Friday, November 30, 2012

Whose love is greater?

Puttachi and I are being silly.

Puttachi:  Amma, I love you thousand million crore.

I:  I love you thousand million crore + 1

She:  I love you as much as you do plus thousand million and forty

I:  I love you all that, + 1

Puttachi (giggles, gets the hang of it.):  I love you as much as you say, plus twenty thousand and one.

I:  I love you all that you do, multiplied by two.

She: I do, multiplied by thousand.

I: Ha, whatever you do, I love you more than you love me.

She: Why?

I:  Err.. emmm.....It's just that way.

She:  How do you know?  Are you sure?

I:  (it seems obvious, but is it true?  I don't know.  Aloud, I say). mmmmm...

She thinks for a while.

She: Amma, I think I know why.

I: Why?

She: Because a parent will start loving the child as soon as she is born, maybe even before she is born.  But the child has to be born, and then grow a little and realize who she is and who her parents are, and only then will she start loving her parents.  So because the parents have started loving the child much earlier, they love the child more.

I can't argue with that!

Monday, November 19, 2012

My favourite children's picture book

My favourite children's book has got to be "The Gruffalo."  Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, this is such a delight.  I'll tell you why in a while.

First I have got to tell you who sent this book to us.  Shyam surprised Puttachi and me with these books, sent through the post from the UK.  Three books by Julia Donaldson, and one Activity book.  And me, she sent me... cough, books on learning Japanese.  She knew that I was trying my hand at learning the language, and she sent me some.  A perfect surprise, and totally sweet.

Okay, now about the book.  Written in verse, it is a delightful story of a little mouse who invents a monstrous Gruffalo to scare away predators, and then meets the very Gruffalo of his own imagination. 

The story is adorable.
It is lovely to read aloud - this is one of the very few books I really enjoy reading out aloud to Puttachi.  Such a lovely cadence to it!
And the illustrations - they take you right into the pages of the book.  So bright, so rich!

The two other books, "A Squash and a Squeeze" and "Monkey Puzzle" again by the same author-illustrator team are also absolutely delightful.  The first one has a hidden message too, and the second is perfect for little children who love to laugh when people make a funny mistake.

Puttachi loves all the books, and lately she has been sitting with them and trying to read them herself.  The Gruffalo unsettles her a little.   She wants to see the picture of the Gruffalo, she is so drawn to it, but yet she wants to grasp my wrist while she peeks at it.  Heh heh.. but seriously it is a very cute and yet scary monster.  Hats off to the illustrator who has achieved that effect!

I have not seen it in bookstores here, but it is available on Flipkart

Shyam, thank you for hours and hours of enjoyment with the books!

Which is your/your child's favourite picture book!  Let us know!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reviews of two books by writer friends

This has been a long time coming, but here it is anyway.

I read two books by two writer friends recently.

"Tell a Thousand Lies" by Rasana Atreya.

Nominated for the "Tibor Jones South Asia prize,"  this novel tells us about Pullamma, a dark-skinned girl whose only dream is to get married and have a municipal water connection.  But fate has other things in store for her, as she becomes a pawn in a crooked politician's power games.

Filled with wit, and astute observations about life, this novel is quite unputdownable.  The characters are very well-etched, and I can imagine how difficult it must be to maintain the integrity of a character's identity through a full-length novel, but Rasana has done it.

I think the success of a novel depends on how well you identify and root for the protagonist, and how memorable the other characters are.  So considering all that, I would call this novel a success.

There are twists and turns at every point, and it can keep you turning the pages.  Sometimes you wonder whether such events can really happen, but yes, such things indeed do happen.

There were some parts which I felt was repetitive - especially during emotional scenes where a particular feeling was stressed and re-stressed.  But for all you know, that might very well be the reason it worked to engage the reader in the problems of the characters in the story.  I know how fine a balance it is, to get the right effect, and if you consider all that, then Rasana has done a good job.

Looking forward to her next books :)

"Leap in a Blue Moon" by Ishwar Vedam.

This is a children's book in which the author has woven a story about a girl who is learning about idioms, and then lands up in a place where idioms come to life.  If there is a woman with a green thumb, she really has a green thumb.  And the long arm of the law is really an all-seeing, great long arm which raps law-breakers (oh how I wish we had something like that in real life!)

I think it is a fabulous idea, great imagination too. The story itself is an exciting adventure, with a very satisfying conclusion.  The language is good, clear, but not affected - just right for everybody, not only kids.

The dreamlike quality of the story affected me - even after I stopped reading for a while in the middle, I would keep thinking about it while going about my work.

The negatives - I would have gone in for much tighter editing - I think the reading experience would have been nicer if the book had been a few pages smaller.  The dialogues - in some places I felt that it could have flown more naturally. 

But worth a read.  A good gift for a young friend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Making up jokes

Puttachi loves making up her own jokes. Here are two examples

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...
Humpty Dumpty fell down.
Humpty Dumpty broke....
But, he smiled!
Because............. a chick came out!


Puttachi: So I was talking to Little Puttachi (her imaginary friend) and I was telling Little Puttachi how I like to sleep for ten minutes, and so I set the alarm for ten minutes and lay down to sleep every day.  But some days, I fall asleep in one minute, which means I get to sleep for nine minutes.  Then on some days, I take two minutes to fall asleep, which means I get to sleep only for eight minutes until the alarm goes off.  So what shall I do?  I asked Little Puttachi.  Do you know what she said?  She said, "Set the alarm after you fall asleep!"

- -