Monday, June 23, 2014

Football fever!

It’s the soccer season once again! We are not exactly soccer fans at home, but what’s the harm in joining in all the sporting entertainment that FIFA 2014 offers…isn’t it?? In fact, everyone from sports bars, retailers, clubs to Google  seems to have caught the football fever!  So much so that a popular daily soap on the television channel Star plus had one of its child protagonists scoring the winning goal in a football tournament played to an eager audience comprising of the said character’s “large” extended family ……the suspense stretching to almost a week! (which of course had our entire family watching with bated breath!!) So how can we at Onestoryaday be left behind?? I couldn't believe my luck when I chanced upon the perfect book at the British Library for Abhay to read by himself (which almost never happens as the book I want is never available). My excitement was short-lived though as it turns out that the library too had jumped into the bandwagon, and I got a call requesting me to turn in the said book a little earlier than my due date as it  is required for a special program in the library prizes for guessing.... soccer!!!! I one can escape from being FIFAfied!!! :-)


I was hoping to feature this book a little later  in the football season, but I had to concede to the library's request and had Abhay read this at the initial play-offs. "Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend" by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross, an early chapter book in presented in an Early Reader format. as the football fever heats up...Though I am not a great fan of the popular young reader fiction such as Horrid Henry or Geronimo Stilton, you however cant deny their universal appeal and easily relatable subjects amongst the primary school kids. As Henry daydreams in class, about scoring the winning goal for his football team his teacher Miss Battle Axe shocks the entire class by her announcement related to football. It turns out that their local team Aston Ahtletic had made it to the finals of the FA cup and was set for a face-off with Manchester United and so every primary school was given two free tickets to the match. Thanks to Miss Battle-Axe’s good luck during the teachers’ lucky draw, the lucky winner would be chosen from Henry’s class and Miss Battle Axe decided to hold a football match with the player of the match winning the tickets. So Horrid-Henry, Aerobic-Al, Beefy-Bert, Jazzy-Jim and the favourite Moody- Margret (who has the distinction of being the first best, second best and third best foot ball player in class) battle it out on the field, tripping and tackling each other for the prized tickets. Finally as “the hand of God” comes to Henry’s rescue, Henry is so certain to win the tickets that he is already planning on picking his guest for the other ticket….but does Miss Battle Axe award him the tickets?? Have your young reader read on and find out what really happens in the football field!  Go on stay up late….to catch the Hot-foot Henry’s football match ….packed with fun, action, and don’t-try-this-in school football strategies! Enjoy the soccer season everyone! :-)

Friday, June 20, 2014


The last few days has seen Bangalore experience some kind of a preview of the oncoming monsoon with overcast skies and briefs spells of rain. Just as we begin to rejoice in the transition into cooler days, the sun shines down in all its brilliance and bristling heat… if the clouds were only a teaser! J If you think about it, cloudy days have a lot to offer - they make your commute to work or commuting to different locations a lot tolerable without the oppressive heat,  cloudy days can hand out an excuse for your little one to walk in to school in coloured clothes as his school uniform has not dried in time and of course …cloudy days make you want to bunk office and sit by the window or your balcony curled up with a book (lucky if you are actually able to do this!)  At times.......the anticipation of rain is better than the rain itself..isn’t it??

I'd picked up this book for its title but found it to be deeper in essence and meaning. Cloudland by John Birmingham not only makes a delightful read but throws up some philosophical questions about death and afterlife in such a subtle manner that it may almost be lost on your young reader as he finds himself enchanted by its dreamy theme and captivated by its brilliant and imaginative illustrations. Albert and his parents hike high up to the mountains with clouds floating below them! As they decide to head back before dark, there occurs a terrible accident-Albert falls off the cliff! His parents look all over for him but cannot find him. But as Albert falls, he is rescued by the children living in the clouds chanting magical words that sound like  "Fumble gralley goggle ho hee, Teetum waggle bari se nee, Gargle giggle fiddle num dee" and so on and so forth! Albert suddenly feels lighter when the Cloud children offer to make him a bed of clouds on which he is seen falling asleep. Albert along with the cloud children embarks on new adventures every day encircling the clouds, like climbing up the tall clouds, jumping on them and playing cloud ball,  beating drums and blowing trumpets in their attempt to match up to the noise of thunderstorms, soaking in the rain, painting pictures by a  beautiful rainbow, racing on little clouds amidst the airplane flying above their heads, etc Albert was literally in cloud 9!  But one night as he looked down from his cloud bed, he saw lights of a city and this made him think of his mom and dad and wished he could go home! As the word spread,  the Cloud queen finds it surprising as no one has ever wanted to go back home after having lived in the clouds. But as Albert is determined, the Cloud queen treats Albert to a farewell party with the Man in the Moon. The Cloud queen has the clouds drift over the city where Albert lived and sends off Albert chanting the magical words backwards. The next thing Albert remembers is that he is back in his own room waking up to his mom and dad! So was it a just a dream or heralding a new beginning?? The main appeal of this book lies in the illustrations - John Birmingham's black and white figures set against photographic images spin a magical tale that can either be taken as-it-is or for its underlying meaning. Overall, a great book to mull over clouds, imaginary adventures, life and beyond with your young reader!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Confessions of a father!:-))

Father's Day post by Rajaram (Abhay's dad)
Kids find it easier to deal with dads of today as compared to moms and I will tell you why! No offence moms! While both go through stress in bringing up their kids, the stress that each parent goes through is different in nature and intensity! While moms do all the hardwork of planning the activities including logistics for their kids, working through the schedule of the husband's and others around, dads carry the stress of complying with the same! More often than not, the onus of chalking out a workable plan lies on the moms and their anxiety over its execution reflecting on their behaviour make the dads appear cooler!:-)) Okay.... Getting carried away here! :-)) One thing's certain, what starts off as a chore for dads ends up being one of the most enjoyable parts of their routine! For instance, when my son Abhay was born, my wife literally forced "my time-Abhay time" into my daily schedule as a way of getting me to spend some quality time with our little one! Along time, not only did I look forward to it, but found my son eagerly pulling me into what became our numerous joint ventures together! Today on Father's Day, I had a moment reflection on seeing a card handcrafted by  Abhay, where he has thanked me for some of his recent expeditions! It's great to be a dad ... a smile on your child's face or a hug seeking reassurance makes all your running around a meaningful and a worthwhile experience! 
Divya had picked a special book for today to read to Abhay.  It's titled 'FArTHER', brilliantly written and magnificently illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith. This is a story narrated by a son about his memories of his childhood spent with his father in their house made of stone atop a cliff near the ocean.  Father is set out to build his dream which is a flying machine. He worked on it days and nights and the small son would watch the father with keen eyes. Father would be so immersed in his dream/work, that the boy would wait for his dad to remember of his existence.  Then suddenly the father would scoop up the son like a wind and play with him cricket, fly kites together and swim. Then they would be together until the dream of flying returned to them. But before the dad could realise the dream of flying,  the story takes a twist of fate. The father is called to join the army and the khaki clad dad's wave of hand is the last the son sees of him. However one day, father's dream speaks to the now grown up son and he takes up the old wings from his father's workshop and completes the flying machine and flies!! The story ends with the son having his own son and with him wondering what will he do in the future and whether his father's dream would visit his son too...
The illustrations literally take you to a different world of father, son and the dreams!  The book is said to be inspired by the author's experience of being a son and a father.  Abhay was in rapt attention throughout and was trying to take in the essence of the story though being tough for a 7 year old to follow and understand the deep emotions in this book. He did not like the father going away and not coming back but liked the overall father son bonding so nicely depicted throughout.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

School Days .....!!

It’s back to school time for most households in Bangalore! It’s doubly so in our household as I am back to black and white, with civil courts reopening after a month long vacation. Why…It only feels like yesterday when I was trying to work out an ideal vacation-cum-summer camp schedule for our seven year old to enjoy and be engaged!  Whoosh…..two months have flown past! Now we are back to the days of ….morning rush, lunchbox challenge, homework help, the re-imposition of the “Early to bed Early to rise” rule and not to mention the  parental rule “Early Bird in the evening gets to check on the school diary ! :-) In many ways though, school days mean falling back on regular routine and schedules that had during the holidays got a little irregular if not more hectic, with back to back summer camps, sports/swimming coaching, additional activities to keep the kids busy and in some cases (in ours, actually!) parents enrolling into morning activities that would have been impossible on regular school days!!:-)  Phew!! So settling back to the predictable school-office-home routine with a weekly class or two can’t be that bad at all ….isn’t it??J

For our back to school read….we picked “School Days”, a collection of 16 short stories by different authors brought out by Children’s Book Trust publications. Frankly, I hadn’t expected much when I picked this up, but  should have known better, considering I’d bought this off the travelling bookstore supporting  Bookalore at Bookalore 's  annual event early this year. All the stories make a delightful read and may almost get one nostalgic about his or her very own school days. Some of the stories carried familiar names that had me thinking of my schoolmates!:-) Well written and easily relatable stories that brilliantly portray the conflict, mischief, determination and distractions of middle and high school students. There’s “The Boomeranged Prank” by Madhumita Gupta ( a prank played by Arpit, Aniket and Abhinav, a trio gang of backbenchers on the teacher’s pet backfiring - a story of any naughty boys’ gang) or the tension Smitha goes through at having forgotten her homework at home in  The Forgotten Homework” by Manoj T Thomas (totally my story!) or about how Rumah overcomes her embarrassment of having to wear glasses in “School daysVandana Kumari Jena (a story of someone close to me!) or confusion in the computer lab in “CTRL + Z” by R.L.Sailaja (could be Abhay’s story!). This book sure makes an ideal read at the start of the new school year as you read and reflect on those carefree days when life was all about homework, tests, school house rivalry, classroom pranks, and the unforgettable friends you make at school! Have a great school year ahead!  

                                             Abhay's first day first show!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mango Mania!

Summer is almost on its way out and so are a number of things that summer brings. Summer vacations are nearly over and most schools (barring schools with the International Baccaluareate syllabus) are all set to reopen this week, or have already reopened. The Mango season too is at its fag end and come monsoon …….and you’ll have everyone warning you against the perils of monsoon mangoes. I am not sure if it’s because of the late arrival of mangoes this season or that our household has suddenly cut back on the sugar intake, we didn’t seem to relish as many mangoes as we used to during the previous summers. No worries, our attendance at Rangashankara’s annual Mango party yesterday has most certainly made up for our ‘mango’less summer!
Dressed in yellow and green, and like last year, we went in with one kilo mangoes per head and savoured as many different varieties of mangoes as we could lay our hands on! 


While we couldn't stay on for the Mango story contest and other allied activities due to a family related event later in the evening, I had a book just for the occasion!  Following on the National Book Trust  reads on Onestoryaday, we read "Mad Mango" a  publication   NBT by A.N. Pednekar and illustrated by Manjula Padmanabhan. This is a story of the daredevil mango tree! 

Though a tad long, this is a 'breaking-barriers' story centered around a mango tree and has many elements, life lessons, environment and public service message packed into it.  The Mango tree resents being stuck to one place, and is sick and tired of being pelted with stones by village urchins. Enamoured with the stories narrated by  travelers from far-off lands resting in its shade, he decides to explore the world! The other trees can't seem to understand as to how and why would a tree want to uproot itself only to encounter danger while out in the open!   The Mango tree offers to take his two friends, the Jackfruit tree and Tamarind tree along but instead they make fun of him and call him “The Mad Mango”!  The sudden fall of the  Jackfruit tree owing heavy rains has Mango tree all the more determined to go out and see the marvels of the world.  So the Mango tree sets about ….pulling out his roots from the ground.  Along the way,  he is perplexed by the ways of the world, almost crashes into a car on the road, scares people who attribute a walking tree to the work of a ghost, and also helps a poor family with its juicy mangoes only to be threatened to be cut down by the same family  for fuel! As he unknowingly moves into a reserved forest area, he finds a  number plate 5879  pinned on to his trunk signifying government property protected from deforestation. Even as he misses the luxury of being provided with sustenance standing in one place,  the mango tree  is in no mood to belong to anyone and decides to fend for itself and goes in search of water.  As he reaches the river, he feels refreshed and slides into the stream, embarking on another adventure to meet the sea and soon Mad Mango is seen become one with the river! Thus it is said that this madness and spirit of adventure will always be a part of the mango....just like an adventurous Sunday spent at Rangashankara devouring mangoes after mangoes...!:-)