Monday, 31 March 2014

Day 26 to Day 30 - 30 books in 30 days Challenge


This brings us to the last 5 days of this very exciting, enriching 30 day reading challenge by The Bubble Ink.

March 26, 2014 - Day 26 - Reading Prompt – Gardens
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. - Marcus Tullius Cicero
We were to read books that celebrate gardens.

Bubble Ink picks - 
My Garden                                        - Kevin Henkes
Inch by Inch, The garden song             - David Mallet Illustrated by Ora Eitan
Sunu Sunu - Snail Storm in the garden - Sandhya Rao, Tulika Publishers

We read 'Bees and Butterflies', a sparkly book by Gina Philips. Beatrice Bee and Bella Butterfly show each other and our little reader how they are important to create and preserve beautiful gardens. 'Little Fox's Picnic' by Debi Gliori is about a bunch of friends who go on a picnic to a garden on a lovely summer day. 'The Oak Tree' is a simple reader book that educates about different parts of a tree. We also read 'Pepper learns about recycling' and 'Pepper learns to take turns'. The last was another reader book by Disney, 'How does your garden grow?

A good book shared today was 'The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein. All of us would have surely read or heard this story in our childhood. Watch this video here.

March 27, 2014 - Day 27 - Reading Prompt –  Birthday

Bubble Ink picks -
How many sleeps before my Birthday - Mark Sperring
Happy Birthday, Biscuit                     - Alyssa Capucilli
Surprise Gifts                                     - Asha Nehemiah

We read 'Little Honey' which is the only book we have on Happy Birthday…. and we were quite startled by that revelation! We also read 'Pepper and the new baby' since my little one insisted that being born is also similar to having a birthday! A very endearing birthday book that we want to have in our library is 'Gorilla' by Anthony Browne. We read the book in a school library and fell in love with it!

‘The Secret Birthday message’ by Eric Carle is an interesting book. Here is a link for the same.

March 28, 2014 - Day 28 - Reading Prompt – Grandparents
Grandparents make the world , a little softer, a litter kinder and a little warmer. The reading prompt honours the grandparents.

Bubble Ink picks -
Just Grandma, Grandpa and me     - Mercer Mayer
Nana upstairs, Nana downstairs     - Tomie de Paola
Days with Thathu                         - Geeta Dharmarajan

I was ruing about this prompt coming up!  I should have armed myself since I expected it! My baby came up with Grandpa Pig from the Peppa Pig series when I informed her about the prompt. But we don’t have any of those books! We read 'Pepper learns to keep a promise', where Pepper goes off to play forgetting his promise to not leave his old Grandpa alone at home, causing a minor mishap! Pepper pledges to henceforth 'try' to keep his promise. We also read 'The Little Red Riding Hood'. A favourite with my daughter but I don’t like the Usborne story where the wolf actually gobbles up the granny and LRRH and the woodcutter snips off the wolf's tummy to get them out! Horrifying! The Ladybird version is much milder and I find that better. But the former is owned and the latter was from the library! I am definitely buying more books on this prompt!

March 29, 2014 - Day 29 - Reading Prompt –  Read in your Native Language
The prompt honoured each of our native languages. Hence, there were no reading picks. Our native language is Tamil and our national language is Hindi, so we picked books in these languages.

Daddy and baby did the reading today. They read 'Dosa' by Sandhya Rao, Tulika books. Amma is dishing out yummy dosas for Bapa, who is immersed in the newspaper. When amma calls out to Bapa, 'Tell me when to stop', he incredulously asks, 'Stop? When did you start?' Amma comes out to check and the plate is empty! Who ate the dosas - or should I say, who ate the doshais? :-) A simple, sweet, tiny little story to amuse your kiddo. They also read 'Beej' in Hindi by Deepa Balsavar. A simple story on germination and how the excited little girl wonders about what the little seed will grow into. Very nice illustrations. Love to see Indian characters etched on books!  Dadi with her huge red bindi, Dadaji with his Gandhi chashma, Didi in salwar-kurta, Maa in her oiled, braided hair.. its all so lovely! Then they read 'Daddy's little star' (out of the theme). Little Fox is walking with daddy in the forest and wonders how high does the sky really go? Daddy churns out a game out of this and in the end, Little Fox realises that just like our love, the sky goes on forever!

We got a lot of suggestions for books in Tamil. The good part is Tulika and other Indian publications are doing a great job with printing books in a number of Indian languages, beside English. This is great encouragement and we would love to read more books in Tamil! 

March 30, 2014 - Day 30 - Reading Prompt –  Read your favourite book
Being the last day of the challenge , we were to read on any theme - our child's favourite book, the one she wants to be read to again and again or just any book that she chooses.

We did not want to read our favourite books for some reason today! So we read 'Dad! I cant sleep!' by Michael Foreman. We read 'Peter's Pebbles' by Cherie Zamazing. A superb story on adventure, fantasy, imagination and pebble painting as a hobby. We love this book! We also read 'Green Eggs and Ham' by Dr Seuss - our current favourite, which was declared only today!

And so ended the glorious month of the '30 books in 30 days Reading Challenge, hosted by The Bubble Ink. There are fantastic takeaways - learning about beautiful books, authors and genres, meeting so many like minded mums who participated enthusiastically and shared their reads, knowing about so many wonderful initiatives in Bangalore and Mumbai in the field of children's picture books and libraries - it was a priceless experience. I thank The Bubble Ink for the same. 

I have begun blogging here on children's books thanks to this challenge. I shall now begin to post my experiences of reading with my little one regularly. Hopefully, these records will be handy to you when you want to reach out to an interesting book to read to your baby. You can subscribe to this blog by sharing on email or via RSS feed so that you do not miss on any review. Yay!! I am excited, eager and raring to go! :-) 

Day 21 to Day 25 - 30 books in 30 days Challenge


Lets see what we did in these 5 days of The Bubble Ink reading challenge!

March 21, 2014 - Day 21 - Reading Prompt – Sing Along
The reading prompt was in honour of  Children’s poetry day. We were to read books that can be sung as songs. There is also a video link provided with the picks to sing-along with your little ones.

Bubble Ink picks –
Over in the meadow   - Illustrated by Jill McDonald, Sung by Susan Reed (Personal top favourite!) 
Personal Penguin - Sandra Boynton
Oluguti Toluguti - Sandhya Rao, Radhika Menon, Tulika Publishers 

Not much research done in this area, I'm afraid, but that will soon be corrected! Thank you again, The Bubble Ink for enlightening us! What we read-sang together was 'Ten in the bed' by Penny Dale for the second time in this challenge. We also unearthed our board book of nursery rhymes and sang together! We read our library reader book - The Ugly Duck Thing' as well. With a reminder from a friend, we later saw a sing along video of another of our favourite books - We are going on a bear hunt!.  We forgot about another sing along which we used to listen to some time ago. Karadi Tales – Ganesha meets Kubera – a melodious classical style song in English. The animations are quite different and colourful. 

Barefoot Books was a treasure trove of such sing along songs. We found a playlist of all of their sing along songs. This is now played regularly at our place now!

‘Anushka’s Puppets of India’ is a book that was mentioned today -the original idea is of a 5 year old girl, Anushka and the book was written by her with a little help from her mother, Arthi Anand, who is an author of children's books herself. I am amazed by the idea of a 5 year old girl’s imagination giving birth to a lovely book. Ah, the power of books and the magic of stories! Irresistible! I have to lay my hands on this one for sure.

March 22, 2014 - Day 22 - Reading Prompt – What I wear

Bubble Ink picks –
Hippo Has a Hat - Julia Donaldson
Flyaway Katie         - Polly Dunbar 
My Mother's Sari - Sandhya Rao, Tulika Publishers

So many books again! Yay! We started with our baby board book - 'Things to wear'. We then read one of our favourites - ''The Smartest Giant in Town' - a Julia Donaldson must have! We read 'Tania's Tutu' from 'Stories for 5 year olds by Igloo Books. A very apt book for this prompt, where Tania wants a perfect tutu for her ballerina dance - when she is upset that she doesn’t have one, her mom collects fabric, shoes, sequins, lace, beads and buttons, ribbons and thread and stitches a perfect tutu for her darling girl! We also read 'Little Red Riding Hood' (The Brothers Grimm), story of a girl who was famous for the cloak she wore! A quirky, humorous book we read was 'The Queen's Knickers' by Nicholas Allan. Believe it or not, it is about the different types of knickers that the Queen of England wears! 

A very interesting book that was suggested was ‘Alphabet Dress Up’ by Selina Alko. A refreshing change from the usual princess and ballerina dress-up, pretend play options. Take a look at this trailer here.

March 23, 2014 - Day 23 - Reading Prompt – Best Friends
Like Peanut Butter and Jelly
Pen and Paper
Moon and stars
Socks and shoes
Cows and Moos
Hot chocolate in Winter
Flowers and Spring
Somehow we just fit - you and me

The Best of Friends.

Bubble Ink picks -
Bink & Gollie         - Best Friends Forever: Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Handa's surprise - Eileen Browne 
Mukund and Riaz - Nina Sabnani, Tulika Publishers

Too many books again today! We read ' Handa's Surprise'. This is one book where, when we were on the 2nd page, my baby gives this serene smile on her face and tells me, 'Amma, I love this book!' You have to read it to feel it really - Highly recommended. We read 'Mouse, Mole and the Falling Star' (A Very Special Wish, Little Tiger Press) . A beautiful book on the spirit of friendship. 2 best friends are drawn apart due to greed and selfish wants (to possess a shooting star so that their personal wishes come true). When loneliness greets them in the face, they realise that nothing gives you more happiness than being together and celebrating the gift of friendship. Then we read ' Tales from the Bhagawata Purana' - everyone's favourite tale of ever lasting friendship that beats all odds, ' Krishna and Sudama'. We read 2 stories of best friends from 'Stories for 5 year olds' - Igloo Books - 'Noah's adventure' and 'The Best Den, Ever'.

March 24, 2014 - Day 24 - Reading Prompt – Inside your outside 
We were to read books on body parts.

Bubble Ink picks –
Where is my Belly Button - Karen Katz
Inside your outside - Tish Rabe
Little Fingers                    - Sheila Dhir, Tulika Publishers

We didn't have any books as such for the prompt. The closest we found and what we read was 'The Robot', a HarperCollins book, where 2 wacky inventors build a robot by putting together various parts like, the body, hands, arms, foot, legs etc. The other book we read was 'Mia and her Toothbrush' from the 'Max and Mia series. This was a childhood favourite and my little one used to say every line in the whole book when she was 2. Mia hates to brush her teeth and ends up with bits of food in her mouth and a subsequent toothache, making her flee to the toothbrush who is eager to help!

The Bubble Ink suggested a superb book later in the day – ‘The day it rained letters’, by Nury Vittachi. We would love to lay our hands on this one. Sounds brilliant!

March 25, 2014 - Day 25 - Reading Prompt – Food
Pancakes were first made on this day in 1882. The reading prompt honoured that.

Bubble Ink picks –
Pancakes, Pancakes - Eric Carle
Stone Soup                      - Retold and Illustrated by Jon Muth
Junior Kumbhakarna         - Arundhati Venkatesh and Shreya Sen, Tulika Publishers

We read 'Where there's a bear, there's trouble!' by Michael Catchpool. There's a yellow bee, followed by a brown bear, followed by 2 greedy geese, followed by 3 shy mice. All following the other in anticipation of food - bear for honey, geese for berries, mice for corn. And ultimately - bee stings for all!  Cute little story! The second book we read was 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' by Judith Kerr. Sophie and her mum are given a surprise visit by a hungry tiger. He eats and drinks up everything in the house from sandwiches to buns, biscuits to cake, tea to milk, juice to beer and all the water in the tap. When dad comes home, there's nothing for supper so they all go to a cafe and have sausages and chips and ice-cream. And that’s the story. Maybe I'm missing the kinky humour here, but I really did not find the book amusing. It's a nice read, and that's it! A loved the book with its illustrations of the kind and smiling tiger.We also read a book out of the theme, 'The Tiny Seed' by Eric Carle, a copy that we got from the library yesterday. We loved the book. Mr Carle is a magician! Simple story written with such clarity of thought. 

Though we haven’t yet purchased or read any books from the suggested picks, all 3 sound wonderful and we would want to read them soon.

Happy Reading!

Day 16 to Day 20 - 30 books in 30 days Challenge


Showcased below is the reading done and the books shared from Day 16 to Day 20 of the Bubble Ink reading challenge!

March 16, 2014 - Day 16 -  Reading Prompt – I feel
Happy, sad, angry, excited, bored - Books that talk about these feelings.

Bubble Ink picks –
Baby Happy Baby Sad - Leslie Particelli
My many colored days - Dr Seuss
Siri's smile                   - R. Amerendran, Tulika Publishers

We planned to read the complete set of Pepper books that we have, all 20 of them, for this prompt. The books are more of a character building series, but in the process they talk about feelings. We initially read 6 books at one go – they are really tiny stories and we have read them a number of times earlier. Eventually, we could read only 4 more books later in the day!

March 17, 2014 - Day 17 -  Reading Prompt – Colours
Today was Holi!! Hence the obvious prompt!

Bubble Ink picks –
Blue Chameleon                            - Emily Gravett
Pete the cat - I love my white shoes - Eric Litwin
Purple Jojo                                    - Sameera Zia Qureshi, Tulika Publishers
Ranganna                                       - Arti Anand Navaneeth, Tulika Publishers 

Happy Holi!! We played Holi, this time far away from home and friends, but still enjoyed our multi-colour look a lot! :-) We read 2 books today - 1. The mythological one behind the festival, Prahlad - The story of Holi. My pumpkin loves the Holika story so much that this story is honoured with multiple readings in a month! And to be in line with the theme, we read 'Little Honey'. Little Honey is a little bear who wishes for a pink birthday party, but to her disappointment, all her friends come dressed in other colours and even the gifts turn out to be everything other than pink. When she couldn't hide her disappointment any more, her friends give her a surprise by dressing up in all the pink wrapping papers and ribbons! She calls her birthday party a Best Friends Party!

Pranav’s picture is a book that has been discussed a lot in this challenge, so that is something that I’d want to pick up.

March 18, 2014 - Day 18 -  Reading Prompt – Tuck Me In

Bubble Ink Picks-
Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown
Tuck Me In         - Dean Hacohen
I am so Sleepy   - Radhika Chadha, Tulika Publishers

We read 3 books today - 'Ten in the Bed' by Penny Dale - we sang as we read along and A did her action scenes as she does them at school. The second book was  'Dad! I can’t sleep' by Michael Foreman. The last one was 'Bouncy Bouncy Bedtime' by David Bedford - a happy calming bedtime story about a bouncy bed being ready in the sky and how different sleepyheads soon fill it up.

Though we did not buy any books from today’s suggestions, 2 of the 3 books we read today were purchased earlier this month. Both are very good reads!

March 19, 2014 - Day 19 -  Reading Prompt – Monsters and Dragons
There was a revelation today – Today was World Story Telling day. This is celebrated each year on March 20 and there is a theme assigned each year. This year’s prompt is Monsters and Dragons, and that was the reading prompt. We were doing it a day earlier, as March 20th was assigned for something else.

Bubble Ink Picks-
Again                             - Emily Gravett
Where the wild things are - Maurice Sendak
The Pleasant Rakshasa - Sowmya Rajendran, Tulika Publishers

Super prompt! We were in a frenzy today!  We cut the red ribbon with 'The return of the Jabberwock', inspired by a very famous poem (I've never heard of it, though!) by Lewis Carroll called Jabberwocky. A little boy goes hunting for a monster into the deep dark woods. The story is very similar to that of 'The Gruffalo's Child', but made interesting in a poem format. The second book we read was 'The Ravenous Beast' by Niamh Sharkey. This one was very interesting with different animals trying to say how hungry they are and how much they could eat, only to find themselves eaten whole in the end by the Ravenous Beast! A very funny end though Mommy liked this better than baby. We then read 'A Beasty Story' which is about people trying to scare each other trying to be floating monsters! The next was 'Room on the Broom' by Julia Donaldson - this one is about a witch, but as pointed out by my daughter, who had already read it in school, there is a fire-spewing dragon in the story and so, this was her choice for today's prompt! And saving the best for the last, what monster story telling day would be complete without reading' The Gruffalo'!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves today!

March 20, 2014 - Day 20 - Reading Prompt – The Very Hungry Caterpillar 
Today was the 45th anniversary of the captioned book. The reading prompt honours the book and its author, Eric Carle.

We are huge fans of the book, just like it is a favourite in households across the world. Count with those little fingers. Avoid junk and eat healthy. Life cycle of a butterfly. Believe in Change and Dream On!! The book has it all.

Happy World Story Telling day!!  May the magic of stories prevail forever and ever and ever!  We did full justice to it and will continue later in the day as well! I took the opportunity today to show my munchkin almost all the You Tube videos of different books featured in the challenge from Day One! The books, the storytelling, the learning from them and the pure joy.... we thoroughly enjoyed! We then read 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and thanked Eric Carle for the gift of his wonderful imagination that enchants our tiny tots! We also read 'Pinocchio', 'Where do kisses come from? and Animal Moral Stories.

And along with 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' book on the picture above is a caterpillar craft that we did with empty egg cartons! :-)

End of 20 days! Happy Reading! :-)

Day 11 to Day 15 - 30 books in 30 days Challenge


Let’s look at what we did between day 11 and day 15 of the Bubble Ink reading challenge!

March 11, 2014 - Day 11 -  Reading Prompt – Now I know my ABC
Now this prompt generated some comments on the right way to learn our letters, what with most schools now following the phonics method of teaching than the traditional good ol’ ABC. Frankly, I don’t see the big divide – maybe due to my ignorance, but A goes to a school that teaches letters the phonics way but I can’t see why that would be a deterrent to read letters the traditional way! ABC books are fun and come on, how are you to ignore them anyway? A has been looking at ABC books and the phonics songs on You Tube ever since she started crawling and seems to me that she made the transition quite okay!

Bubble Ink Picks –
Chicka Chicka ABC           - Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
The day it rained letters - Nury Vittachi
Hey, That's an A - Jerry Pinto, Tulika Publishers

We read our first Dr Seuss book today, from our newly acquired collection, thanks to the Bubble Ink. We read ABC. Must say, his style is totally different from anything that we have read till now! His crazy words like Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz and Fiffer-feffer-feff kept my little one in splits! Loved our introduction to Dr Seuss! The second book we read was actually an alphabet book, which I unearthed from the bottom of our collection. The book is all about interesting adjectives , like Appetising Apple, Vain Vulture, Playful Puppet etc.

There weren’t really any books as takeaway on this day. My girl is 4 now, so beyond the age for ABC, though I intend to look at, ‘Hey, that’s an A’ by Jerry Pinto. 'The day it rained letters' sounds wow!

March 12, 2014 - Day 12 -  Reading Prompt – Acts of Kindness and Sharing
Today’s prompt was in honour of Girl Scouts Day.

Bubble Ink Picks –
One of Each                              - Mary Ann Hoberman
Plant a Kiss                               - Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The mountain that loved the bird - Alice Mclerran By Tulika Publishers

They also posted a little lyric on the prompt – 
Kindness – 
It s just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won't have any,
Lend it, Spend it, give it away and it comes right back to you! 

Lots of books and stories again for this prompt! And all the picks mentioned above sound so good, I want to have them all! We read 'Andy - A good little ant and 'Nice and Nasti' from the book of Animal Moral Stories, both of which teach you that you should show kindness to people irrespective of how they behave towards you. We read the story of 'Rantideva' a generous king from the Bhagavata Purana and his acts of generosity towards his poeple, without giving a thought about his own basic needs. We read 'Beauty and the Beast', [actually the book read to us, it is an audio book].This was my pick because I like to point out to my little one how the 2 characters are kind and loving to each other in spite of the obvious diversities in their personalities. The last book we read was 'Magic Vessels', which is a re-telling of a folktale from Tamil Nadu (a precious Tulika possession!) . It is a story of playful little tree spirits who are kind and helpful to the simple and naive Muthu and Chellam. That’s a lot of reading we did today!

Though we haven’t purchased any books from today’s suggestions yet, many of them are on my list, like, ‘Rainbow Fish’, ‘Plant a Kiss’ and ‘Rainbow Crow’.  They all sound so wonderful! One book that I am surely buying is ‘Stone Soup’. This book is an age old fable and is available in many versions, but the one which really appealed to me is this. Another book shared was ‘What I like about me’ by Allia Zobel Nolan – I’ve bid for this on Ebay, let’s hope I win it!

March 13, 2014 - Day 13 -  Reading Prompt – Wonder Wheels – Things that go

Bubble Ink picks –
Freight Train                                         – Donald Crews
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction site – Sherry Duskey
Runaway Wheel                                   – Asha Nehemiah

We read 'The Railway Children' (this could have been read on so many different prompts that have appeared here!). This is not really a book for a 4-year old, I guess, as I could see her getting distracted, but nevertheless, a good book. We then read 'The Fat Controller', which is a Thomas and Friends series book. The Fat Controller is the Station-In-Charge and when some of the engines sulk over a silly issue, he sends them over to the shed to teach them a lesson. A simple story, but again, too wordy for us. Both these books were read for the first time today and I don't expect them to be asked again for some more time!  Finally, we picked up 'Roaring Rockets' again for a second time in this challenge - they don't have wheels, but they do go! Gravity boots, spacesuits, landers…. yea, that we dig! Haha!

We loved this link for a Karadi Tales sing-along on trains. Other books that we would like to read are, ‘Mrs Armitrage on Wheels’ by the quirky Quentin Blake and ‘Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel’ by Virginia Lee Burton. 

March 14, 2014 - Day 14 -  Reading Prompt – I am I

Bubble Ink picks –
Tall           - Jez Alborough
I like Me  - Karen Beaumont
Spoon       - Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Unboy Boy - Richa Jha

Initially, I thought I had no books for this theme, so I went about searching in my new books' corner and found 'Dumbo' by Disney. Our book was way too wordy, so I had to do a marathon reading and gave a short-cut version of it later to my little one. Also showed her a reading of the book on You Tube. It's a story of a baby elephant, Dumbo, whose unusually large ears make him the butt of rude jokes in an entire circus, much to his disappointment. Timothy Mouse, a friend indeed, helps him discover his real talent, which makes him unique, that is flying with the help of his enormous ears! Another new book we read was Mr Big, a giant of a man who no one loves because of the way he looks. He finally discovers a passion for music within himself and it is his immense talent that wins people over to adore him for what he is inside. The best book of the day and also that was totally in tune with the prompt was, 'The Mixed Up Chameleon' by Eric Carle. A very regular chameleon realises one day that he can not only change his colour, but also his shape and size as well. He picks up all the good parts of the various animals around and ends up being, well, something else, ('a little of this and a little of that')... only to realise and say to himself, ' I wish I could be myself.' A nice story that shows what makes each animal different and why it is important to be yourself. So there! Not bad, I'd say!

We are definitely buying ‘Unboy boy!’.

March 15, 2014 - Day 15 -  Reading Prompt – Lift the Flap, Pull the Tab, Play I Spy

Bubble Ink picks –
Good Egg                     - Barney Saltzberg
I feel Happy                  - Little Learners
Each Peach Pear Plum   - Janet and Allan Ahlberg

We don't have any lift the flap books either! Waaaaah! We did the next best, pop up books! We did 2 books, The Very Silly Shark' and 'The Very Clever Crocodile', both by Jack Tickle - the first being about ocean creatures n the second about swamp creatures.

I loved the video of the 'Good Egg' suggested today. Though I’m unsure if it would be a good buy for my 4 year old!

And that is how we reached our half mark!! :-) 15 glorious days of  reading and sharing books!

Happy Reading!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Day 6 to Day 10 - 30 books in 30 days Challenge


Continuing on the Bubble Ink reading challenge – here is what we read, shared, viewed and added to our library in the next 5 days.

March 6, 2014 - Day 6 -  Reading Prompt – Books - Love

The prompt was a tribute to ‘World Book Day’ celebrated in the UK and Ireland. We were to read books on books, or books on the love for reading.

Bubble Ink Picks –
Born To Read              - Judy Sierra
It's a Book                   - Lane Smith 
The Why-Why Girl       - Maheshweta Devi

We did not have any books on the love of reading, but to show our love and respect for the world of books - we decided to go all out. We read everything from mythology to fantasy, nature to science!  We started with the first story of our beautiful world - Adam and Eve (Baby's First Bible books) and followed up with our favourite mythological hero's birth story - Janmashtami (Tales from the Bhagawata Purana). Next was the wondrous story of 'The Nutcracker'. We then read a beautiful story by Deepa Balsavar, 'The Seed/ Beej' (Tulika) and followed up with 'Brilliant Boats' ( Tony Mitton and Ant Parker).

We later purchased ‘Born to Read’, the first book suggested for the prompt. This is a gem! A must have. I will surely follow up with a detailed write-up on this book soon. If we are on the topic of the love of reading, I have to share a very insightful and inspiring video about Luis Soriano, a teacher in Columbia. The link is pasted here - Biblioburro - The Donkey Library. Do watch! 

March 7, 2014 - Day 7 -  Reading Prompt – Barnyard

Bubble Ink Picks –
Big Red Barn                                  - Margaret Wise Brown
Click-Clack Moo Cows that type - Doreen Cronin
Rooster Raga                               - Natasha Sharma, Tulika Publishers

I was so dismayed! I didn’t have a barnyard book either!  Tried to be as close as possible to the prompt, so ended up reading 'The story of Black Beauty' by Anna Sewell and 'The rabbit who liked to crunch' (The Clever Factory). When I told my little one that we should think of some farm story to read, she immediately said - Jesus's birth! So we ended up reading the nativity story - 'Christmas Star'.

Our purchases from suggestions put up for this prompt were - ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ by Julia Donaldson and ‘The Three Little Pigs’ (Read it Yourself, Ladybird Books Ltd.). Rooster Raga was a suggestion for this prompt, but I came across this story reading of the book in Tamil on You Tube - Rooster Raaga - Read Aloud in Tamil. The English version was also good, but I played this one on loop! Its so nostalgic – reminded me of how my Paati, my Mama, my mom used to tell me stories in my childhood. It’s simply wonderful and I fell in instant love with it. I guess it grew on A as well and she would tell me, ‘Amma, let's listen to your favourite 'Ru Ru-vin Raagam’. Haha! 

March 8, 2014 - Day 8 -  Reading Prompt – Mommy and me!

This prompt was a tribute to International Women’s Day.

Bubble Ink Picks –
Monkey Puzzle                             - Julia Donaldson
Are you my Mother?                     - P.D.Eastman
Whose lovely child can you be?    - Shobha Viswanath

Aha! Oho! I felt so empowered! This was because the previous day I had picked up some 20 odd books in a super sale and now, I actually had books that would have fulfilled all the prompts till date! Haha! Anyway, the first book we read was 'Monkey Puzzle'. Julia again at her best! Lovely story and the butterfly's logic is shown so beautifully! The second book we read was 'Snow Bears' by Martin Waddell. Super cute book about 3 baby bears who get covered in snow and try to trick their mommy into believing that they are not her babies. Mommy plays along and after some time, she brings them home for some warmth. When the snow melts away revealing the baby bears, the babies tell their mommy 'We were playing tricks, it was us all the time, Mummy Bear!' Endearing!

Though we haven’t yet purchased any books from today’s suggestions, (we purchased more than the quota at the sale itself!) our shopping carts are full with prospective ones. We also loved the story, ‘Are you my mother?’ from the suggested list and A loved the video on You Tube as well. Check this -Are you my mother?

March 9, 2014 - Day 9 -  Reading Prompt – Daddy dearest!

After mommy love, daddies should not lag behind, should they? So that’s how we got our next reading prompt. And yes, the dearest daddies did the reading today!

Bubble Ink Picks –
Papa , Please get the moon for me - Eric Carle
Daddy Hugs                                - Karen Katz 
The Myna from Peacock garden - Naiyer Masud, Katha Books

We read 'Stick Man' by Julia Donaldson. A Christmas Eve story where a daddy twig goes floating away far from his home making his wife n kids sad on the night before Christmas. A little help from Santa Claus gets him back home happily in time for Christmas with his family. Very imaginative idea of personifying a mere stick!  We then read the story of Krishna's birth for the second time this week, about how divine miracles help a father overcome hurdles that lay in the path of protecting his precious son! We also read ‘Tent Pegs’ from the book, 'Stories for 5 year olds’ from Igloo Books. A leopard dad help his little cubs put up a camping tent in the garden for an adventurous night. Some monsters, some noise, chilly winds and hunger pangs all come together to give a true adventure experience to the cubs  as they sleepily go down late in the night listening to daddy’s stories by torchlight. 

Again, no books purchased from the suggestions given on this day, though we intend to buy ‘Papa, please get the moon for me’. The hosts suggested a Julia Donaldson book after seeing the popularity of her books with the children. The book was ‘Cave Baby’ and yes, we purchased that! Yet, to read it, though. Julia's books are a hit at our place as well, with 'The Gruffalo' ruling the roost. 

March 10, 2014 - Day 10 -  Reading Prompt – Toy Story

With the challenge involving reading to kids, it is but logical and obvious that we have a prompt on this!

Bubble Ink Picks –
Knuffle Bunny                                    - Mo Willems – The entire series
Elmer and the lost teddy                     - David McKee
The Toy Horse                                  - Deepa Agarwal

Hey! Lotsa books today! A’s picks for today's prompt were 2 books from the Pepper series - 'Pepper is jealous' and 'Pepper wants too many toys'. Both books teach you that there is greater joy in sharing toys with your friends rather than coveting. Another book that we read today is 'I want that' which is about Jack, who wants every toy that he sees and one fine day turns into an 'I want that' monster. Though it was exciting to have all that he wanted after going on a rampage, Jack gets terribly lonely. He realises that saying 'please' to ask for something works better than being greedy! And the last book we read was the classic, 'The Nutcracker' - a Christmas story where a little girl, Clara, is gifted a nutcracker toy and how the toy comes to life as the Nutcracker Prince and takes Clara on a magical journey just before Christmas Day dawns! We read this book for the second time in this challenge.

We want to read the Knuffle Bunny series – couldn’t find any in the public library nor could I find them online. I guess we'll have to wait till it becomes easily available. 

And that was the end of Day 10. Thoroughly enjoyable experience, and now with A also realising that we are reading as per topics given by the ‘Internet’, the excitement has doubled on home turf!

Happy reading!!

Day 1 to Day 5 - 30 books in 30 days Challenge


I wish to begin our activities on the blog with not a book review, but with our experiences at an online book challenge that we participated in. The month of March 2014 saw mommy and baby being an active part of the ’30 books in 30 days Challenge’ hosted by Bubble Ink, a blog created to share book reviews and spread the sheer joy of reading to your child, even introduce it to many, in the process. The basic purpose of the challenge was to help introduce the habit of reading everyday to your child, taking inspiration from this post here, backed by their love for children’s books. The hosts would introduce a reading prompt for each day and some delightful picks of their own to help understand and adopt the prompt, though they would always reassure the participants that reading any other book was fine, as long as we were reading everyday.

We were already chronic book-readers. So with that, we were off to a comfortable start. It was the idea of the daily prompt that excited me a lot. It was an avenue to learn about new books, authors, ideas and genres. And so it was. Other than the suggestions put up by the hosts, the participants also wrote about their picks and that opened up another goldmine of books! There were privileged participants - authors, story-tellers, bloggers and avid, frenzied mommies who loved picture books! And as at today, Day 23 of the challenge, it has been a most wonderful journey! We are richer by some brilliant books already purchased and still have almost 50+ books in shopping carts across Amazon and Ebay and Flipkart!

Here, I present a short summary of the daily prompts, our reading experience and the books that were read and discussed. I have tried to copy quotes, mine as well as those of others, from the challenge as much as possible.

March 1, 2014 - Day 1 -  Reading Prompt - Hugs and Kisses

Bubble Ink Picks - 
Huggy Kissy            - Leslie Patricelli
Counting Kisses      - Karen Katz
Love and Kisses      - Sarah Wilson

The first day was a bummer! We did not have any books relating to the prompt! So we read out of the theme and our reads were - The Gingerbread Man, the original author of which is unknown -an all-time favourite at home. The second book we read was 'The Wizard of Oz' by Frank Baum. This is not a personal favourite, but my 4 year old is fascinated! 

We later ended up buying a book shared by another participant, ‘Where do kisses come from?’ It’s a book that beautifully depicts the many reasons the kiss is given - 'I missed you kisses', 'thank-you kisses', 'feel-better kisses' and 'kisses just because…'  The end line is especially endearing which goes like this -  'No matter what kind of kiss it is, ALL kisses come from love.’

March 2, 2014 - Day 2 -  Reading Prompt – Dr. Seuss
Bubble Ink Picks –
Cat in the Hat
Ten apples up on top!

The prompt was a tribute to the author’s birth anniversary, which is also celebrated across America as National ‘Read Across America’ Day.

Again, we had no books from the Dr Seuss collection in our library. We read 'Roaring Rockets' by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker. It's a crisp read about rockets and what they do, with fantastic crayons' style illustrations and writing. We also read 'Mala's Silver Anklets' by Annie Besant (Tulika books, a refreshing welcome entry to children's literature in India). It's a delightful book about a little girl playing pranks on everyone till her mom decides to put anklets on her little feet to forewarn her victims.

I must admit, I have been biased in my perception of Dr Seuss till this prompt came up. That is, till I actually ever picked up a book of his’ and read it. Today, we own a 20-book collection, thanks to this challenge! And my daughter loves him – his wild lines ( Zizzer, Zazzer Zuzz, fiffer-feffer-feff ) keeps her in splits and I am dazzled by the sheer exuberance of his literature. A serious check to myself at the end of this exercise was – don’t saddle your personal biases when choosing books for your little one! Give her the book and let her decide!

A book shared on this day that we ended up buying was ‘Don’t be so nosy, Posy!’ by Nicola Grant. This is a story of a piglet who is very nosy and how she saves the day!

March 3, 2014 - Day 3 -  Reading Prompt – Jungle / Zoo
Bubble Ink Picks –
The Gruffalo                                            - Julia Donaldson
Hide and Seek                                          - Jez Alborough
Endangered Animals of India                   - Praba Ram and Meera Sriram

We struck gold this time! Yay!

What better book for this theme than 'The Gruffalo' and 'The Gruffalo's Child' (Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler) ... an absolute favourite at our place between Appa, Amma and baby! In fact, the reading part is mostly done by my little one, what with both stories being literally imprinted on her little mind!  We also read ' We're Going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. These stories are also special to us because we have also seen the theatre plays - our first experience at live plays!

Our purchase from this day’s recommendation by participants was Eric Carle's 'Slowly, slowly, slowly said the sloth’. We also learnt about a new genre of books called ‘porquoi stories’ ( fictional narratives that explain why something is the way it is ) and we ended up buying ‘ How the elephant got its trunk?’ by Tinga Tinga Tales.

March 4, 2014 - Day 4 -  Reading Prompt – 1, 2, 3 / Numbers
Bubble Ink Picks –
Ten Black Dots                        - Donald Crews
Ten in the Bed                         - Penny Dale
9 to 1 - Thumb Print book       - Nivedita Subramaniam Tulika Publishers

Let’s see what we could find in our library!  We read another favourite today - 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle. Then we read 'Dosa' by Sandhya Rao - its a bi-lingual (Tamil and English), an amusing tale of disappearing number of dosas dished out by Amma for Bapa! We completed our reading for the day with a book, 'Space' that we picked up from the Science museum. It is like an introduction about space to kids and I basically connected the number of planets to our theme for today! My kiddo was quite sad to know scientists do not think of Pluto as a planet anymore! Ha!

Our purchases from this day’s recommendation was 'Dad! I can't sleep' by Michael Foreman. A tale about a little panda who ends up counting all possible animals and numbers at bedtime because he cannot got to sleep. It goes on to have a comical end with all animals ending up on bed with him, still wide awake! We also bought ‘Ten in the Bed’ by Penny Dale as suggested in the prompt and Over in the meadow by "Olive. A. Wadsworth – This is a classic song about a meadow which filled with loving animal families. One can find and count not only the animal babies, but background details that also correspond to the numbers in the classic song. A you tube link to an awesome sing-along of this book that you can listen to is pasted here – Over in the Meadow - Sing Along

March 5, 2014 - Day 5 -  Reading Prompt – Wordless Wednesday
Bubble Ink Picks –
HUG                                        - Jez Alborough
Good night, Gorilla                  - Peggy Rathman
Round and Round Books          - Deepa Balsavar, Tulika Publishers

Now this one totally blew us away! We never knew about wordless books! Ohh, thank providence for the joy of sharing ideas! Basically wordless books are, as the name suggests, picture books without any words. 100% visually effective, they invite the little readers to run wild with their imagination and conjure up their own ideas of the story in front of them! Though we did not have any books at that time, we did buy Flotsam by David Wiesner ( I have become a big fan of this multiple award winning author – many of his books lie in my shopping lists, to be bought gradually, but surely). It’s an awesome book, a must have for any library!

What we ultimately did was this – I picked up a Jataka Tale story from an Amar Chitra Katha publication as my 4 year old is only now attempting to read. The story was called 'True Friendship' and I asked A to try if she could make out the story through pictures. It took a while for us to make the journey till the last page, but it was hilarious! I later read the story to her and it was her turn to laugh! The good part was she got the moral right at the end. That we should be the good kind of friends!

Another purchase that we bought from the books discussed was, ‘That's not a good idea’ by Mo Willams, though the book isn’t delivered yet.

So that chronicled the first 5 days of the challenge. The challenge started off as interesting and a real eye-opener. Though we have been reading every day since a long time now, we had no books in our library on 3 of the 5 topics covered till now – one of them, unheard of! Now that’s some learning! And turned out, there will be a lot more to learn in the days to come!

Happy reading!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Why this blog?

 “If you love books enough, books will love you back.” 
― Jo Walton, Among Others

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” 
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.
― Henry Ward Beecher

Well, I guess you got it. I love books. I’ve always loved books. Though I have to admit, I haven’t really read all my life the way I would have wanted to, primarily because of 2 reasons – first, I was born in an average middle-class family in India where buying story books for pleasure was an absolute extravagance, and second, where were there so many options as the privileged lot of today has? So I grew up with the only literature known at that time – Indian mythology (I can never thank Amar Chitra Katha enough for my undying love for Indian mythology, and the lovely family friends who used to lend me the books to read) and Panchatantra tales. My father encouraged reading a lot – from classic English Literature (Shakespeare to Arthur Conan Doyle to Thomas Hardy to Somerset Maugham) to the boring ‘The Times of India’. To my dad, who could manage to read books from a library only when he started working, anything other than pure British classic fare was trash! Ohh! How the eloquent descriptions would kill me then! I would be constantly reminded to use the dictionary if I got stuck – vocabulary building was something I had to do on my own! But today, I thank him for planting the seed of reading in me. Over a period of time, I started reading voraciously. 

There is pure pleasure in immersing yourself in a book. The cover, the title, the style of writing… There is something in every book dear to you that will be eternally etched in your mind. Some lines that can never ever fail to enchant me and other book lovers, I’m sure, are -

Charming opening lines – 
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” 
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

"To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman."
 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes : A Scandal in Bohemia

Lines that capture the essence of the book and give meaning to it -
“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” 
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - What would you tell him?"

I…don't know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?"

To shrug.” 
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

 “You’re just a young kid. What are you doin’ here? What are ya doin’ here, for Christ’s sake? What’s funny about that? Jesus, I mean, you guys do nothin’ but complain about how you can’t stand it in this place here and then you haven’t got the guts just to walk out!” 
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

“For you, a thousand times over” 
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Eternal, lasting closing lines –
"After all, tomorrow is another day." 
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
George Orwell, Animal Farm

Today, my favourite kind of books are those written by Indian authors! Yay! There is a lot of good literature being written in India and I always keep my eyes open for a good book - and I’m not disappointed at all! Though our tastes are completely diverse, my husband also nurtures a great love for books and rues every day the lack of time to get back to active reading.  Which, err, quite makes me realise that in spite of writing with such zeal and nostalgia, I must confess, I’m digressing! 

The purpose of this blog is our 4 year old daughter, really.  She is the nucleus of our life and is increasingly becoming the reason for everything I do, quite sometimes without me really wanting to! I think I would be quite distressed if she had not taken after us with the reading habit. But I guess, some things in life fall in place, (knock on wood, you!) :-) Through her I have discovered another joy – picture books!! Ohh how we absolutely love them! Like someone said, ‘A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.’ It’s true, it’s so true!! The colours, the illustrations, the vibrancy, the words, the rhymes, the happy feel – I feel most alive when I sit with my girl and a book to read out to her. There are times when I actually end up flipping the pages and reading them myself while my girl gets all cross for having ignored her! 

We shifted to the UK almost a year back and I discovered the amazing public library system. It is so wonderful! A whole library full of the best books for all, so easily accessible. But what got my heart singing with joy was the children’s section. Our world has widened in the past year and so has our library! I have been reading to my little one (who I will call A on this blog) ever since she was a year old. Though being in my new world now, I rue about why did I not start sooner. 

A’s favourite pastime, her favourite game, her idea of a reward, her 2-minute break – is reading a book. At any given point of time, we read at least 4-5 books every day. If I am busy, she would pore over a pile of books that she would collect from the book shelves, looking at pictures. Sometimes she will pretend to read out from a book that we have already read, to all her soft toys. The children are introduced to a lot of books at school here. So at times, when I try to surprise her with a new book, I would be quite peeved when she would say ‘I’ve read this in school!’. The worst punishment for her is not a timeout or no TV, it is ‘no reading at bedtime!’. She would repeatedly tell my husband and I, ‘I love my toys and my soft friends, but I love my books like nothing else!’ She is like a little caterpillar who has come out of its egg and has a voracious appetite for books – and will now make the journey of transformation into a beautiful butterfly that will make the world a more beautiful place (obviously inspired by ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle – among A’s favourite books). Pardon the use of the pompous simile – I couldn’t help myself!! :-D

This blog is for me to record our lively and happy journey which we hope will go on forever. I don’t want to call them reviews, but I will share here our experience and takeaways from books that we read. Someday, when she is all grown up and a fine young lady making her mark in the world, I would love for her to read these pages and experience all over once again, the infectious enthusiasm that she shows today as we read together. 

I want to close this post with the most fantastic quotes ever that a writer, especially of books for children, could have penned, in my limited knowledge as on date – Dr. Seuss! His books and style of writing have to be experienced to be understood. Almost all his books amazingly reach across to you, urging you to assert your individuality, which is among the best lessons that you can impart to your little one.  I personally am a recent entrant into his fan club and so is my daughter who loves his zany, crazy lines!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” 
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” 
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the thinks you can think!

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” 
― Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

And to begin our journey, a line that is more of a disclaimer :-)

“So many books, so little time.” 
― Frank Zappa