Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Avani and the Pea Plant

My picture book "Avani and the Pea Plant", illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta and published by Pratham Books, was released last week.

Copies are available here - https://store.prathambooks.org/p_9789350225479?proid=9789350225479

Friday, February 05, 2016

100 Books Pact - Books 21 to 30

21/100 The Castle Crime by Ron Roy (A-Z Mysteries)
When I asked people for recommendations for Famous Five-like mysteries, this series came up in all their suggestions. Puttachi brought a few copies home from the library. I asked her to give me one of them to read, for me to get an idea, and she gave me this one.
The mystery and solution is a lot like "The Missing Necklace" by Enid Blyton (Find-Outer series) but it is a very different kind of book. I liked it, and so did Puttachi. So we have some Enid Blyton substitutes to tide us over!

22/100 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
I had said that I would take a break from reading out HP to Puttachi after the third book. But she wore me down with her incessant arguments and requests. So there you go, we finished Goblet of Fire yesterday.
There were several things about the story that she didn't appreciate fully, which was what I was afraid of. I did stop from time to time to explain things to her, yet, obviously, it wasn't enough for her 8-year-o...ld sensibilities. But yet, she got the overall story, and that satisfied her immensely. And sure enough, she has been talking about the book non-stop ever since we finished.
Also, funnily, as I read it, I realized that either I have completely missed reading this book, or else, I have read it in a great hurry, because I remembered next to nothing about the details in this book.
Oh and what a long, long, long book

23/100 "The Crossing Places" by Elly Griffiths.
The one thing that stands out about this book is the unlikely heroine. Ruth Galloway is an overweight archaeologist who lives alone with two cats for company. The writing is nothing to rave about, sometimes it is a little clich├ęd. The mystery was not that much of a mystery. But why did I finish this book, given that I abandon books left and right nowadays? Because the storytelling is compelling. And because it has archaeology, which I like reading about. And because I really liked Ruth Galloway and the other characters. And so I am going to read more Ruth Galloway books (yes, it is a series).

24/100 Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh
This is the third book in the Ibis Trilogy, after Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke. Mere words are not enough to express the feelings that these books have evoked in me. Historical fiction at its best. I revel in the way these books whirl me away from reality and plonk me into another land, another time, amid people who have never existed -- and I start to care deeply about these people and feel personally invested in their fates, weep along with them, exult along with them.
Even as the reader in me loves these books with a mad passion, the writer in me hates them, because they make her want to pack away her writing tools forever and dissolve into the ground.

25/100 Charlotte's Web by EB White
For years, I've been hearing the name of this book. Top 50 children's books of all time? This book is on the list. Top 10 children's books on friendship? This one is on it. Top books a child should read before s/he turns 10? You get the idea. Not only that, this name used to crop up in articles on effective writing too. And I still hadn't read it.
So yes, finally read it. And I was preparing to be disappointed. However, it deserves all the accolades it has got. This is one of those books that ought to be read several times, and that, probably, is the mark of a good book.
Puttachi loved it too. Give your child this book, and you read it too, if you haven't already.

26/100 Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
I wanted a quick, gripping read, and this did the trick. Not as astounding as Devotion of Suspect X by the same author, but this was "different" too. More of a howdunit than a whodunit, and I found that a welcome change.

27/100 and 28/100 - The Big Red Lollipop, and Ruler of the Courtyard - both by Rukhsana Khan.
A couple of years ago, I'd been to a 2-hour picture book workshop by Canadian-Pakistani author Rukhsana Khan. This coincided with the release of her young-adult book "Wanting Mor" by Duckbill (which I recommend highly)
During the workshop, she spoke about her picture books, and these were among the ones she mentioned, telling us the story behind them. Ruler of the Courtyard is a very... layered story. I am not too crazy about the illustrations, but it is such a wonderful book to read out aloud - the rhythm of the text is breathtaking.
The Big Red Lollipop is hugely popular and she told us about how she toyed around with different narrators but nothing sounded right, until finally, the present version did the trick. She also narrated to us (all adults) the story of the Big Red Lollipop, as she does in her book readings for little children across the world, and what an energetic, inspired performance it was! Here is a recording on youtube.


29/100 A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay
I give a lot of importance to recommendations by friends whose choices I trust. And so even though I hadn't even heard of this author, when Shyamala Ramanathan-Edwards recommended this (it was on her 100bookpact list) I jumped at it. She promised it would be a gripping read, and it was. I seem to be in the mood for fast-moving thrillers, come to think of it, and I liked the characters, the story, and how it held my attention until the end. However, the editor in me found too many mistakes in it for my comfort - ah well, occupational hazard.

30/100 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, by Douglas Adams
I've had mixed luck with Douglas Adams' books. The first time I tried to read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", I couldn't finish it. But in my next attempt, I finished and loved it. I've tried another book of his (I forget which one) but couldn't get through it.
However, this one called out to me, and I think it had something to do with the name of the book, and the name of the character. Dirk Gently, se...riously? And Holistic Detective Agency? I just had to see what it was. I'm glad I did, because I enjoyed it tremendously. His brand of humour is different from anything else I've known. And the plot is completely insane, and yet makes so much sense.
What I like best is how he takes a situation, turns it on its head and makes the reader look at it with completely new eyes, and not only does that perspective amuse you, but it also astounds you, and you wonder why you never thought of it like that before. And I think therein lies his genius.
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