Tag Archives: bloomsbury

The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood and David Tazzyman

The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood Title: The Truth According to Arthur
Author: Tim Hopgood
Illustrator: David Tazzyman
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1408864999
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books
Pages: 32
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Picture books are adorable. Well most of them are. Right from Dr. Seuss to Oliver Jeffers, in my opinion, they would do more good for adults than children. We can all learn a lesson or two from picture books – how to be calm, grounded, more patient and also live the moment as it comes our way. They also teach us a lot about basic life lessons and how we can live – one day at a time.

One such picture book I read was “The Truth According to Arthur” by Tim Hopgood and illustrated by David Tazzyman. The book is about Arthur, fibbing and telling the truth about ramming his brother’s bicycle to his mom’s car and the dent it caused. Truth is a grey, oblong being in the background, waiting to see what Arthur will say or do now.

The book is simple, funny and Arthur’s various versions of the truth will have you in splits. I absolutely enjoyed this book. Picture books do that to me. They bring out the child once a while and that is a good thing. The illustrations by David Tazzyman are adorable and simple. I think it is the simplicity that makes you want to ponder and look at the illustrations again and again. They make you see things differently – a child’s view after all is not easy to adopt. We forget that we need more books such as these to balance our lives and make it better.

The Inflatable Woman by Rachael Ball

The Inflatable Woman by Rachael Ball Title: The Inflatable Woman
Author: Rachael Ball
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408858073
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 544
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Hands down “The Inflatable Woman” is one of the best graphic novels I have read this year and it is not too early to say that given that more than eleven months are still to go. But this one by Rachael Ball stirs the heart and also makes you smile at the end of it.
Iris is a zookeeper waiting for love to hit her and charm the life out of her. She is at the same time chatting with a lighthouse keeper online who goes by the name, sailor_buoy_39 and she is balletgirl_42 though she doesn’t know anything about ballet.

And overnight, just like that, she comes to know that she has got breast cancer and there is nothing she can do about it but visit doctors, meet nurses, get to know other patients and still finds no respite. She is thrown into this world that she knows nothing about and is expected to face it with the support of her Grandmother, her friend Maud and a bunch of singing penguins.

What I loved about this graphic novel was the way in which the art is done. It is all black and white with Iris’s thoughts all over the place and then you have splashes of colour all over, just like life, isn’t it? I absolutely loved Iris’s determination when it came down to tough situations or her fears as well – when she thinks she can no longer handle anyone or anything.

Ball’s writing and illustrations are vivid, clear and also quite surreal given the context of the plot. “The Inflatable Woman” to me was a one-of-a-kind graphic novel. I enjoyed it immensely and could not get enough of it at all.

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The Inflatable Woman (English)


The Inflatable Woman

She Will Build Him A City by Raj Kamal Jha

She Will Build Him A City by Raj Kamal Jha Title: She Will Build Him A City
Author: Raj Kamal Jha
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9789384052423
Genre: :Literary Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I was young. I was struggling with my sexuality. I did not know what to do with my life. I had no one to turn to but books and that’s exactly what I did. That gave me the much needed solace, the balm to my pains. And that is the time I read Raj Kamal Jha’s “The Blue Bedspread” that made a big difference to my existence. I think that some books do that to you. They change your world and you are forever indebted to them. The book was not a bright book. It was not a happy book either. It was raw and real and that helped me, like no other book at that time.

And he is back again with his new book (though there have been two more since The Blue Bedspread), “She Will Build Him A City” which has all the hallmark elements of his writing style – pathos, irony and depiction of the “real” India.

It is a story, running on three tracks and how they merge and blend beautifully into one large landscape of a tale. In Delhi, a mother spins a tale for her daughter, now grown-up. She wants to make her daughter whole again, who is broken and she doesn’t know how to do that.

In another part of the city, a new-born is left outside an orphanage and his story begins from there. On the third side, a man is out on a mission to kill and dreams of murder.

These are the three threads that merge exquisitely in this book. The writing will take your breath away and want you begging for more. I think what Jha does so wonderfully is make things as real as they are. There are no frills and at the same time you know that there is redemption for these characters – these creatures of circumstance. Every scene is an imagery that is conjured by the mind and to me that is great writing. Anything which can make me imagine or think of the characters’ lives and what they might be doing as of now.

“She Will Build Him a City” does not move at a fast pace. The book is not supposed to. It takes its time and as a reader, it makes you patient as well. This book will make you see India in a different light. It will also make you see love and all its forms differently.

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She Will Build Him a City

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Chris Riddell
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408859643
Genre: Graphic Story
Pages: 72
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Another Neil Gaiman that I read this month and loved it as much as “Hansel and Gretel”. This one is called “The Sleeper and the Spindle”, takes on Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. This one I found better than “Hansel and Gretel”, maybe because I have loved these two fairy tales most as a child. “The Sleeper and the Spindle” is again fascinating because of the illustrations by Riddell and the tales weaved by Gaiman.

“The Sleeper and the Spindle” is a fun read. It is not a light reader but neither is it as dark as “Hansel and Gretel”. The stories are just the same with some twist here and there, but what really will make you want more as a reader are the illustrations of Chris Riddell. They are stupendous and beautifully drawn.

Neil Gaiman’s storytelling is inventive. The stories merge together and as a reader you are just fascinated by the writing style and narrative. This one is also creepy but not so much. There are a couple of minor changes but that is passable in the name of creativity. It is a dark and innovative spin that you must read and reread for the illustrations. A short read for a lazy Sunday.

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Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman Title: Hansel and Gretel
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Lorenzo Mattotti
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408861981
Genre: Graphic Story
Pages: 56
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

We have all read and loved “Hansel and Gretel” when we were growing up. Everything about fairy tales was fascinating and intriguing. Nothing could take away the beauty of a good fairy tale, so much so that its macabre underlined meaning was lost on us. Neil Gaiman’s “Hansel and Gretel” does not drift away from the real story at all. It stays true to it and yet there is something about this version that both your dreams and nightmares will be made of.

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman - Image 1

“Hansel and Gretel” tells the tale of a brother and sister and yet there are so many layers to it – of poverty, the parents’ role in sending the children away, the witch but obviously and the children with their intelligence and wit. What makes this edition so unique of course are the wonderful illustrations of Lorenzo Mattotti. They are dark, brooding, and melancholic to the core. They are of course wonderfully done. And while others might say that it is too dark, it is really not that dark.

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman - Image 2

The book delivers creepy fantastically. The images are in black and white, so that is another twist to it. “Hansel and Gretel” is a delight to read, even if it is just fifty-six pages long. There is something redeeming and at the same time something so unforgiving about this tale, that it will make you think over and over again. We have all heard it in our childhood, but I feel that for most stories, different versions are always welcome. They somehow change your perception as well, over time and years to come.

Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman - Image 3

“Hansel and Gretel” is a work that is beautifully reproduced by Gaiman and Mattotti and a definite read for both children and adults. Also, please ensure that the children have read the earlier Grimm’s tale as well, more so for literature’s sake.

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Love in Small Letters by Francesc Miralles

Love in Small Letters by Francesc Miralles Title: Love in Small Letters
Author: Francesc Miralles
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781846883354
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 281
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

“Love in Small Letters” by Francesc Miralles was the second translated book I read this year and it came to me just by sheer chance, as most of the incidents take place – by chance. This book will make you believe in love and everyday magic. It will make you a hopeful person if you are not and a more hopeful person if you are. The book spoke to me like all the other books I have loved immensely. I picked it up because it had been lying around for a week and I really wanted to read it, so there you have it: A book that made me smile, think and also cry at the end.

“Love in Small Letters” is about an ordinary man, named Samuel. It is about a New Year’s Day and how it changes everything for Samuel and the life that he has known is about to go elsewhere, in another direction – in a more serendipitous direction. It all begins with a cat that came unannounced on his doorstep and he fed it some milk; a neighbour who he has never met makes an appearance and he starts caring about him, another stranger at a bar with a manuscript under his arm at all times and how he gets to know and help him, and a girl he loved when he was a child and when he sees her unexpectedly at a traffic signal.

All of the action takes place in a span of week. Everything is surreal and sometimes it is good for us to know as humans to let it leave it to faith or a higher power. More than anything else, the story is set in Barcelona, which gives it its own charm.

Miralles’s writing is simple and profound. It does not get preachy at any point. He makes it too easy and so emotional at the same time, without it being too sentimental and boring. The translation by Julie Wark is as simple and enriching. The essence of the book is in its title which comes from this passage in the book, and happens to be my favourite:

“Love in small letters?”

“It’s when some small act of kindness sets off a chain of events that comes around again in the form of multiplied love. Then, even if you want to return to where you started, it’s too late, because this love in small letters has wiped away all traces of the path back to where you were before.”

This is the essence of this wondrous book. Maybe no one has heard of it. Maybe very few people will. But all I can say is that you have to read this book to feel good about the world and life, about love and friendship, about chances in life and sometimes things we do because they must be done. “Love in Small Letters” is a book that will make you sing. It is a book that will make you believe in the moon, the stars and everything beyond our imagination. It is also a book that will make you see things and people, differently. Read it.

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Congratulations, by the Way by George Saunders

Congratulations by the Way Title: Congratulations, By the Way
Author: George Saunders
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1408859346
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 64
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

It is a small book. It is something that you will perhaps read in half an hour. It is the kind of book though that will remain in your subconscious forever. It is an essay. It is a Commencement speech given by George Saunders at Syracuse University in May 2013. The speech is about kindness, about what it means to be kind and perhaps the only regrets he has ever had have been those when he was not kind to people.

“Congratulations, By the Way” is a book which will make you reflect and wonder about life and its worth. The book does not proclaim to teach you anything and maybe if you want to, you will probably not learn anything from it either. But I also think that kindness is something which is inherent, and yet most of us fail miserably, at being kind.

The book is simply written and is just about being kind to one another and if possible, also to oneself. We also tend to forget sometimes how important it is to be kind to oneself. I will most certainly reread this book and also will recommend it to people – so that we never forget to be kind.

Here is the video of the speech: