are quite within reach and form a part of the activities, which the book is structured around, so as to introduce the ways of the Nagas to its readers.

Thus Who are the Nagas? overall, is an entertaining and engrossing look into the life and culture of the Nagas, and will definitely keep its young (or older) readers enthralled as they learn about a the ways of life of people whom they might not have known much about.

Reviewer Profile Note: 

Shakeel Sobhan is a journalist with the Hindustan Times, New Delhi.

Book 1: 

Black Panther

Reviewer: 
Geeta Parameswaran
Review content: 

Black Panther is the story of Veera and his son Kari waiting eagerly to see a black panther. One day Kari tells Veera that he had spotted a big black cat near a red silk cotton tree. Veera knows it is a black panther and they are successful in spotting the animal. Both father and son want to see the animal closely. They lie down still and pretend to be dead. The black panther comes close to Veera and starts licking him. Seeing this Kari shouts wildly. On hearing the noise the panther becomes confused and starts running towards the jungle. Veera and Kari are overwhelmed with joy. Black Panther, a slim book of 27 pages, leaves in the reader’s mind a sense of curiosity to watch animals without any fear.

The story and Ashok Rajagopalan’s illustrations bring to life a silent, secretive, shy creature. A Tulika publication for the age group of 6+ is a good read.

Book 1: 

Black Panther

Author:
Aravind Krish Bala
Illustrator:
Ashok Rajagopalan
Tulika Publishers, 
2011
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