By Neha Kirpal
Fun ways to learn about history and wildlife, breaking gender stereotypes, and making one’s dreams come true… These new books for kids are worth seeking out.
Awesome Egyptians (Horrible Histories)
Terry Deary & Peter Hepplewhite
Illustrated by Martin Brown
(Scholastic, Rs 228)
An incredibly fun way to learn history, Horrible Histories (Egypt) introduces aspects of everyday life in ancient Egypt and the basics of Egyptian arithmetic. The book has facts, stories and trivia about the fascinating pharaohs, the pyramids and the mummies all packed into one interesting book. While most kids find history boring and tedious to study (“horrible dates to remember, horrible kings fighting horrible battles against horrible people”), this book actually makes it exciting and “tells the things that teachers daren’t” – as it is filled with gore and all the “nasty bits” such as which king had the worst blackheads, why some kings had to wear false beards and why the peasants revolted. The authors bring in quintessential British humour that’s entertaining for adults and kids alike.
Fascinating Friends in the Wild
Hema Badhwar Mehra
Illustrated by Karam Rai Mehra
(WWF-India, Rs 549)
WWF-India’s first animal book in rhyme, this captivating book takes you on a safari into the world of strange and wonderful animals such as aardvarks, okapis, echidnas, blue-footed boobies and quolls. Filled with colourful illustrations and fun rhymes that keep kids enraptured, the book is a result of the author’s research for information on rare and endangered animals to share with her own grandchildren. Hema has authored several short stories for children, which appeared regularly in Target magazine from 1984 to 1992.
The Vedas and Upanishads for Children
(Hachette, Rs 399)
This book simplifies some of India’s oldest sacred texts and ancient secular wisdom – the seemingly intimidating Vedas and Upanishads – and explains them in a witty, conversational tone that kids and adults will both appreciate. It is a fun gist that unravels some of life’s mysteries and gives startling insights into some of life’s most complex questions, such as: Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Where did the universe come from? Is there a God? Worth a read for all ages, we say.
Thatha at School
Illustrated by Gautam Benegal
(Pickle Yolk Books, Rs 350)
It is Grandparents’ Day at school, and everyone is excited except Oviyam, who is embarrassed at the thought of her schoolmates seeing her grandfather in a lungi. She tries to convince her Thatha to skip the function but he insists on attending. The only option left is to avoid him at the event, so that no one knows he is her grandpa. Will Oviyam rise above her insecurities and own up her lungi-wearing Thatha in front of everyone? Will she realise that external appearances don’t define a person? This book teaches kids to own their traditions and is the perfect read-aloud to quell a young mind’s insecurities.
Sera Learns to Fly
Illustrated by Nirzara Verulkar
(Katha Books, Rs 175)
Sera is a tiny ant different from the others – she has a dream. At the end of a hard day’s work, she climbs up to the top of the anthill and looks at the sky. She dreams of flying but everyone mocks her. What follows is simply miraculous. A simple story with a deep message, the book is a gentle lesson in hope, believing in one’s dreams and making them come true. The book is also available in Hindi.
Twice Upon a Time
(Puffin Books, Rs 199)
All princess stories are the same…but not this one. It’s a story about two girls – one, a princess and the other, a tomboy – both of whom just want to be themselves. When Princess Keya quits and Nyla shows up to replace her, two worlds collide. Together the girls ruffle dresses and feathers, break vases and traditions, fight dragons and boredom, grow roses and revolutions. Leave it to the girls to rescue everyone and each other. Boisterous, over the top and wickedly funny, this is the perfect book for girls who have outgrown princesses.
Shivaji Maharaj (Junior Lives)
(Puffin Books, Rs 150)
Fifth in a series of illustrated books created for young readers to get to know our world heroes better, this is an engaging biography of one of India’s greatest kings, Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj who was well known for his valour, bravery and clever war strategies. The book offers insights into this fearless young ruler’s inspiring journey through interesting anecdotes and little known facts about his life. Other titles in the Junior Lives series include books on Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Rani Lakshmibai and Gautama Buddha.
First published in eShe’s April 2019 issue