We received some incredible books this week! Beautifully written and illustrated picture books, books on mindfulness, divine vahanas, and more -- you are in for such a treat with this collection!
Remember when our parents told us we can do anything we want to do? The life and career messages that we pass on to our children stay with them for life, lifting them up when they face struggles or self-doubt. This beautiful picture book by Niyatee Sharma is about a mother and her daughter who take a nature trail. Every step of the nature trail, they talk about what the child wants to be. The child builds little structures with sticks, a beautiful freeform building that is open-ended and creative. She sees an anthill and her mother tells her she can be an architect and design fine buildings. "Do you know ants are the most amazing architects of nature?" she says. The mother and child pass through trees, ponds, fields and they see all forms of nature.
The illustrations give little clues -- for instance, when the mother tells her daughter that she can be a superhero and save the world, the daughter is depicted as doing something small, yet significant! The book ends with the mother repeating and insisting on the fact that her daughter can do whatever she wants, but for now, she just wants her to dream. According to the author, the idea behind the book was to take inspiration and clues from nature about what they can set out to do or achieve with their lives. This really shines through in the book!
It is amazing when a picture book is so much more than just a picture book. We love this book and we think you should get a hold of it!
I love art and I can look at paintings for hours. I can sit in a gallery for an entire day but I cannot paint. Just Like Papa is about a girl Gia, or 'Genius Gee' as her papa calls her. Gia's father is a wonderful and famous painter. Their house is filled with his paintings and he is especially famous for painting hands. Gia loves looking at his paintings and she can immerse herself in the worlds that he creates on canvas. Gia's papa loves her and says that she is an artist just like him. Gia too wants to be just like her papa but whenever she takes up a brush, she freezes. She is not able to draw what's in her mind. Her father cheers her up and tells her that this happens to everyone. When he goes out of town to exhibit his drawings, Gia's granny comes to stay with her and something interesting happens - Gia discovers a totally different talent! This is a beautiful book about encouraging our children to find their hidden potential and to cherish their individuality. I also love the symbolism of the 'hands' that Gee's father paints. Shreya Sen's stunning illustrations add so many layers to the story and really make the symbolism come alive for the child who is reading the book.
Children truly find many a delight in drawing henna designs on their hands. Why hasn't a picture book been written about this before? Apart from making the hands look beautiful, to a child, henna on the hands is all about art and creating new worlds in the palm of one's hand. In the story, a little girl says she loves wearing henna on her hand for weddings, celebrations and Eid but she also loves it because she simply just loves it! Squiggles and swirls, loops and curls, diamonds and dots...it is remarkable how the author puts into words exactly what makes henna on one's hands a fascinating experience for a child. I used to do the same as a child -- I would wait for the henna to dry but peel a bit off it off out of curiosity. We love how the girl's mother puts in a little cat too, along with the other beautiful designs on her hand! The art of painting a hand with henna and the elements that make it come alive -- the stunning patterns and the butterflies chasing dots -- truly make this a memorable book. Ajanta Guhathakurta's stunning illustrations of henna designs fly off the child's hands and enter other spaces too -- the garden, the trees and even the air around her, almost as if she is breezing these designs with her fingers. This is truly a beautiful book by Fawzia Gilani-Williams.
My daughter and I started reading Savitribai Phule and I by Sangeeta Mulay and we simply could not put it down. What a riveting, beautifully written book this is and how perfectly the incidents and events come together, both in the present and the past! The book is about Shabri, a Dalit girl from the village who comes to the city and struggles with her education. She encounters many prejudices and challenges until she finds a diary writen by Savitribai Pule, the famous Indian social reformer and educationist from Maharashtra who is also regarded as the first woman to become a teacher in India. The author of this book, Sangeeta Mulay, stated in an interview that she wanted to use the medium of a fictional diary entry and the overarching story of a girl living in more modern times to better convey Savitribai's life. This is such a wonderful idea and the way the author writes the story, interspersing diary entries with Shabri's own journey, is just brilliant. Most books about great women tend to also go in a linear fashion but the structure of this book captivates you and offers such an immersive, powerful experience. The idea of a Dalit girl finding inspiration from a woman who faced similar challenges is a great way to motivate and empower children. Don't miss this book!
Photo courtesy: Wake Up Books
We love it when we come across new South Asian publishing houses. The publishing space is truly vibrant and with different voices. Ramayana by Mahi Jay is a colorful and delightful version of one of the greatest epics ever written. Wake Up Books is the publisher. We know that there are so many versions of Ramayana for children but what we love is that children love and treasure each one. My daughter has read four different Ramayana picture books and loves each one for its own merits.
She could not put this book down either. We know the story and we narrate the twists and turns of its evergreen plot to our children. We convey the significance of the story and what it means for us all. This book's simple and lucid narration really hooks the child from the first page. The illustrations by Ram Bhangad are absolutely superb and dazzle the senses. The dark tones and shadows in the pictures with Dasharatha and Kaikeyi, the earthy radiance of the forest - the color palette of this book is simply stunning. Each page is a wonder to behold.
We love this new book by Devdutt Pattanaik for so many reasons. First off, my daughter and I love the vahanas of the Hindu deities. Vahanas are the animals or birds on which they ride. Our favorite is mooshika, of course, Ganesha's divine vehicle. We also love Indira's elephant and Karthikeya's peacock. This book, however, is a feast for a reason - we come to know about so many other divine vehicles of the gods. First, the book begins with the origin story of animals and birds. Long ago, the gods could not travel, so they became sad and went to Brahma, who then decides to create animals, birds and fish. We love the vahanas we come to know about in this book - Saraswati is friends with the heron because herons show signs of being able to concentrate. When they hunt fish, they can be very still. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, befriends the owl with its big round eyes because they remind her of coins. We find out about Ayyappa and his tiger, Ganga and the dolphin, and so many more deities and their vahanas! Who ends up being Brahma's vahana? Read the book to find out!
Don't miss famous mural artist Sasi Edavarad's beautiful art work and his imaginative beautiful depiction of all the deities and their vahanas. The book has short stories about each diety and how he/she found his or her vahana and coloring pages and small activities too.
Ever since the pandemic shattered our versions of the normal world, my daughter has found something she loves -- mindfulness exercises, apps and strategies. It is amazing how children are so mature that they can identify a strategy that works, while we adults hesitate to ask or reach out for help.
Ira Trivedi's Mindfulness with Moksha might be more for adults than children but my daughter and I both read it together. This book helps parents work with their children on beautiful and fun mindfulness exercises. The book has some great ideas and exercises that we absolutely loved. We loved the mindfulness walking exercise -- when you are walking, imagine that you are walking in snow or sand, leaving behind deep footprints. The book gives the exact words you need to make you and your child experience mindfulness. The words are powerful and evocative yet simple and effective. Mindful eating is our favorite too. The book also has chapters on yoga nidra, bedtime mindfulness, gratitude, creating feeling cards, handling difficult emotions, different types of breaths described in fun terms as 'bumblebee breath' and 'ha breath', and so much more. We love Moksha the elephant and Om the dog, who guide us through the book's many chapters!