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

Top 10 books for Beginners / New Readers

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Here’s a list of books with a lucid/ easy to understand writing style, no complex world-building and yet are deeply impactful. These are perfect for new readers or beginners searching for simple books to start with. Having said that, these are also some of the best books I’ve ever read.

  1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: This book tells the story of a boy struggling to cope with the consequences of his mother’s illness. Written in the most simplest of manners, it is an easy and gripping read (under 214 pages.) This book is a work of art, showcasing how simplicity is indeed the ultimate sophistication.

And if no one sees you, are you really there at all?

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RrKfCd

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Set in war-torn Afghanistan, this mesmerizing, fast paced and heartbreaking novel is a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly anger, at a dysfunctional society made more so by war. It weaves together social stigma, sisterhood, loss, love for one’s country, the role of women in the Afghan society, self-sacrifice, hope and trauma. This may seem like a daunting novel but it’ll make you love reading like no other book can.

” One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hid behind her walls” – Al Beruni

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/31MDwre

3. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: tells the story of a teenage girl suffering from acute social anxiety and depression and how her life changes for the better. This book is written in a simple, easy to understand, fast-paced manner; with inserts of text messages, making it more interesting. Even though it deals with a hard topic, it is a fun read that one keeps coming back to.

“The trouble is, depression doesn’t come with handy symptoms like spots and a temperature, so you don’t realize it at first. You keep saying ‘I’m fine’ to people when you’re not fine. You think you should be fine. You keep saying to yourself: ‘Why aren’t I fine?”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2L0rULz

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling: Written in a charming, imaginative manner, this series is an upward graph for a new reader. I read the 7 books in a week when I first got my hands on it and reread them from time to time. These books have been spellbinding (pun intended) for millions of people worldwide and are on the top of the ‘books you should read before you die’ list.

“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one that rises against them and strikes back”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZC0aRw

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: A beautiful, hard-hitting and coming of age book following Eleanor, a chubby, 16-year-old girl with curly red hair, and Park, a half-Korean, 16-year-old boy; this book deals with different social classes, domestic abuse and young love. It is a one of a kind book which makes the reader come back to it again and again.

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rn050W

6. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordian: Equal parts fun and profound, Rick Riordian’s writing style is a gift to mankind. His characters are beautifully written, the story arc executed with immense skill and his books are perfect for middle-graders, young-adults and adults alike.

“Wow,” Thalia muttered. “Apollo is hot.” 
“He’s the sun god,” I said.
“That’s not what I meant.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZGybAd

7. The Famous Five Series by Enid Blyton: The most concise and fun adventures are found within the pages of this series, each book around 200 pages. These books leave you refreshed and satisfied with beautiful countryside imagery, delicious food and marvelous exploits.

“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.” 

Get Book 1 on Amazon for Rs 158: https://amzn.to/2ZJtMfV

8. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton: One the best books I read this year, this outstanding coming-of-age novel is equal parts adventure and revealing of society’s brutal follies. Dealing with gang-culture, dysfunctional families, drug abuse and adolescence, this book will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

“Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.” 

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y4c2eA

9. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth: A well written dystopia, this triology is based in a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five different factions, which removes the threat of anyone exercising independent will and threatening the population’s safety. (source-wikipedia). Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior navigates the dangers of being divergent while trying to survive in her new faction.

When I first read this book, I remember thinking and being in wonder at how perfect Roth’s writing style was. Perfect for a new reader,this book deals with self-dicovery, young-love, society and social issues. A critic claims, “No one can argue that Divergent is not a fun, edge-of-your-seat read. It is easy to get submerged in, effortless to remain engaged in, and impossible not to enjoy even the slightest bit.”

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” 

Get the series on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rw4BdO

10. Heidi by Johanna Spyri: Heidi is written in a freely flowing, imaginative and well-paced style. 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 encompasses the themes of Family and relationships, Empathy and Religion (Christianity). It is written in a simple, unaffected manner and calls for several re-reads for the pure joy that oozes out of its pages.

“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”

Get it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Rz5JNT

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Recommendations from other readers:

  1. Fatimah, Kashmir (Instagram: @fatimahbatul.7) : The Harry Potter Series, The Grisha Triology, the Hunger Games, Coraline, Norse Mythology, The Kite Runner, Six of Crows, Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.
  2. Kat, USA (Instagram @fieldsofliterature) : Jane Eyre, Fangirl, Everything Everything, Pride and Prejudice.
  3. Maira, Pakistan (Instagram @maira.reads) : The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Kaise West’s novels, the Harry Potter Series.
  4.  Abbie Ruis, USA (Instagram @epochnovels): The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh (magic, fantasy, adventure, friendship, romance.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (well-written characters, banter is off the charts, fighting is kickass), An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir ( political corruption, violence, Ancient Rome), Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (YA historical fiction).
  5. Tanya, Australia (Instagram: @pagestoberead) : The Harry Potter Series, The Kite Runner
  6. Fatima, New York (Instagram @starry_tima) : The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  7. Miran Gulzar, Kashmir (Instagram: @miran_gulzar): Letters to Young Poets by Rainer Maria Rilke (highly recommended), Old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond, The Little Prince, Maus (graphic novel).
  8. Ruby, England (http://rubysbooksblog.wordpress.com/) :A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
  9. Sadiya, Kashmir (Instagram @salazarsaddler) : The Goosebumps series.
  10. Nel, UK (Instagram: @nelwhichcraftsbooks): The Harry Potter Series, The Twilight Series.
  11. Ifreen Raveen, Kashmir (Instagram: @ifreen.raveen) The Famous Five series, Sophie Kinsella’s books.

Happy reading.

~ Saadia

 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Book Review

20190521_202927.pngBelieved to be the 1st attempt at science-fiction, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly is a Gothic novel that starts off with Dr Victor Frankenstein’s creation of a human turned monster and centers around the occurrences that follow this unnatural event.

  1. Title: The book was initially titled Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus but the subtitle was removed in later publications. This, in my opinion, has contributed to the misconception of the monster being called ‘Frankenstein’ when it was never named in the book. While the original title and subtitle together referred to Dr Frankenstein’s feat of giving life to an amalgam of body parts, usage of the title alone has led to a popular belief that it refers to the monster.  Of course, the adaptations of the novel in the form of movies and plays have played a larger role in doing that.
  2. Writing Style: Personally, I found the writing style to lack flow. The first 100 pages read like Victor Frankenstein was voicing thoughts as they came. This heavily retarded the pace of the book for me. However, the book begins to gain some pace after the 1st 100 pages with the beginning of the monster’s account.
  • Narration: All 3 narrators had the same voice, as pointed out by various critics. This made the book monotonous.
  • Characters: While there were really only 2 main characters, the side characters lacked depth and description. It almost felt like they appeared whenever necessary, to carry the book onward but the reader never got to know much about their stories, background or values.
  1. Themes: Science fiction, Gothic horror, guilt, ambition and its consequences/thirst for glory, the struggle against societal control, the contrast between isolation and society.
  2. Rating: 1/5 stars

Based on:

  • It took me a long, long while to get through
  • Didn’t gain much value from it
  • The story wasn’t absorbing at all
  • The ending fell short of the buildup of the last 124 pages
  • The downfall trope was heavy in Victor Frankenstein’s character
  • Uni-dimensional side characters
  • No description of the process that breathed life into the monster’s body

Frankenstein on Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0007350961/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=0007350961&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=47ebefad7761b8325867d7883007bd83

~ Saadia

 

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Book Review, Themes and Rating | Saadia Peerzada

ee05d628328a957ebe7a2e545cf26e89.jpgAll The Bright Places opens with two distraught teenagers wanting to end their lives. They find themselves atop the bell tower at school at the same time. The story progresses into how they wander together, mediate new highs and lows or fail to, fall in love and above all, see a silver of brightness in each other’s company.

Review: Niven’s profound understanding of mental illness translates into her writing beautifully. The portrayal of depression, both clinical and induced by loss and the ‘high highs’ and the very ‘low lows’ arising from bipolar disorder are written with such poise and honesty that the reader is effectively able to understand these illnesses. The element of dysfunctional family added to the multidimensional nature of the book and touched another lingering social issue.

The character building is so original and moving that you forget that they are fictional for a moment. Finch’s character was beautifully written, his struggle flowed through the words with ease. The writing is poetic and enchanting which is, for me, one of the main reasons that separated this book from the masses

This was one of the 1st and most important books that educated me about the personal struggle with mental illness and reflected my own struggle with it as I read this book during a dark time in life. This book has inspired me to write 2 poems, 1 of which is: https://www.instagram.com/p/Boq8YWKFitj/

I’d recommend this book to everyone. It is alluring and heartbreaking in equal parts and its absolute beauty amazes me every day.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Themes:

  1.  Mental Health & Mental Illness
  2. Exploration of Death
  3. Family
  4. Hope
  5. Exploration

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Get this book from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LHRI0I

Other books by the author: https://amzn.to/2HnfNVn – Holding Up the Universe

Jennifer Niven’s website: http://www.jenniferniven.com/ and twitter: https://twitter.com/jenniferniven?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Ig: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferniven/?hl=en

~ Saadia

 

 

 

 

Rent Party Jazz by William Miller – Book Review, Themes and Rating.

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Rent Party Jazz is a short book about a young boy Sonny Comeaux and his mother living in New Orleans in poverty and how an empathetic stranger helps them pay rent and stay in their lodgings.

Review: This book represents the conditions of African-Americans in the 1920s and onwards realistically. The elements of optimism, empathy and love within the community made this a heart-warming read. This book, within a few pages, shows how art can bring people together and help us be more hopeful in times of hardship and impending disaster. The illustrations by Charlotte Riley Web are a perfect fit to the story line.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Themes: 

  1.  African-American representation
  2. Poverty
  3. Responsibility
  4. Hope
  5. Community
  6. Empathy
  7. Art (Music)

Grab yourself a copy here:

https://amzn.to/2HoucRj

Or you can listen to it on YouTube:

~ Saadia