Tuesday, December 9, 2014

We turn four!!!!!

It’s been four years since Onestoryaday has come into our lives….and yet (at the risk of sounding repetitive!) it feels like Onestoryaday has been around for much longer!!! Frankly, when I started blogging in  December 2010, I had no clue that Onestoryaday would celebrate its fourth year …in whatever form – be it one story every other day or one story a week or one story a month!:-) What started out as sharing my reading adventures with my then four year old grew into a sounding board for my reflections on my parenting journey! Of course, as seen from the decreasing number of posts every year, it is also true that I haven’t been as regular as I used to be when I first started out. However, it is also true that my life hasn’t been the same since December 2010 and has undergone a sea change (even literally!) over the last four years! After all, even Onestoryaday too cannot escape from the law of diminishing returns! J
Off late, I have discovered that Abhay has progressed to reading on his own and even during bedtime, he prefers picking out his own chapter book instead of  being read aloud to! While I am thrilled that he has discovered the joy of reading by himself and not wanting to turn to any other book until he’s finished his current read, I find it hard to let go!:-) So these days, I know for sure my young reader is  not going to put down Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”  for a picture book that mommy wants to read to him! L In fact, this is why I began writing about our joint reading experiences as you never know when they want to go solo!:-)

At the same time, I have found it hard to find books to read-aloud with slightly complex themes meant more for older kids who are able to understand layered narratives and quasi-adult themes. So is it a time to move on ….. or may be find a another audience…..???:-)
Well, as if to take a cue from this, I have joined the team of bloggers at Parent Edge blog from this month doing the same thing that I love, reviewing and recommending children’s books for parents to read to their kids.
As has been the tradition (which is only four years old!) at Onestoryaday to invite readers and parents to share their favourite stories, books they read as a child and still loved by the child in them and so also the current favourites of their little ones. So here’s inviting all my readers to be a part of Onestoryaday all of this month ……!!!!
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stanley's Stick!

Life is full of surprises!!! Just as you believe your life to be moving in a known direction, an unexpected turn of events can leave you bewildered and unsettled until you come to terms with the change!  Owing to a sudden hectic turn of events on the personal front, I have been missing on the blogosphere and its now been more than a month since my last post on Onestoryaday !  But as the saying goes ….the only thing constant in life is change and you learn to adapt and move on….. so here I am...just in time for its anniversary month! Anyway, now that I got down to revisit my long lost sharing space afforded by blogger, let me straightaway get down to the business of books…..children’s books that I’ve been reading…not just for Abhay!:-)

Not very often you come across a book that speaks to not just the kids but also the parents reading to them. One such book that I happen to stumble upon at the British Library  is “Stanley’s Stick” by John Hegley and illustrated by Neal Layton. Described as capturing “the freewheeling expressiveness of childhood” and touted as “everything a picture book should be”, this is a story of a boy named Stanley who has a fetish for a stick that he always carries with him.  Stanley’s stick was once a part of a majestic tree that Stanley wistfully remembers finding it lying on the ground. Nevertheless Stanley is happy to have a part of something tall and grand and indulges in pretend play of all kinds with his stick! He pretends to use the stick as a whistle, or as match stick all set to light the torch of world games, or his stick becomes “stickosauraus”, a dinosaur not yet extinct!:-) Stanley also managed to rope his friend into joining and they both are seen pretend-fishing with a string attached to his stick…..with the best part being that no fish getting hurt with his stick-fishing! But Stanley had never been able to find an appropriate name for his favourite inanimate companion! For instance, Stirry sounded nice but much more appropriate for a spoon rather than a stick! Once Stanley goes on a beach vacation with his parents and there’s no better company than his stick to scrawl on sand in a languages understood by only Stanley and his stick. As he nears the shore, Stanley is seen in a pensive mood, looking out in the direction of the sea …. As his parents take stock of the situation of what is Stanley about to do, Stanley hurls his stick into the sea, surprised to what a tiny splosh it makes for something that was so big in his life, while his parents wonder if he is upset now that  Stanley is now stickless!!! The next morning, as the tide is out, Stanley decides to look for other sticks or twigs when he chances upon  a twisty stick that is different from the one he had before! Suddenly, Stanley’s bewitched ….and he soon discovers numerous ways of playing with his new twisty stick! Besides….it was easier than before to arrive at a name for his new found favourite – fantastick!!! Well….the book ends with a reflective tone…..Stanley’s fantastic, to which we add…so is his story…..isnt it??
This book not only makes a delightful  read but also works on so many different levels, that leaves a feel-good effect each time one reads it! Beautifully worded, charmingly illustrated, “Stanley’s stick” is not only a tribute to children's imagination but also offers a philosophical perspective to life and conveys a subtle message that lends itself into different meanings at different phases of one’s growing up! So it goes without saying….Stanley’s Stick is definitely for keeps…..as you may want to revisit this book later…to see if you have moved on with the change just as Stanley has!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

For a Quiet Diwali........

The biggest festival amongst Hindus, Diwali or Deepavali is here! While there is no stopping for the annual festivities, family traditions or Diwali Dhamaka sales and offers, this Diwali has seen many people vowing for a greener and cleaner Diwali. With the recent spate of fire accidents in many parts of India owing to fire crackers, an appeal has been made in public interest by various Government and non-government agencies including schools to observe a cracker free Diwali due to ensuing the air and noise pollution and solid waste generated from bursting any kind of fire crackers. Personally, while we’ve never been big fans of noise causing crackers and our Diwali evenings was restricted to lighting the relatively noiseless sparklers, flowerpots and earth twisters, but this time we tried to do away with those too! Though our eight year old, (who has always had his ear plugs on every Diwali) was not gung-ho about the idea initially, we are on Day 1 and it’s been so far so good! Believe me, it’s not just us but many kids on our street are rooting for a quieter Diwali ….may be it’s only a matter of time for the whole neighbourhood to turn our biggest festival into our biggest pro-environment endeavour! Well…think about it….. Diwali evenings are probably best meant for other ways of celebration ..…like may be revisiting the long forgotten bhajans (Abhay is wincing!) or may be catching the latest Bollywood Diwali release with friends and family…..(Abhay is nodding rigorously!)….other than causing noise and pollution! So here’s wishing everyone a cracker-free yet a dazzling Diwali!  

As much as I wanted to read “Diwali gift” by Shwetha Chopra and Shuchi Mehta, I couldn’t lay my hands on a copy just in time for my Diwali post and found the pricing of the hardback a little too steep going by Indian standards. Since we are on the topic of going green this Diwali, I am taking the liberty of sharing an inpsiring true story found in the October issue of children’s magazine, Highlights Champs, in its Goofus and Gallant section.  A Quiet Diwali" by Ashish Jain. This is a story of the 14 year old twins in Chindwada, Madhya Pradesh,… Yash and Yashika Jain who are asked to address their school on the eve of Diwali. The teenage twins describe their  life changing experience of having visited the burn ward of a local hospital during the previous Diwali and were so moved that they jointly decide to boycott crackers once and for all. From then the children have been travelling around Chindwada spreading the message of a quiet and a cracker free Diwali! Just as they finished their address, the teacher asks the students as to how many of the students  plan to celebrate Diwali without crackers …..and you can only imagine what the response was! So are you and your little one ready for a quiet Diwali??   

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mumbai magic!


With most schools closed for Dassera vacations and the ensuing long weekend has had many Bangaloreans catch the travel bug last week…..and how could we be left behind? But unlike our previous travels, we decided on a long pending visit to Mumbai that we’ve been putting off for a decade now. So it was a combination of sorts – visiting/calling on extended family and friends and exploring the commercial capital of India! While we drove in air conditioned cars trudging through the vast expanse of the city’s landscape, we also jostled with the crowd in its local trains; While we were roamed around some of the affluent neighborhoods of Bandra and Juhu and were star struck by simply being shown the houses of famous film stars,  we also enjoyed sauntering around the inner gullies of old town Mumbai and haggling with vendors and shop keepers; While we dined at an upscale restaurant in one of Mumbai’s numerous malls, we also relished the lip smacking authentic Maharashtrian cuisine – so in all savoured every slice the Mumbai magic!

While on a customised sight-seeing tour of the city, we stopped by a couple of exclusive children’s bookstores, leaving our tour guide quite perplexed!  He didn’t know what to make of us as we were done with some of the usual tourist attractions within minutes but took an hour or two at places like Kahani Tree! We first visited Spellbound which is “the place to go” for foreign authors and publications.

After having picked quite a few books, we then chanced upon Kahani Tree, housed in the office of Mumbai based publisher Vakils, Feffer and Simons, it was a like a dream come true to look up a little bookstore dedicated to children’s books brought out by independent publishers in India such as Tulika, Tara and Katha publications. It was indeed a pleasure to meet and interact with Ms. Sangeeta Bhansali, the center’s  Director, Duckbill author Parinita Shetty along with another picture book enthusiast, a mommy like me! A big thanks to Kahani tree for enriching our travel experience like never before ......  truly the most memorable Mumbai moment for us!

As I was looking for children’s books based out of Mumbai, Devaki Bhujang-Gajare from Little Reader's Nook in Mumbai had suggested a couple of books, and sure enough I found them both at Kahani tree.

 Miss Muglee goes to Mumbai” by Saker Mistri and Shaheen Mistri and illustrated by Sirajul Khan and Sheetal Shah brought out by Vakils Feffer and Simons is a part of the series of adventure stories about Muglee, a lonely crocodile and her friends. Muglee feels down and low over her lack of friends and envies other animals for she feels nobody loves the reptile race as a pet, when the friendly frog, Faisal suggests that they travel to Mumbai city. Faisal seeks to introduce Muglee to a charming kitty who has friends who are great fun and will play with everyone! So Muglee excitedly packs her belongings which include her facial cream, toothpaste and ghagras that may just impress a Bollywood movie star! As they reach Mumbai city, Muglee and Faisal find themselves overwhelmed with its skyscrapers and crowded streets and sluggish traffic, while managing to squeeze into a local bus, when they finally meet the charming Kitty at Kitty chowk! So does Muglee manage to make friends under the auspices of Kitty and her associates …read on to find out and go Yezookee jimpee jumpee joh with Muglee and her escapades! With playful collage/cut paper illustrations, Miss Muglee’s stories are sure to appeal to younger children and are ideal for read aloud story times too!

Another book Abhay seemed to devour is “366 words in Mumbai” by Mirabelle D’Cunha and illustrated and designed by Suhita Mitra, brought out by Fun OK publications, as a part of knowledge based series on India’s cities, like our own Bengaluru, Kolkata and Delhi. This book takes the young reader through the history, culture, festivals, dominant seasons and various landmarks of Mumbai in a “look and find” format that adds to up learning 366 words on the city! This book doubles up as a comprehensive tour guide for kids presented and narrated by little Mumbaikars Neel and Sivana. Since we had this book  on our sight-seeing expedition, Abhay was able to live through some of the Mumbai experiences as and when he read about them – live and in action! Aided with colouful illustrations, this book also features a child friendly map and fun facts and statistics about the city that never sleeps! A must have if you are planning a trip to Mumbai!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We the children of India.....

Over the weekend, we attended the third edition of Bangalore Literature Festival held at Crowne Plaza, Electronic city. Unlike the previous   years, we didn't have Abhay accompany us this time as there were no children's events on Day 3, the only day we could find time attend! Though we wished we could take Abhay too, we didn't mind not having to carry home made food for the picky eater or not having to find ways of engaging him amidst a serious discussion/ session with Arun Shourie or not having to run to the restrooms every other hour !:-))) 
However, I still came back with the book to read to Abhay. Though I was aware of this book and had seen it in bookstores and libraries before, I always thought Abhay needs to be a little older to be able  fully comprehend the essence of it. But it was only when Justice Leila Seth mentioned that children as young as seven were able to understand the basic tenets, like equality and freedom enshrined in the Constitution of India, that I picked up for tonight's read. Of course, this is not a book your young reader can finish in one sitting and requires an explanation here and there. 
When I read, "We the children of India" by retired Justice Leila Seth, the first woman Chief Justice of a High Court in India, whom I had the privilege to meet at the BLF 2014,  I was plain jealous! I wish this book was written when I was in school, considering I had set my heart on law very early! The book starts off with a basic introduction to the National book of India called the Constitution, throwing light on the circumstances under which the Constituent Assembly sought to adopt the same. With the aid of suitable examples and colourful illustrations featuring children, Justice Leila Seth, explains the meaning and effect of each of the principles -Sovereign, socialist, secular, Democratic Republic, and constitutional guarantees like Justice, Liberty, Equality and fraternity, in a succinct and an age appropriate manner! We the children of India also has everything a young reader needs to know about workings of the Indian democratic system and the rights of its people, including our little ones! Characteristically, the former high court judge has saved the best for last - she draws up a preamble for the children of India with a message of love, respect and hope!!! A must read for all the children of India!!! However, don't be surprised if your young reader quotes this book to challenge the constitutionality of your house rules!!!!:-)