Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

Today is the last day of the year 2011 and as we get ready to welcome the new year, it is time to take stock of the year that was – events and non-events, changes - temporary and permanent, choices – voluntary and involuntary, all of which are dated 2011. As we see the best of everything in the year 2011 shown on television or in the newspapers, I thought I should recap my five favorite books of 2011 featured on One Story a day!
In no particular order, my personal favorites are:-

The Story of Ferdinand   by Munro Leaf : To be or not to be - the Stereotype!   A timeless classic that teaches all parents to love them enough to let them go!

The Sandwich Swap by Her Majesty Oueen Rania Alabdulla : Show me the Curd Rice!  A smart way to tackle picky Eaters!
When I grow up by Al Yankovic :What do you want to be when you grow up?  A children's book by the famous American-singer -comedian sure to make you laugh!
The Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker : Square's Fair The post earned a recognition from the author herself!

Oh!No! Its time to go: A book of Goodbyes by Rebecca DoughtyOh! No! Its time to go! A final goodbye to our life in the US and wonderful companion to say those tough words!

Hope we get to read more and more such books in the year 2012  too!

Story time - Guest post by Pooja

Pooja joins One Story a day in celebrating the picture books that her sons enjoy reading while she delights you with her adventures in Mommyhood!

Friday, December 30, 2011

December Vacation!

December has been my favorite month for various reasons! December is the season for many cultural events relating to classical music in South India; December means the onset of winter which was and still is mild in Bangalore when compared to the cold weather in the US. When growing up, December was the time for many outdoor activities in school like sports day, school day, etc. December meant Christmas vacation at school that happily coincided with my mother’s Christmas break at her college; December was also our annual vacation time as a family and finally my dad’s birthday also happens to fall on the month of December! So every year during the last week of December, we celebrate his birthday at my parents’ farm house, ever since it was built in 2006 at Dharmasthala in the South Kanara district of Karnataka. It is not just a house and a plantation, but truly my dad’s labor of love! My parents have not only invested so much of their time, money and energy but have given their heart and soul to our little paradise called ‘Shristi’! For Abhay, of course, it is an idyllic vacation in his grandpa’s farm house. For us, the lush green plantation, vast open spaces, panoramic view of the sky and my mother’s delicious cooking makes it a perfect getaway that beats any star hotel, resort or a homestay! J

Today, I read “On the farm”, a level 1 in the “I like to Read” Early Reader series. Initially I was not sure of how good an Early Reader it was, but I was pleasantly surprised! I must say that this Early Reader has an ideal blend of common short vowel and long vowel sounds for any emergent reader to read. Abhay was able to read the entire book with very little help. Bobby and Tina go to a farm with their pet dog Sandy and pet cat Kitty. All of them like the farm very much. Sandy and Kitty run behind the ducks, chicks and the sheep in the farm. Sandy then knocks off a pail full of milk that Kitty is happy to clean up.  Bobby and Tina enjoy doing things on the farm like sweeping off the leaves and taking their pets on a wagon ride. As the weather gets hot, Bobby and Tina dive into a cool pool and soak up some sun before it starts to rain and so ends their fun filled trip on the farm. Today being the last day of our week long stay at our farm, I dedicate this to the Shristikarta (Creator) of Shristi – Happy 60th Birthday Appa!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

It’s that time of the year again that has us nostalgic of our stay in the US. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I wish we could disapparate ( in Harry Potter language)  to Portland just to experience the holiday frenzy that would have enveloped the entire US!  It may sound like I’m exaggerating, but one must see it to believe it – Christmas spirit is so infectious that it rubs off a little on even the most impervious ones. In fact, we had even got our own little Christmas tree and hung all the embellishments that traditionally go with the Christmas centerpiece. So when we see Giant Christmas trees at malls and shops in Bangalore, we miss our little tree that we left behind in the US. So much so that even Abhay lamented over the lack of some of the customary decorations on a Christmas tree we saw at a shop…”Amma they don’t have ginger bread cookie or a snow flake on the tree” were his exact words! Anyway, Christmas tree or no Christmas Tree, we still had our in-house Santa come in with gifts! J

So yesterday on Christmas day, I read “Merry Christmas Mom and Dad” a book from the Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer. Little Critter is all set to make it a special Christmas for his mom and dad. He first attempts to put together a Christmas wreath but it falls apart as soon as it is hung on the door. He tries his hand at decorating the ginger bread cookies that his mom bakes but cant resist from tasting them. He goes to the toy shop to look for a present for his parents but gets confused as there are too many toys to choose from. So he leaves it to Santa to pick a present for his parents. He picks out a Christmas tree that is too big to take home; He plans on putting up the star on top of the tree all by himself but ended up seeking the help of his dad, after all. On Christmas eve, he tries hard to go to bed early but is just too excited to fall asleep. Finally, on the morning of Christmas day, he stirs out of bed at the crack of dawn and instead of waiting for his parents to wake up; he goes downstairs to find his presents lay at foot the Christmas tree! He then goes up to wake up his sleeping parents with a card that reads “Merry Krismas Mom and Dad”!! Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Noisy Book!

Abhay has always been sound sensitive from the beginning. Even as an infant, it was clear that he was irked by screeching sounds like that of a simple whistle or the whistle of a pressure cooker, though he made his displeasure known with a  high pitched screech himself! Soon we moved to the US and living in a quiet environment like Portland, he was insulated from all that noise typical to an Indian city. So when we moved back to Bangalore…..he had a problem with all those noises that most kids brought up in Bangalore tend to ignore or for that matter don’t seem to notice at all! For instance, it is only Abhay who notices that our neighbor has turned off her pressure cooker after four whistles, or that the next door maid is washing clothes on the wash stone or wonders why our neighbor hasn’t picked up the ringing telephone yet or covers his ears at a birthday party when the big balloon pops out glitters and candies or gets angry at vehicles with screeching horns or seems puzzled by the Namaz call at a nearby mosque or waits until the water pump has been turned off to go to bed! Well….as my husband says …. and it is only Abhay’s mom who makes a big deal out of it …by blogging about it!!!:-)

Anyway, sticking to my tradition of making each of his “issues” worthy of  a book to read aloud and write about, today I read “The Noisy Book” by Margret Wise Brown and pictures by Leonard Wiesgard. A little dog named Muffin gets a cinder in his eye and is taken to a doctor. The doctor puts a bandage over his eyes which he had to have it on the whole day. Suddenly as Muffin couldn’t see anything, he could hear everything – the tick tock sound of the clock, siss siss sound of the radiator, the snip snap sound of the scissors, ting ling sound of the telephone and not only that, he suddenly became conscious of the sound of his stomach growling, the buzz of the little fly, kerchoo of the sneeze of the doctor’s dog! As he walked back home blindfolded, he heard all the street noises – construction noises, car horns and the biggest noise of the street- the siren of the fire truck. Besides the obvious noises, Muffin managed to hear the sun rise, or the sound of snow, and other little noises one tends to ignore! Then he tried to figure out a mysterious noise that sounded like a garbage can, a big fierce lion, or the engine of a train, or a big boat or an airplane and that actually turned out to be a baby doll –a gift for Muffin from his well-wishers! Abhay quite liked the “Noisy book” and Im pretty sure that it has all to do with the way the story ends! J

Red Riding Hood!

Picture of me dressed as Red Riding Hood!
As a kid, I have always been fascinated by the story of Red Riding Hood. In many ways I sort of identified with her – an innocent little girl who loves red and loves to visit her grandma! In fact, when I was about Abhay’s age, I had dressed up as Red Riding Hood at a fancy dress event in school. Now after all these years, I still love the color red and have admired my grandma, who is now no more, but I have somewhere lost that innocence or the unstoppable excitement that Red Riding Hood represents, or for that matter any kid signifies! You may call it a innocence or niavete, but there was something charming about Red Riding Hood that still appeals to the  little girl in me! So imagine my delight when I discovered that out of all the classic children’s stories like Goldilocks or Three little pigs or Elves and the Shoemaker, Abhay’s favorite is Red Riding Hood  …..and that too for the exact same reasons! He adores the color red and well.....need I even mention how much he loves going to his grand parents’ house! Though I had stayed away from reading the same old classics  thinking that he would anyways have access to them in school or on TV, I had to read this one...both for my little one and the little girl I once was!:-)
Though there are several publications of this timeless tale, I picked up this one from the British Council Library titled “Little Red Riding Hood from Award Publications, a Read along with Me book and CD. Abhay enjoyed reading with the help of pictorial representations of various words. Though this didn’t amount to reading per se, but surely encourages kids to read on their own. This is a story of  a little girl who was so good that her mother decided  to make her a little red jacket with a hood and she looked so pretty that everyone called her Red Riding Hood. So begins the story of Red Riding Hood who sets off to see her grandma and has a dangerous run-in with the wolf. How she manages to escape from the clutches of the evil wolf is what will keep your little one on the edge of his or her bed! Besides, the story also conveys a valuable message warning the young ones of the dangers in talking to strangers! If you or your little one is a fan of Red Riding Hood….dont miss this one!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My world!

Abhay loves his room! He loves to play by himself and conjure up his imaginary world within the four walls of his room. When my little monster is busy in his den, he wants to be left alone! When he is up in his room, building with his legos, or setting up his own version of the Island of Sodor (the land of Thomas and other trains) or the town of Radiator Springs (From the movie ‘Cars’), he is in a parallel universe! Nothing we say or do can get him back to real world! The real world where dinner is waiting, or visiting guests eager to meet him, or his grandparents expecting to hear his voice on the phone! So much so that there have been times when he has chosen to remain in his room over going to the park, or going cycling, or even playing or reading a book with me! In other words, my five-year old has already put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door and I’m unable to understand how we got to this point so quickly!:-)

Today we read about one such girl named Padma, who wants to be left alone in her imaginary world of space and time travel instead of having lunch! “Padma goes to Space” by Swetha Prakash and pictures by Shreya Sen. Padma has been hiding under the sofa trying to read her favorite book “The Time Travel Adventures of the Amazing Eight” where eight adventurous children travel in a butterfly shaped time machine along with the green-eyed star pup called Glazza, who always gets them in trouble.  As she is immersed in her world of space excursions, fruit juice erupting volcanos, and giant tortoises holding the universe on their back, her mother calls her for lunch. Padma does not find her mother’s Bhindi curry (Okra) appetizing; Instead she wishes to eat Star Rock Salad from Galaxy Stellar 5689, the regular diet of the Amazing Eight during their space expeditions! Even as her mother rubbishes her claim of the Amazing Eight, she holds on to her belief that somewhere in the universe children travel in time machines and decides to build a time machine of her own when all grown up. But now her mother sounds upset as she looks for Padma all over the house. Too scared to crawl out of the sofa, Padma closes the book and lies motionless in order to avoid being caught by her mother who now seems livid with anger. Just as she tries to control her breathing, she imagines the green eyed dog, Glazza popping out of the book. Before she reacts, Glazza calls out to her mother and gets her into trouble just like it always does!  This book shows how books ignite the imagination of young minds and empower them to think out of the box! Though Abhay could relate to Padma and her fascinating world of space, I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. I guess Abhay felt the same and wanted to know more  – did Padma get a scolding or was she given a time out, did she have star rock salad or did she settle for bhindi? Left to your imagination……Abhay!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sports Day!

It was Sports day in Abhay’s school yesterday and though a regular feature in most schools here, it was Abhay’s first in his three years of schooling. Though  sports has been an integral part of the American culture, with kids being introduced to team sports at an early age, I did not come across many pre-schools in the US observing something like a Sports day! Whereas in India, every little school celebrates a Sports Day even though we aren’t a sports oriented culture! Anyway, since Abhay has never been the athletic type, we didn’t think he’ll enjoy sports day as much. But we were wrong and one of those rare moments when we were glad to be wrong! Abhay was all smiles during the obstacle race, or at the march past, or while dancing to a Goan Folk song or when receiving a medal as did his classmates who were all declared winners at Sports Day! In other words, who wins and who loses – who cares? We only care if they have fun! J

Speaking of sports, I recently discovered that Abhay is completely clueless about the most famous team sport in India – Cricket! So much so that on seeing the illustration of a boy swinging a cricket bat on the cover page of a book, he exclaimed that it was a game of baseball! So I turned to “Cricket” a little book on a big game by Sandhya Rao and the illustrations in the book are nothing but photogrphs of everyday Indians playing cricket. It’s a hot day with cool breeze when a boy hears the sound ‘Tthokk and Lo and Behold …it is a game of cricket! Any time of the day or any time of the year is time for cricket. Any place, be it narrow lanes or broad streets is the place for cricket. Anything flat will do for a bat and any object round will serve as a ball. It does not matter if we are small or we don’t run as fast, cricket is a game that can be played by anyone, anywhere and any time!   A bilingual tribute to the Indian sport that transcends age, gender, region and economic or social strata! As I read this book, I asked Abhay if he will play cricket in the future, he considered the question for a moment  before he replied “I can try”!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Memories of Portland!

It’s been four months since we left the US and frankly we don’t miss Portland as much as we had expected, except for the little things. Like its green landscape, or the rain (I never thought I would say this!) or it’s walking trails or some of its gourmet restaurants! Similarly, it’s the little things that transport us back to our previous life in the US – like on hearing the same songs that used to play on our car stereo or the familiar scent of our hand sanitizer that we brought from Portland or the taste of strawberries, seasonal here and available all year round in Portland. Last but certainly not the least, remembering all our friends from Portland always takes us back to the good times we’ve had together while at PDX! Missing all of you guys!

The reason for my nostalgia being that yesterday, I happen to meet my long- time friend Rama who came down to visit Bangalore from Portland last week with her sixteen month daughter Eera. Rama has always brought wonderful books for Abhay and this time too she gifted a gem! Thank you Rama for giving Abhay something to remember Portland by!! “Spenser loves Portland” by Melanie Brooks and illustrations by Amie Jacobsen, an Early reader series based on America’s favorite travel dog named Spenser. Abhay loved reading the entire book and was also intrigued by Spenser’s interesting questions on each page. Spenser loves to travel to different cities in the US with his mom and they decide to visit Portland in the State of Oregon. Well prepared for Portland’s rainy weather, Spenser goes sight-seeing around Portland. He discovers that Portland is famous for its tall mountains, breathtaking waterfalls, its beautiful waterfront and colorful rose gardens. That’s not all, Portland is also home to a famous bookstore  and has some great ice cream too! Besides, Portland is known to be a green city with its environment friendly policies and practices. Finally Spenser concludes that he loves Portland and hopes that you too get to visit Portland one day! We couldn’t agree more!!!  A must read for all kids in Portland and kids who have been to Portland and kids who plan to visit Portland! J

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweet Dreams!

While co sleeping with your little one is an exception rather than a norm in the US, it is quite the opposite in India! As Indian parents bringing up our son in the US, we were uncomfortable with an idea of letting our toddler son sleep on his own in a separate room all by himself! But three years in the US turned us from non-believers into staunch believers, even swearing by the practice of  having your son sleep independently in his own room. Initially though reluctant, Abhay soon gave in …or in other words reconciled to the fact that he must go to bed in his own room and that he really didn't have a choice! When we expected the same in Bangalore, we faced stiff resistance, not so much from our five year old, but from his grandparents!  Expecting a young child to sleep in a room separate from his parents, even if it is literally next door, was termed too American for our Indian sensibilities!  What if he falls off the bed; what happens if he has a bad dream; how will he be able to use the bathroom in the middle of the night?” were the kind of doubts that were raised. Our assurances that  “He can’t possibly fall off a 3 feet wide bed, or that with a night light on, he can simply walk up to our room if he has a bad dream or wants to use the bathroom” didn’t sound convincing to them! With the support of his grandparents, Abhay too began to rebel! Finally  we found hope in a method that most parents fall back on when nothing else works – bribery! Thanks to a reward point system ( where he gets a sticker for each night of independent sleep and a certain number of stickers add up to a reward), we were successful in getting Abhay to sleep in his new bed in his new all I have to say is…touchwood! J

Abhay now sleeps in a made to order bed along with his best buddies – Curious George, Nemo and Winnie the Pooh with Lightening Mcqueen flashing his signature smile at the head of his bed. So today I had him read “Ted in a Red Bed” by Phil Roxbee Cox & Stephen Cartwright, an Early Reader with short e sounds and blends from Usborne publications. This is an Early Reader that stands true to its name being easy enough for pre-schoolers to sustain interest in reading. Ted goes shopping one day and stops by Fred’s furniture store and likes the red bed on display. Fred, the Penguin, the owner of the store encourages him to hop on the bed and rest his head on the yellow pillow. As soon as he slips his feet under the sheet, he feels the need for a bed just like the one sold by Fred. He buys the bed and decides to put it to immediate use and falls asleep on the bed he just bought. Now it is up to Fred to have Ted and his bed delivered home! As Fred has his associates lift the bed and shift it inside a delivery truck, Ted who is sound asleep on the bed, has a dream that he bobs on a wave into a cave! As the truck carries Ted and his bed, Ted in turn has a dream that he can fly in the sky and as he is brought home along with his bed, Ted dreams that he is back by the stream! As he wakes up with a snore, he realizes that he is no longer in the store and is home with his new bed. Ted then concludes that his red bed must be a magic bed! Abhay loved this book and looks like it will be his new favorite for sometime now! Im not sure if he understood what actually happened with Ted and his bed, but he seemed fascinated by Ted’s dreams. Let’shope our little Ted  sleeps in and has sweet dreams in his own bed! J

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Old Favorite!

Revisiting your old favorites not only brings back memories, but also opens up a new perspective of looking at things. This is especially true with picture books as either your child would have grown up or you have evolved since you last read the book! Your little one may not have understood the underlying meaning of the text or you may have overlooked a subtle detail in the illustration and reading it again only confirms why it is, after all your favorite!
Today’s book is a famous title that we had read over and over again, but for some reason didn’t figure in the blog. I had picked up Eric Carle’sThe Grouchy Ladybug” sometime back and read it when Abhay was just over three years old. Like any Eric Carle’s work, this one too captures the imagination of the young and inspires the not so young too! J When I first read this book, Abhay could not tell time or could not comprehend the message conveyed through the medium of a not so friendly lady bug. But over a period of time, he has learnt to do both and when I read the book, probably for the 100th time, he was anything but bored!

This is a story about a grouchy ladybug that refuses to share and pays the price! The author brilliantly illustrates a day in the life of a ladybug while introducing basic time telling concepts and taking you and your little one on a wildlife expedition. As the narration is repetitive, it makes an interesting read for toddlers and early pre schoolers too. The story begins at 5.00 Am in the morning when a friendly ladybug flies in from the left to feed on the aphids on a leaf, when a grouchy ladybug flies in from the right with same intention of feeding on aphids for breakfast. When the friendly ladybug offers to share them, the grouchy ladybug declines and declares that she wants them all and offers to fight her instead! When the friendly ladybug reluctantly agrees to a fight, the grouchy ladybug, unsure of herself retracts saying “You are not big enough for me” and flies off looking for a suitable opponent. And so begins her quest for someone who is big enough for her to fight – a yellow jacket, a beetle, a mantis, a sparrow, a lobster, skunk, a boa constrictor, a hyena, a gorilla, a rhinoceros, an elephant and finally a blue whale all of whom she encounters every hour and all of whom, according to her, are not big enough for her to fight! Each encounter ends with her audacious parting shot “You are not big enough me” except when it comes to the whale who lands her a slap that in turn lands the grouchy ladybug on the same leaf as she began in the morning.  But the only difference at 6.00 PM in the evening, is that  she is no longer a grouchy ladybug, but a humbled one who is now willing to share her dinner with the ever-so- friendly ladybug! What a colorful way to teach everyone the importance of sharing and being nice to others! A must read classic for all kids!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Your Favorite book!

With One Story a day completing a year, we decided to celebrate and no celebration is complete without a cake and when a cake is brought home, no matter what or who’s special occasion it is, by default, it is Abhay who always cuts the cake!  With close family and my friend Aparna with her daughter Nesara present, Abhay was glad to do the honors but wondered aloud if it is his sixth birthday already! Even so, he further probed ‘Why does the cake have only one candle’?

It’s been a year since I started blogging about Abhay and though he has seen his pictures in my posts, I’m pretty sure he does not realize what it means. Anyway, it will not be long before he discovers One Story a day and find his entire horoscope featured therein …and when that happens I hope it reminds him of our favorite times together - reading our favorite books!

Talking about favorite books, today I read “Charlie Cook’s Favorite book” by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler. A book about  a boy named Charlie Cook who curls up in a cosy chair to read his favorite books – a book about a pirate chief  who unearths a treasure chest which turns out to be a treasure of books; a book about Goldilocks who lay on baby bear’s bed reading baby bear’s favorite book; a book about a knight who tames a dragon by reading out a joke from a book; a book about a frog who jumps upon a book and goes “Reddit! Reddit! Reddit!”; a book about a headless ghost who puts her head back on again to read her favorite book and finally a book about a boy named Charlie Cook himself who is engrossed in the world of his favorite books! So everyone has a favorite book – what’s yours?


My Collection

It feels  so good to be invited to share my  favourite children’s books. Thanks for the same Divya. 

As I kid, I remember reading “Misha” -a Russian children’s magazine. It had beautiful stories, riddles, general knowledge stuff ,all beautifully illustrated with pictures. I  found  a cover picture of the magazine on the net and attached the same below.

After extensive browsing I found the following link : where one can read it online. Please check out.
As  a little girl, I loved all the fantasy stories. One of the best ways  to cater to my desire of reading fantasy were the Disney books. I had a collection of them. These include : Cinderella, Snow white and Seven dwarfs, Sleeping beauty, The little Mermaid, Peter Pan , the Jungle Book, Bambi , Dumbo and many more.
I was also interested in epics like Ramayan. My all time favourite  is Enid Blyton’s  “The Famous Five” which got me interested in reading  forever. I have the collection of all the volumes.
There is a wonderful website: for online reads for kids. Do check out. The one I liked in particular was  Who Did Patrick's Homework? “by Carol Moore. Read this  to Abhay and let me know what he thinks. The link is as follows :
Hope you like my collection .Thanks again for your invitation.JJ

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy First Birthday!

One Story a day turns ONE today and just like we find it hard to believe how fast our babies grow up, I cant believe that it has been a year since I started blogging about my baby and the books I read to him. It only seems like yesterday when I, fascinated by the world of picture books, sat curled up in my couch on a chilly December afternoon in Portland, USA trying to recall the different picture books I had read to my four year old son. As I began to type out the names and the authors of the books, I realized that there was no point in creating a word document that seemed more like a catalogue, if not anything else. What I really meant to do was somehow find a way to preserve the memories associated with reading those books to Abhay, record his reactions, share them with friends and family and create a scrapbook of those wonderful moments we’ve had while reading them, a kind of time capsule that I can revisit anytime, anywhere, anyplace – and that’s how One story a day came about. It has been a wonderful ride all along, with my blog accompanying us on our travels, on various special occasions and staying on even after our recent move back to India.When I began last December, I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with reading one story a day, every day. As I reached the 100th post this April, I was thrilled to have done it…at least most of the time. But the major challenge was to keep it going even after I relocated to Bangalore…..and all thanks to the new age libraries in my hometown, we could continue our reading journey together. So One story a day, though now as One story every other day, is still going strong! Thanks to my family, friends and all my readers for their continued support and encouragement and most of all thank you to the protagonist of my blog– Abhay!
On the occasion of completion of first year, I invite all my readers to contribute to One Story a day - share yours and your little one's favorite books, books that made both of you laugh, cry, or that touched your hearts or your soul, books that though meant for your little one, taught you something, books that you and your child wanted to read over and over again, books that your child never forgets and you never forget the response it evokes ....books, books and more books! Share them with the world!