By Neha Kirpal
It’s that time of the year again. With scorching temperatures soaring every day, you’re probably wondering how to keep your kids busy and engaged at home during the upcoming summer vacations. Well, here is a curated list of 16 recently released books for children – all tried and tested by a real mom and a group of terrific kids from ages five to 13!
The books span a wide range of interesting themes – from inspiring women to values, mountain tales, mysteries and fantasy worlds. We hope you find them useful and they keep your little ones entertained!
Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea by Meena Harris, illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez (5+ years): An inspiring true story about two young sisters, Kamala and Maya, who have a big idea: of turning their empty apartment courtyard into a playground. The two girls preserve in the face of disappointment, and with the help of their community, manage to transform their neighbourhood. The girls went onto achieve great things: Maya Harris as a lawyer and policy expert, and Kamala Harris, as a United States senator from California who went on to become the vice-president of the country.
The Gutsy Girls of Science by Ilina Singh (9+ years): A book that celebrates the lives of 11 notable women scientists such as Anna Mani (meteorologist), Janaki Ammal (botanist), Raman Parimala (mathematician) and Archana Sharma (cytogenticist), and the remarkable contributions they have made to the world of science. The book is well-researched and tells the stories of these strong role models, particularly for women in STEM, through personal anecdotes, poems, artwork and fun facts.
The Written Word
Who’s Afraid of Z? Not Me! by Lubaina Bandukwala, illustrated by Allen Shaw (4+ years): A funny story about a quirky alphabet (Z) who no one takes seriously, until the protagonist realises that we can’t make so many words (“zigzag”, “zombie”, “zero”, “zap”, “zebra”, zipper”, “zoo” without this crucial alphabet. Told through rhyme, this book reminds one of the several Dr Seuss books out there – ‘zany’, yet still with some learning.
Blistering Barnacles: An A-Z of the Rants, Rambles and Rages of Captain Haddock by Albert Algoud (11+ years): It’s been eight decades since fans of The Adventures of Tintin fell in love with one of the most popular heroes, Captain Haddock, and his comical insults, from ‘blistering barnacles’ to ‘thundering typhoons’, ‘freshwater swabs’ and ‘sea-gherkins’. A must-have book for all Tintin fans, this collection is a kind of guide or dictionary that explores the meaning and origin of these inimitable curses.
How to Live Your Life by Ruskin Bond, illustrated by Shamika Chaves (9+ years): One of India’s most popular children’s authors is back with his latest: a bible on how to live one’s life. Filled with pearls of wisdom, priceless words of advice and anecdotes on everything from starting one’s day, finding nature, love, luck and celebrations, this book is actually an appropriate read not just for children but adults as well. “It’s the here and now of living that takes us forwards,” he muses in a personalised inland letter from his Ivy Cottage home in Mussoorie’s Landour. A treat for fans, needless to say!
Timeless Classics from Amar Chitra Katha by Christopher Baretto and Rituja Sawant (9+ years): This boxset of three books (Unusual Fables from India, Fascinating Stories from India and Amazing Folktales from South Asia) brings together some of the greatest stories in the Amar Chitra Katha catalogue. This is the second set of books in the Amar Chitra Katha chapter book series. The stories in the books have been adapted to the chapter book format from the original comics for the very first time.
I Am So Much More than the Colour of My Skin by Divya Thomas, illustrated by Ruchi Shah (5+ years): You can be an artist, sportsperson, chef, doctor, musician, techie, writer, environmentalist or politician. “Whether you’re white, brown or pink, what matters most is how you think.” This beautifully illustrated book encourages children to delight in their brown skin and define their future by their dreams, not the colour of their skin.
The Cricket Pang Values Series Set Two (4+ years): This is a set of lovely picture books with charming stories based on lovable animal characters. While the overall theme of the books is cricket, each book highlights important values (being brave, having fun together, being considerate, being forgiving, being thankful and curious) through engaging stories and endearing characters. With their simple vocabulary and sentence structure, these books are perfect for early readers.
The Mystery of the Missing Cat by Ravi Subramanian, illustrated by Ayeshe Sadr and Ishaan Dasgupta (6+ years): The second book in an intriguing detective fiction series, this mystery is set in the scenic hill town of Solan where a cricket match between India and Australia is to be held. Amidst all the cricketing stars and a glamorous film star, a cat goes missing, and victory may just slip away due to it. The police is baffled, and the Super Mystery Solvers (Aditya, Akriti and Kabir) step in to investigate.
The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill (9+ years): Fifteen orphans live in a town that was lovely once upon a time. Then the library burned down, and the town fell into ruin –and it is seen as the fault of the ogress who lives in the crooked house on the edge of town. When one of the orphans goes missing, the children know there is more to the story than meets the eye. Who is the real villain? They must find out.
My Trip to La-La Land by Nandita Da Cunha, illustrated by Tasneem Amiruddin (9+ years): When nine-year-old Tavishi’s mother drags her to set up a library in a faraway mountain school in Ladakh, a number of disasters begin. Read Tavishi’s charming travel diary to fnd out how her imagination helps them out. This delightful book about friendship and adventure also includes some stunning photos that give you a peek into the culture and landscape of the mountainous region of Ladakh.
Up the Mountains of India: A Fun, Fact-Filled Trek across the Country’s Major Ranges by Mala Kumar (10+ years): Put on your climbing boots and discover several fascinating facts about our country’s best known mountain ranges – the Himalayas, the Trans-Himalayas, the Aravalis, the Vindhyas, the Satpuras, the North-east mountains, the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats. Find out how each range was formed, discover the plants, trees and wildlife on them, and do your bit to save them from getting destroyed. Meet amazing communities who live in harmony with nature, clap for the scientists who look under rocks and into tree holes for new species of flora and fauna and enjoy the yummy dishes of the hills.
The Ten Second Book of Laughs and Surprises by Shamika Chaves (7 years +): Apparently, Adolf Hitler was mortally afraid of dentists and Alfred Hitchcock was scared of eggs. Do you know what would happen if we got close enough to a black hole in space? This book is a collection of some bizarre, weird and interesting facts – about science, geography, animals, food and more – that makes one believe that we truly live in a strange, fascinating world.
The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman (13+ years): Vira is desperate to establish her legacy as a revered Maharani of Ashoka. But the country’s only quarry is running out of magic, and there is a looming threat of war. Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious artefact of legend, the Ivory Key. But for that, she must reunite with her three estranged siblings – all of whom have taken very different paths. Each sibling harbours secrets, however, and so, the very thing that brought them together could tear them apart.
The Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi (13+ years): Alizeh, a servant girl, is actually the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom. She is hunted and forced to hide. The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies and learns about her. This is a story about clashing empires, forbidden romance and a long-forgotten queen – who must reclaim her throne, rebuild her kingdom and save her people.
Into the Sideways World by Ross Welford (9+ years): When 12-year-olds Willa and Manny hear of a mysterious animal prowling their town, they follow it into a cave. All of a sudden, they are swept into an alternative world – with no pollution or conflict. But no one believes them, and with a global war looming in our world, their quest for proof become ever more urgent, in a nail-biting race against time.
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