A couple of years ago, it would have been difficult to find many Indian authors in a list of children’s reads. This summer, there are many: Giti Chandra with her debut novel, Anushka Ravishankar (often referred to as India’s Dr Seuss), Meenakshi Bharadwaj, Roopa Pai and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Science fiction fantasy, a retelling of the Panchatantra, wildlife, magic and supernatural thrillers are the genres of the season. Let your child follow Tony Mitton and Ant Parker on their forest romps, enjoy another adventure with a young samurai warrior and catch up with old favourite Wally.
No list is complete till the end of the season. Once into your holiday, there will be new titles worth a read, so we’ve listed some to look out for. Take your pick.
Tiny tots (4-7 years)
Fantastic Forest by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker (Macmillan), Rs 250
This is one of the books in the Amazing Animals series. Learn about animals on the go. Mitton and Parker tour the evergreen forests of America to show us creatures on the ground or in trees. Don’t miss the duo’s Amazing Machines series either.Panchatantra (bilingual, Tulika), Rs 500 (a pack of six books) or Rs 85 per book
Beautifully illustrated and retold, this series is a treasure. You can choose to buy the books in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada or Telugu—along with English, the common thread. The stories include The Musical Donkey, The Talkative Tortoise, Four Friends, The Rabbit in the Moon, The Snake and the Frogs, and The Lion and the Fox.
Usborne First Reading (Usborne),
Rs 95 each
Great stories, simple text and easy to hold. Usborne’s series of First and Young Reading are graded reading that cover folk tales from around the world, classics, adventure, tales of heroism, true stories and plays presented in an easy-to-read format.
Approaching 10(8-10 years)
Where’s Wally Now? by Martin Handford (Walker), Rs 299
There is a mission—find Wally and his friends. Hours of fun guaranteed as you search through the beautiful mosaic of ancient history. Ten double-spread picture stories set in various times try to confuse you as you comb through the puzzle. By the time you finish, you will become a fan of Wally’s. There are seven books in the series.
I am Aan by Meenakshi Bharadwaj, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Katha), Rs 80
This is the story of baby elephant Aan, as he grows up to realize how tough adulthood is. Dotted with facts about elephants, this is a journey of self-discovery as playfulness yields to facing the world on his own.
501 TV-Free Activities for Kids (Hinkler), Rs 399
Not possible? It is, says this book, possible to keep away from television and have a lot of fun. Packed with activities, this book is a treasure in itself. It doesn’t need the TV vs no-TV debate to become a constant companion.
Tween tastes (11-12 years)
At Least a Fish by Anushka Ravishankar (Scholastic), Rs 99
Ana wants a dog but she gets three goldfish instead. Trying to make the best of the situation, Ana and her friend Zain try to liven things up for the fish. Making a visit to the pond nearby to get weeds for the aquarium sets off a trail of events starting with a mysterious dragon.
Taranauts: Secret of the Sparkl Amethysts by Roopa Pai (Hachette), Rs 145
Mithya is a universe of eight worlds lit up by Tara, the rainbow-coloured super sun that has 32 stars in eight iridescent shades. Everything changes when the evil Shaap Azur captures the stars and plunges Mithya into darkness.
Zarpa, Tufan and Zvala, the Taranauts, have their work cut out as they try and get light back in each of the eight worlds. This is the third book in the science fiction fantasy series.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney (Puffin), Rs 250
Kinney’s bumbling hero, Greg Heffley is back in another hilarious instalment of the novel in cartoons. The difference in the fifth book is that Greg is into his teens. His best friend Rowley Jefferson is not at his side constantly. How well does Greg handle all this?
Teenage minds (13-15 years)
Shadowland by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (IndiaInk), Rs 195
Just published in India, this is the third book in The Brotherhood of the Conch series. Everything seems to be peaceful as Anand slips into his role as apprentice healer in a Himalayan valley. That peace is shattered as his precious conch goes missing. Without the power of the conch, the place and its people are as good as dead.
Young Samurai: The Ring of Waterby Chris Bradford (Puffin), Rs 299
The Ring of Water justifies the eager wait. What is The Ring of Water and why is it so important for Jack Fletcher’s survival? Chris Bradford’s Ninja-proficient young Samurai finds out when he wakes up to find himself on the road, defenceless and without a memory.
The Fang of Summoning by Giti Chandra (Hachette), Rs 250
Chandra has come up with a racy debut. What is the connection between what happened to a young 15-year-old girl in 984 AD in Iceland and six boys and girls in 21st century Gurgaon? In the first Book of Guardians, they (the youngest is a toddler) decode the past and come up against a terrifying plot against all mankind. Can their secret power see them through?
Here are some of the books that are set to hit stores later this summer
•‘Let’s Plant Trees’ by Vinod Lal Heera Eshwer (Tulika)
•‘Laxman’s Questions’ by Lata Mani (Pratham)
•‘The Emerald Atlas’ by John Stephens (Random House)
•Scorpia Rising’ by Anthony Horowitz (Walker)
•Kane Chronicles: Neptune Rising’ by Rick Riordan (Penguin)
•‘Septimus Heap: Darke’ by Angie Sage (HarperCollins)
•39 Clues Book 11: Vespers Rising’ by Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman and Jude Watson (Scholastic)
•‘Cherub 12: Shadow Wave’ by Robert Muchamore (Hodder)
M. Venkatesh is the co-owner of Eureka, a specialist children’s book store in New Delhi.
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