Hmmm so I am the Hungry Reader. The one who reads. The one who is constantly reading or wanting to read constantly. This blog is all about the books I have read, the ones that I am reading and gems that I plan to read in the future or whenever it arrives.
Title: Little Boy Brown
Author: Isobel Harris
Illustrator: Andre François
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Genre: Children’s Fiction
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.
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.
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.
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” 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”.
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.
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.
Title: Mouse Bird Snake Wolf
Author: David Almond
Illustrated by: Dave McKean
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Children”s Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
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.
Title: Meeting Cezanne
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: Francois Place
Publisher: Walker Books, Penguin UK
Genre: Children’s Fiction
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.
Title: Mr. Bliss
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Children, Fantasy
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.
Title: The Library
Author: Sarah Stewart
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
The Library by Sarah Stewart is a paean to readers everywhere in the world. It will be cherished by all readers and understood most by them. I picked it up on a whim; however, I am so glad I did. The Library is one of those books that you will finish in less than five minutes, and yet you will go back to it again and again.
The book tells the story of shy, bookish, Elizabeth Brown and her life-long affair with books, where nothing else or no one else is needed. She only buys books and reads and reads and reads some more. As time passes she accumulates so many books that she decides to turn her house to a public library, where people can read for free and the written word can be cherished.
I read The Library at such a time when the concept of libraries is dying. I don’t see one in my city or that many in my country for that matter and that is sad. The Library is a beautifully illustrated book as well and by none other than David Small, who is her partner and understands the essence of the story completely.
I have thought many times to open a library; however I cannot bear the thought of my books not being handled well by some readers. May be that perception will change someday. The Library touched by heart because of its simplicity and the fact that I could relate to it so well. All I can say is that The Library should be read by every book lover as it makes you see books for what they are – priceless.
Title: Indra Finds Happiness
Author: Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik
Series: Fun in Devlok
Genre: Mythology, Children’s Fiction
PP: 52 Pages
Source: Personal Copy
Price: Rs. 99
So I set out to read these fantastical mythological tales churned for children by Devdutt and let me tell you a secret: Though the back cover of the book mentions that the book is for ages 6+ I immensely enjoyed them. There are 3 titles in this series, “Indra Finds Happiness”, “Gauri and the Talking Cow” and “An Identity Card for Krishna”. I picked up all of them knowing I would not be disappointed and trust me I wasn’t.
What is “Indra finds Happiness” all about anyway?
Little Harsha is sad as his parents are fighting, his sister is not speaking with him as she is too busy on her cell phone, and he doesn’t get to eat ice-cream when he wants to. A cloud then takes him to the abode of Indra, and there he finds out that Indra – the god of gods is the unhappiest one around. Harsha on the course of his journey sees magnificent things – the six-tusked white elephant Airavata, the tree that fulfils every wish, the pot of never-ending gold and the potion that keeps Indra young and healthy and despite all this, he finds the god unhappy and miserable. He feels that all that he has achieved is under threat from everyone else.
Amidst all this, Indra decides to steal the sage Vasishta’s cow and gets caught in the act. It is the sage who teaches Indra how to be happy, however like they say, it is for the learner to decide whether or not he would like to apply what he has learnt and the question is: Does Indra realize and learn the lesson after all?
Now what I liked about the book: The story was told but of course quite simply as it is meant for children. It is the way it was told – the clarity of writing for children, with the precision and insight to be able to blend the traditional and mythological with the modern twist to the stories. I only wish the illustrations were done by Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik themselves, considering he is brilliant with stick illustrations.