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You know about that saying-Don’t judge something by its size? Well, it’s true of books as well.  Take, ‘The Little Prince’ for example. Anyone can be fooled easily into thinking that it is a mere children’s story by its small size (and even its title for that matter). But no other book can have so many profound yet seemingly simple truths packed into its story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not philosophical neither does it pretend to be so in the guise of a children’s tale. ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine De Saint Exupery is a simple tale of two children and their own ways of looking at the world. And within these different views of the world lie the most obvious truths which often are not visible to grown-ups. (Find out some history about the book if you can).

The Little Prince’ is narrated by an unnamed child who has apparently crashed into the Sahara Desert. There he meets the little prince and they converse with each other about each other’s planets and other things which reveal their thoughts and beliefs as well-like that the narrator likes to draw but was discouraged by grown-ups who never understood them, that the little prince liked to see sunsets and never let go of a question once he asked them or that he came from a very tiny planet etc.  During these conversations, the narrator tries to fix his crashed air plane so that he can go back home. He narrates this story six years after this particular crash occurred.

Every page, every chapter will have some sort of wisdom embedded in it which somehow slips us grown-ups by. Most of these wisdoms are told simply and directly which is why they are so memorable. Quoting all of them is nigh impossible. So I will let you explore them on your own.

A unique aspect about ‘The Little Prince’ is that it is simple, direct and curt. The writing and the conversations imitate the simple, to the point behaviour of children. This directness is precisely why it’s refreshing and why it is easy to make one’s point and make the reader understand it well. It hits the reader directly as a result and that’s why these simple statements are so enlightening. There is no unnecessary beating around the bush.

I read a translation by Irene Testot-Ferry which I got from Flipkart for quite a good bargain  The translation seemed good. Since I have nothing to compare it to, I can’t be a good judge of it. Do share if you have read a brilliant translation of ‘The Little Prince‘ or if you have read it originally in French

This book is a treasure which you can open just about at any page and then read it to elicit a new way of understanding and perhaps to lighten up your bad mood. It makes you look at things in an uncomplicated manner.  You as a reader can find several layers of meaning lying hidden beneath the seemingly childish talks of the child protagonists of ‘The Little Prince.’ From them, I sincerely hope that you can take away something that can be useful in your life because this is one book that you cannot fail to learn something from-however simple or obvious it might be.

The Little Prince’ is a story one in a million which can carve a special place in your heart, a story all should read and learn from.

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This one book is a definite must for all parents who want their kids to read Indian stories rather than just Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys or God forbid, Twilight series!!!!!

Its called, ‘One Hundred and One Folktales From India‘ written by Eunice De Souza. The book, as is self explanatory, is a collection of folktales from all across India-from Kashmir, to Nagaland, to Assam, to Konkan, to Kerala etc. Some tales are new, never before chronicled, or rarely narrated in such collections. While some are very popular, well known stories.The book is divided into 6 parts, each having a separate theme. There are stories about magical beings, about kings and queens, heroes, Gods, clever men and women, saints and sadhus, of famous personlaities like Akbar Birbal, Tansen, Tenali Raman, of beasts and birds and several more!

The language is simple, clear cut, easy for the youngest children to grasp and coupled with superb black and white illustrations done by Sujata Singh, these tales are sure to entice kids. The stories can also be enjoyed by adults who have little time to read and want short, simple, witty stories. Its a great book to read if one is travelling short distances. One can easily read five to six stories in about 15 minutes since most stories are one or two pages only. Its a good way to revisit one’s childhood when such stories were popular to read or get in touch with Indian folktales.

Despite its collection and marvellous illustrations, many parents would prefer buying some other folktales books like the Amar Chitra Katha or Aesop fables books. The former is in general very popular and its colourful illustrations along with the comic book style format will surely catch the eye of any young kid more than Eunice De Souza’s ‘One Hundred and One Folktales From India.’ That’s one and the only disadvantage of the book. There are just so many better, more vibrant, colourful books about India’s rich folktales and mythology that both parents and kids might prefer that. They may view De Souza’s book as just another big, fat, long, textbook type book that completely discourages them from buying it. Of course, a parent can definitely influence a kid’s choice!

Apart from that, ‘One Hundred and One Folktales From India‘ is a brilliant collection of stories, fables and folktales that allows any reader, with its simple language, to get a glimpse of India’s rich stories!

Ever wondered how a child reacts to violence? What are the effects of cruelty, brutality on a child’s mind? His/her psyche? How it scars them? What they think of it ? How they interpret it? Ok..now you must be wondering why I am babbling child psychology cum emotional talk in a book review blog. But don’t worry I intend to write a book review only which will partially answer a few of those above seemingly unrelated questions. So what’s the book? Is it a psychology book? Or a EQ book?

Taken from mouthshut.com

Definitely NOT! Its a fictional novel produced by an astonishingly talented writer. The book’s name is ‘Ice-Candy Man‘ or ‘Cracking India’ written by Bapsi Sidhwa.

Partition was a big blot on Indian history. A lot of books were written during that time that were devoted to the sentiments, pain and grief of the common people. While most Partition literature prominently deals with adult perspectives, ‘Ice Candy Man‘ provides a rare child’s perspective of the Partition. Of course, this perspective is more or less colored by Sidhwa’s adult perspectives and ruminations too but nevertheless the book is essentially from a child’s point of view.

In a nutshell, ‘Ice Candy Man‘ is narrated by a Parsi girl, Lenny Sethi, living in Lahore. She has polio and an Ayah-Shanti-looks after her. Shanti is an attractive female constantly surrounded by a medley of male admirers who are mostly employed in Lenny’s house. Lenny learns about the news of the division, the spread of hatred as they unfold through the events she herself witnesses or hears from adults. But mostly Partition is represented or personified with Ayah’s life. How Partition, how one person’s love for her ruins her life to a large extent is a metaphor for how things turned from bad to worse, how religion got entangled with love during the Partition. Sidhwa has cleverly represented Ayah as the complex inter-cultural and inter religious background of Lahore in the pre-Partition days. Lenny’s thoughts not only reflect her childlike, sometimes confused, innocent perceptions but also depict Partition in a different light. Its gruesomeness is heightened when a child describes it. It seems even more mindless, awful and unnecessary.

Sidhwa’s style of writing can be difficult to digest as it seems desultory, jumping from one topic to another, one time frame to another in a flash. It can appear unconnected and difficult to keep track of but perhaps through this style, she is trying to portray a child’s mind and how rapidly it jumps from one interesting aspect to another. The randomness of children and their short attention span is marvelously portrayed in their writing style.

Ice Candy Man‘ is worth reading. it may be hard to find as it was first published in 1988. But one can easily get it online and if one searches diligently, one is bound to find one copy in some well managed library.

The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini is his first novel and it is simply extraordinary. It is rare to read a story about Afghanistan and even rarer for the that story to not be about war in Afghanistan. It is infact a story on deep friendship and love. ‘The Kite Runner‘ is a marvellous, honest story. It is a must read.

The two main protagonists- Amir and Hassan- are playful, fun loving kids living in the 1970s’ in Afghanistan. Amir is the son of a rich man while Hassan is the son of Amir’s servant, Ali. Despite that, Amir and Hassan are like brothers. They play together and frolic together and fly kites together . Hassan is an excellent kite runner and in the days when kite flying was a legal past time, it was a great talent to have. Amir, unlike his father, is not brave while Hassan can easily fend off bullies and other rascals bravely. Once in 1975, a shattering event occurs during the kite fighting tournament that alters both their lives. In 1981, Amir and his father move to America to flee from the violence in Afghanistan. Amir’s life is pretty secure then and he tries to forget that 1 event but it haunts him and it eventually makes Amir go back to Afghanistan to undo the wrong he had done back in 1975.

The Kite Runner‘ rendered me speechless. It is one of the best stories that I have read. It is immensely moving, emotional and heartbreaking. The splendid and beautiful description of prewar Afghanistan makes me realise how much the country has lost because of power, war and unending politics.

P.S. Do not watch the film, ‘Kite Runner‘ because it has none of the nuances and emotions in the book the touch the reader’s heart. It is quite a horrendous film. The book is thousand times better!

All of us may have read at least one Roald Dahl book as a kid and some may have read all his books. I come in the former category because I never really got around to reading Roald Dahl books as I was engrossed in Nancy Drew, Harry Potter or Agatha Christie series as a kid. The few Roald Dahl books I have read are Famous Five, the Mystery series but my favourite remains ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.’ And I recommend it to anyone of any age. In one word, the book is DELECTABLE! It is a feel good book that will be loved by anyone.

The story is fairly simple yet an interesting one. Charlie Bucket, a small kid and the hero, hails from a poor family. He loves chocolate(which kid doesn’t?) and he longs to visit the Wonka Chocolate Factory. But he can’t because the factory is always shut and no one leaves or enters that place. However, one lucky day. the newspapers announce that the Wonka Chocolate Factory is set to be opened for five lucky kids! Willy Wonka, the eccentric yet clever and brilliant owner of the factory, has placed five Golden Tickets in any 5 of his million chocolates. The children who get the ticket will be allowed to visit the factory and Charlie Bucket becomes one of the lucky few. His visit is the most wondrous of dreams, with chocolate overflowing everywhere and I mean literally everywhere!

The sheer scale of imagination that appears throughout the book-whether in characters or the story or the various types of chocolates-is so captivating that you would find the book brilliant!

‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ is literally a ‘sweet ‘ book with a happy ending. The language is simple, the plot engaging. The reader will never get bored while perusing it and the childish simplicity of the book with chocolate as its theme is what sets this book apart and makes it a great read for anyone. Children will find it hilarious and delicious and adults will be taken back to their childhood days when longing and dreams were  real!

All in all, its a wonderful book, a light read and anyone who has a sweet tooth or even anyone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth will surely develop one after reading  ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’.

Go, hurry, get your taste buds rolling with this fabulous book!!!

Switzerland Alps are world famous. For us Indians, they have captured our imaginations through endless Bollywood movies where the hero and the heroine romance in them. Many have seen them in travel shows and many know the Alps only for endless snow sports or Roger Federer. However before the advent of films and travel shows there was an amazing, innocent book called ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri that extolled the Swiss Alps beautifully.

‘Heidi’ is a marvelous classic and a must read.

‘Heidi’ is the name of the protagonist, a five year old orphan who is sent by her aunt, Dete, to live with her gruff, old grandfather in the Swiss Alps. As time goes by, Heidi merges with the surroundings and comes to love the mountains dearly. Her grandfather’s rudeness and hostility also begin melting by Heidi’s copious warmth and innocence.  However, all does not remain blissful up in the mountains. One day, her aunt comes back to take Heidi to Frankfurt to be a loving companion for a rich invalid, Clara. Over there, in a big city, away from the mountains which she sorely misses, Heidi becomes good friends with Clara but she can never forget her beloved Alps. She eventually falls grossly ill and the only remedy for her is to return. In summer, Clara visits Heidi in the Alps. Clara’s stay and the healthy mountain air help cure her.

‘Heidi’ is an immensely touching story. Its vivid and mesmerising descriptions are memorable  long after the reader has finished the book. Heidi’s cute adventures, her simple mountain life with Peter, her grandfather and the goats, her love  and her charm for everything are perfect. The Swiss mountains are more than just picture perfect; they are nothing short of paradise in the book.

‘Heidi’ has a childish feel to it and that is its strongest point beside the scenic Swiss Alps where it is set. Even though you will find this book tucked away in the ‘Children’ Classic’ in most bookstores, it can be read by anyone: an adult or a child. It will appeal to any age group. Anyone who loves nature, children, the mountains and their sense of purity, will find ‘Heidi’ pleasurable and three times better than any Bollywood film or travel show!

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