10 Children’s Books that will bring you Joy

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I’ve always had a special place for books written for children, be it the unassuming descriptions, marvelous adventures, vivid descriptions of the country and food or the lessons that many adults seem to have missed out on. Here are 10 such books that have brought me sustained joy and I hope they do the same for you:

  1. As Fast as words could fly by Pamela M Tuck: This is a story of how a black boy, using his confidence and typing skills faces challenges in a ‘white-only’ school in the 60s. Giving a child’s account of the effort to end segregation, this book shows how society’s burdens rest on the smallest of shoulders even though it may not seem so. Further, this book successfully shows how our worth is determined by our actions more than any other label society may use as a yardstick.
  2. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl: Progressing from a sad and disheartening orphan story to a shared adventure, culminating in a joyful close, Dahl’s first book is a conglomerate of fantasy, magic and delightful adventure.
  3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: Capturing both the soaring spirits of youth and the calm resignation of old age, The Giving Tree shows the relationship between a tree and a young boy and how it changes as he grows older. The author’s ability to capture the stillness of endurance in the face of departing from one’s own self is awe inspiring.
  4. Charlotte’s Web by E.B White: Defined as a “tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death,” this book shows the importance of true friends and the immense value they add to our lives.
  5. To be a Drum by Evelyn Coleman: The drum, a long held symbol of African roots is invoked by a father when he teaches his children about how the self becomes this symbol and how this becoming has sustained their ancestors through slavery, wars and the Civil Rights Movement. This book stays with you long after you’ve read it.
  6. The Elves and the Shoemaker by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: A classic Grimm’s fairytale for many children is recreated yet another time by LaMarche’s warm and beautiful illustrations. This story traverses through how a poor shoemaker receives much-needed help from two young elves and how the circle of kindness is completed.
  7. The Tooth by Avi Slodovnick: A story of the innocence of childhood and empathy, Slodovnick weaves a simple dentist’s visit into something greater and more nuanced through the eyes of a child.
  8. Somebody Loves you, Mr Hatch by Eileen Spinelli: This story of friendship, community and reaching out, coupled with Paul Yalowitz’s dreamy illustrations makes for a jolly read and on a deeper thought, makes us question our enforced mundanity into our daily lives.
  9. Till the Clouds Roll by by Ruskin Bond: Trying to escape the unfamiliar place of his mother’s new family, 10 year old Ruskin loses himself in books, forests and markets of the town, forming friendships and creating lifelong memories along the way. The illustrations by Mihir Joglekar add comfort and simple beauty to the book.
  10. The Coal Thief by Alane Adams: Yet another story of empathy or the compassion taught by suffering, as Kahlil Gibran calls it, The Coal Thief shows how humanity can survive in the coldest and dreariest of times. As the coal warms up a community, the resilience of love warms the reader’s heart.

~ Saadia

Turning Antonyms into Paradoxes by Aarushi Kataria – Book Review

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“It is better to be together than alone in an obliterated city amongst people with decimated morals that can’t appreciate art.”

Turning Antonyms into Paradoxes is a collection of poetic prose and verse spread across 10 chapters spanning people, cities, literature and other muses poets usually find themselves influenced by. Seeking to draw opposites in a way that makes us ask if there really is a stark dichotomy between life and death or art and the artist, Kataria narrows down the space between them.

Written in a dreamy way, it will appeal to those who love reading books steeped in romanticism (Fitzgerald fans, take notes). The prose coupled with verse and also illustrations by Ariana Gupta make for a well rounded experience. Written by the author at the age of 16, the ideas dealt with transcend what modern poetry seems to have become in these times. The excitement of young love, family, doubt, loss and death have been done justice with lyrical words.

This book can serve young writers and poets looking for inspiration or weathered poets wanting to look back on how words take form in the work of young poets.

Happy Reading.

~ Saadia

 

Massacred Town

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There is a black hole

where the last memory of a lover resides,

you call, unaware, that they’ve died 40 days back,

The speakers ring with subtle hope, inna ma al usri yusra*,

the evening prayer fades into torture cries

ringing from the same speakers.

There is a gaping hole

where images of twisted young bodies

are yellow under incandescent bulbs,

where blood trickles

from perforated backs and unseeing eyes.

~ Saadia,

On the day Shahid left us to embellish this massacre with our words

 

*Arabic: Verily with pain comes ease.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare – Book Review

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“Will rose slowly to his feet. “If there is a life after this one,” he said, “let me meet you in it, James Carstairs.”

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy. – Goodreads

Genre: Urban fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult.

Review: I rated this book 3/5 stars, the major reason being the beautiful, heart wrenching and haunting portrayal of Will and Jem’s parabatai bond. Other than that, the plot wasn’t mind-blowing in any sense; rather it was melodramatic throughout the 3 books in the series. The storyline was predictable and many chapters seemed to add nothing to the story. The story arc wasn’t executed well; the ending felt compromising and the antagonist was shallow, with vague reasons for his evil plans. Considering the hype surrounding it, it didn’t live up to the expectations.

While the book isn’t slow-paced, some scenes are stretched out without reason which hinders the flow of the story. Clare followed through with several annoying tropes that made this book reminiscent of SJ Maas books.

This book and this series are often portrayed as better than the Mortal Instruments. This can be seen in the fact that the protagonist isn’t as annoying and that the parabatai are closer and more true to the definition. But the plot of The Mortal Instruments series is more varied and adventurous than TID even if it suffers from (more) aggravating tropes.

On the brighter side, Tessa and Will’s shared love of books and poetry was shown well; with the reader being introduced to some beautiful verses from Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare and Tennyson. Will’s memories of Jem’s love, kindness and patience for him saved the book for me, personally, because the emotions were dealt with beautifully, with raw and mesmerizing depiction of brotherhood and a family beyond blood. The epilogue is beautifully written and tugs at the heart-strings, so do some paragraphs listed below. Will’s and Jem’s character was crafted with fascinating charm and makes the reader care for them with intensity.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about Families, Paranormal romance, Poetry, Victorian Literature and Love Triangles.

Themes:

  1. Victorian Society and women’s position in it
  2. Family
  3. Self-discovery
  4. Friendship
  5. Love
  6. Magic & Fantasy

“And now I need you to do for me what I cannot do for myself. For you to be my eyes when I do not have them. For you to be my hands when I cannot use my own. For you to be my heart when mine is done beating.”

“She leaned forward and caught at his hand, pressing it between her own. The touch was like white fire through his veins. You kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire. He had wondered once why love was always phrased in terms of burning. The conflagration in his own veins, now, gave the answer.”

“Bright star,” Magnus said, and his eyes were thoughtful, as if he were remembering something, or someone. “Those of you who are mortal, you burn so fiercely. And you fiercer than most, Will. I will not ever forget you.”

“You know that feeling,” she said, “when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged behind a carriage and you cannot let go or turn the course aside.”

Get Clockwork Princess on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IoAHoA

The Infernal Devices on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FeWSLZ

~ Saadia

Heidi by Johanna Spyri – Book review, Plot Summary, Themes and Rating

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Heidi is a children’s book written by the Swiss author Johanna Spyri. It was initially published in 2 parts and written in German. It is one the best-selling books ever written about the childhood years of a girl living with her grandfather in the Alps.

Plot Summary: The book opens with Heidi being taken to the Alps to live with her grandfather by her aunt Dete. Dete has cared for Heidi since she was a baby as both of her parents had died under grievous circumstances but now she had a job offer and could no longer take care of her. The villagers are unsettled by this decision as Uncle Alp, Heidi’s grandfather, is known to be resentful and solitary and had renounced religion. However, after some initial reluctance, they form a close bond. Heidi loves living in the mountains and holds the beauty of nature and its vibrant colors close to her heart. She befriends Peter and his grandmother and brings joy to everyone she interacts with by her simple and unaffected behavior.

Aunt Dete appears after having left Heidi for a good while. She comes with the news of having found a job in Frankfurt for Heidi as a companion to a physically-challenged girl, Clara. Dete claims that this experience would be valuable to Heidi as Grandfather hadn’t  sent her to school or church. Heidi’s departure leaves Grandfather and Peter’s grandmother in dismay. In Frankfurt, Heidi learns to love Clara and Clara’s grandmother, who teaches her about the importance of prayer and submission to God. On the other hand, the forbidding Miss Rottenmeier makes Heidi unhappy. She starts missing the mountains quickly and grows more miserable by the day. Phantom occurrences are revealed to be Heidi in a state of sleepwalking because of her homesickness. A kind doctor advises that Heidi must return to the mountains to restore her health.

She returns to the ever-sprightly mountains and its people and brings more light into their lives while gaining happiness herself. Due to Heidi’s words and encouragement, Grandfather returns to religion and they go to Church together. He also renounces his solitary ways and makes peace with the people of the village.

Clara visits the Alps later and is nursed back to color with the help of Grandfather’s hospitality, the nutritious homemade food and the mountain air. She starts getting healthier and stronger by the day. Peter, being envious of her monopolizing Heidi’s time,  causes her wheelchair to break. Surprisingly though, with help from Heidi and Peter, Clara begins to walk. Clara’s father promises Grandfather that he will take care of Heidi when the old man dies.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Review: Heidi is written in a freely flowing, imaginative and well-paced style. The author has successfully portrayed a child’s character as unaffected and simple, yet kind and empathetic. The character building is effective and true to real life. Even though it is a children’s fiction, it can easily and competently be read by people of all ages with immense enjoyment. It stays snug within its genre yet manages to push the boundaries and become something more. This is the reason why it has become the symbol of Swiss folklore around the world and stayed alive for 138+ years. The language is lucid and immersive. The author intermixes humor and important, valuable lessons throughout the second half of the book.

Heidi’s character is relatable to anyone who has experienced homesickness/ lived away from home. Reading about her thought process and unending sympathy is refreshing and rejuvenating.  This book would be perfect for anyone, at anytime. It is incredibly relaxing and great for a weekday afternoon.

Scholastic edition: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/9352755758/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=9352755758&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=005328c94c32bd531287aa64c22441ec

 

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Themes: 

  1. The healing power of nature.
  2. Family and relationships.
  3. Empathy
  4. Religion (Christianity)

“I’ll always say my prayers… and if God doesn’t answer them at once I shall know it’s because He’s planning something better for me.”

“The happiest of all things is when an old friend comes and greets us as in former times; the heart is comforted with the assurance that some day everything that we have loved will be given back”

”It’s the sun’s way of saying goodnight to the mountains” he explained. ”He spreads that beautiful light over them so that they won’t forget him till he comes back in the morning.”

~ Saadia

True Self care

20190418_185529.jpgI’ve realised that escaping grief leads to unanswered questions. It prevents you from learning about your problems and hence prolongs them.

True self care is hard, its messy and slow but its a skill we all need to acquire.

Art by Barooja (https://www.instagram.com/barooja/)