Tag Archives: children’s fiction

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

circus-mirandus-by-cassie-beasley Title: Circus Mirandus
Author: Cassie Beasley
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-1910002575
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 306
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

The book “Circus Mirandus” has a very interesting premise. A boy who is all of ten or eleven I think – Micah Tuttle. He lives with his grandfather Ephraim. He has spent all his life till now – ten years that is, hearing tales of a magical circus. Grandpa Ephraim is now very ill. What he does is, he tells Micah that all tales about Circus Mirandus were actually true and the circus does exist. He also lets Micah know that the Light bender or the Man who bends light gave him a wish which he wishes to use now. Micah has a purpose and plans to make things happen one way or the other.

Thus begins the tale of Micah and his friend Jenny Mendoza and how they battle to get Micah’s grandfather his wish come true. At the same time there is Micah’s great Aunt Gertrudis who thinks magic is all bollocks and nothing good ever came out of it. She is one character you will not like very much. I know I didn’t.

Over all, the premise is a good one that makes you turn the pages. At some points you think the book is long and could have been cut short but maybe it is worth it as the story progresses. I am almost sold on reading only children’s fiction because it is at least feel good and doesn’t get me all wondering about the big issues of life and living. The parts of the circus are interestingly written, so much so that you just imagine you’re there or want to be there.

“Circus Mirandus” is one of those heartwarming books that make you want to believe in magic and everything nice. The book is simply magical and the illustrations are stunning. Please read this book to believe in things that you did as a child.

The Robber Hotzenplotz by Otfried Preussler

The Robber Hotzenplotz by Otfried Preussler Title: The Robber Hotzenplotz
Author: Otfried Preussler
Translated by: Anthea Bell from German
Publisher: NYRB Children’s Collection
ISBN: 978-1590179611
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 128
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

I steer clear from most children’s fiction. I don’t know why but that has always been the case – more or less. There are some books though that catches my fancy and I happened to literally bump into “The Robber Hotzenplotz” by Otfried Preussler online and couldn’t resist getting my own copy (on request from publisher) and I was more than pleasantly surprised by the book.

The story is simply told. The plot is of two boys – around eight or nine year olds – who are best friends – Kasperl and Seppel and of the robber Hotzenplotz who works very hard to hide in the woods and wait for his next victim. His next victim happens to be Kasperl’s grandmother, who he attacks and steals her coffee mill. The boys then head out to rescue the mill from Hotzenplotz and find themselves in the midst of one adventure after another.

Preussler’s writing is funny – in the sense not only for children but also for adults. The translation by Anthea Bell is simple and works with every single turn of the page. The illustrations are magnificent and won’t let go of you that easily. I loved the simple and yet so human like illustrations.

To me the book was a breeze of a read and will be the same for you. I was just wondering also of the numerous tales that we do not pay attention to, either because we aren’t familiar with them or because our culture doesn’t expose us to them. NYRB Children’s Classics plans to change that I hope with the publication of such classics that more children will read from different countries and know more. I know, I for one will lap them all.

“The Robber Hotzenplotz” is a funny read for both children and adults and I highly recommend this one.

Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris and Andre François

Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris Title: Little Boy Brown
Author: Isobel Harris
Illustrator: Andre François
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 48
Source: Personal
Rating: 4/5

I read Little Boy Brown. I finally picked it up and read it. It is a children’s book and yet says so much about the way we live our lives or that is what I took away from it. The book is actually about stepping out a lot more and seeing the world and living instead of being cooped at home. That is exactly what “Little Boy Brown” does one day and has the time of his life. He is all but four and a half years old.

Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris - Image 1

The book is about childhood and its memories and what will stay and what will be forgotten. It is about Little Boy Brown who is lonely; whose parents have no time for him, and they live in a Manhattan hotel where everything is connected to subways and tunnels and elevators and they hardly get out as they are used to this life. Only the boy can go out and he loves it. So one fine day he steps out with Hilda – the family’s maid and sees her world, which changes the way he looks at things and people.

Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris - Image 2

I absolutely loved this charming picture book which has so much in it for both, children and adults. There is so much empathy, sensitivity and a look at how different people lead their lives differently. It is about a city that is so fast-paced that it forgets people who lead quiet lives and there is so much to learn from those lives as well. The illustrations by Andre Francois are charming and all done in white and brown which make the book unique and quaint.

“Little Boy Brown” is a book to be read by everyone just to know that life is also about slowing down and smelling the roses once in a while.

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Journey by Aaron Becker

Journey by Aaron Becker Title: Journey
Author: Aaron Becker
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0763660536
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Books
Pages: 40
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Journey - Image 4

A picture says a thousand words and this proverb couldn’t be truer for “Journey” by Aaron Becker. “Journey” is an experience which you will not forget that easily or that soon. It is almost like a dedication to all picture books, according to me. It is creative. It is fantastical. It is also quite interesting with images appearing out of nowhere in the second and third reading of the book, which you thought were never there. I guess that is also one of the things that picture books to do you. They make you see clearly and just for that you should read more of them.

Journey - Image 1

“Journey” is all about a girl. A girl, who is bored, more bored and bored than ever. Her parents do not seem to have time for her. She decides to go on and find worlds which are just an arm’s length away. She draws a door and that is the beginning of the journey for her. The hidden door is the key to everything and from thereon she discovers worlds silently – because that’s what this is – a wordless picture book. She meets people. She sees new things. Her fantasy has just come alive and she is no longer bored, more bored and bored than ever. She comes across a hot-air balloon, a weird bird, a relentless villain and someone else who will be willing to share an adventure with her, which is the plot of the second book in the series called “Quest”.

Journey - Image 2

If I am not mistaken this is the first part of a trilogy and I am now even more excited to read the second and third parts. The illustrations are magnificent and truly belong to another realm. Mr. Becker is not afraid of coming up with the unbelievable and indulging himself a little bit more. It is a great reader for young readers who have not started reading yet but they can for sure imagine. I love books such as these that allow everyone to imagine and live a little more.

Journey - Image 3

The book is stunning. It is packed with so many details that you will be gob smacked by the end of it. There are new worlds and newer ones to come in the other two. Becker does not hesitate and for a debut “Journey” is quite remarkable. It is a book that you should not even think twice before buying. A real treasure of a picture book.

You can know more about Aaron Becker by going to his site here: http://www.storybreathing.com/

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Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond Title: Mouse Bird Snake Wolf
Author: David Almond
Illustrated by: Dave McKean
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0763659127
Genre: Children”s Fiction
Pages: 74
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

There are times you read a book and cannot stop but think about what the author tried to communicate and how. “Mouse Bird Snake Wolf” by David Almond is all about creation and what happens when the Gods get lazy and do not wish to create anymore. Sounds fun, isn’t it? When humans are left to create? But what if children start doing that? Then what are the consequences? These are the questions raised quite well by Almond, through a wonderful story and even more arresting illustrations by Dave McKean.

You will be able to read the book in one whole gulp. There is no other way to read this book. Harry, Sue and Ben find their world empty. Of course they would! The Gods did not finish creating it. They did create a lot and then went about their business of merriment. And then the kids wanted to fill the empty spaces so they create something with twigs, grass and earth, and things begin to go out of control.

David Almond and Dave McKean are a killer team with this book. The illustrations are menacing and also wondrous when it comes to the Gods and their lives up above. This book is for both, children and adults according to me. It is about a world gone wrong and then made right. It is about what happens when control is taken over and how things change. A read for some introspection, for some fun and also just because you have to read a David Almond book.

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Mouse Bird Snake Wolf

Meeting Cezanne by Michael Morpurgo

Meeting Cezanne by Michael Morpurgo Title: Meeting Cezanne
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: Francois Place
Publisher: Walker Books, Penguin UK
ISBN: 9781406351132
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 64
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I had heard a lot about Michael Morpurgo and his books before I started reading “Meeting Cezanne”. I now know why both kids and adults love him and his works the way they do. There is something about the way he unfolds a story. It transcends age. Both adults and children can read his works and feel that gooey, buttery feeling and be happy, even if it means that happiness is temporary. A reread will transport you back to the feeling nonetheless. If that is what one Morpurgo book could do to me, then I am definitely reading all that he has to offer.

“Meeting Cezanne” is for young readers. The setting is 1960s. It is about a ten-year-old boy Yannick, who has to stay with this aunt, uncle and cousin in the South of France, as his mother needs recovering from a treatment. Provence is the place to be, or so the paintings of his mother’s beloved Cezanne say. It is paradise on earth and all of it. Yannick is hesitant to stay with his Aunt Mathilde and yet in the process, he waits tables at his aunt and uncle’s restaurant, he befriends his cousin and makes an amazing discovery about an artist who regularly visits the restaurant. The discovery is made when he accidentally destroys a precious drawing.

This is the plot of the book. Now to the way the writer and the artist have presented it to the reader. The writing is very simple (but of course, since it is written for children). The illustrations by Francois Place are just perfect and one just wants to constantly gaze at them, way after the book is done with. You will most certainly finish reading the book in less than an hour or so. I think the beauty of this book is that its appeal is so vast and also the fact that anything told so simply has no choice but to be beautiful. “Meeting Cezanne” is a perfect monsoon read for children and adults alike.

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Book Review: Mr. Bliss by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: Mr. Bliss
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
ISBN: 978-0-00-743619-4
Genre: Children, Fantasy
Pages: 83
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

J.R.R. Tolkien could have written a twenty-page story and we will still love that, no matter what. He could have scribbled anything after LOTR and we would have lapped it up, against our better sensibilities. Because, but after all, he is J.R.R. Tolkien.

While we have all read and loved LOTR, do try reading his eighty-three page story, “Mr. Bliss”. It is simply written and beautifully illustrated by the man himself. It is a very simple story of a man named Mr. Bliss and his unseemingly weird adventures as he heads out one fine sunny morning to buy a car. He is the owner of an exotic pet named Girabbit (of course the combination of a Rabbit and a Giraffe which is quite funny when seen illustrated) and is well-known for his collection of tall hats. He lives in a house built specifically to accommodate his hats. The book is about his first drive to visit his friends, The Dorkinses and how disastrous it gets. How he meets three bears on the way, is car breaks down, and how he has to also give lifts to Mr. Day and Mrs. Knight. The ending is quite sweet and all Tolkien fans will for sure relish this book.

The book also includes the originally written story in Tolkien’s handwriting, which is a treat. The illustrations are also included – the ones he began with for the book. Mr. Bliss came about as a story that Tolkien told his kids and for the longest time wasn’t in print. I am only too happy that it is now and people can read this short and fantastical story.

What I loved about the book is its simplicity. It is one of the understated, subtle and sweet books which are a rarity in today’s time. I would highly recommend this one to most Tolkien fans and also the ones who haven’t heard of him before (which is rather rare). Mr. Bliss will charm and warm your heart. A must read for both kids and adults.

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