For readers 3-5 years old
Catch that Moustache Thief!, Sukumar Ray, translated from the Bengali by Sudeshna Shome Ghosh, illustrated by Pankaj Saikia
The Big Boss in the office is sure that his precious moustaches are gone – stolen! Everyone tells him this is impossible. But will he believe them? Sukumar Ray’s hilarious and iconic Bengali nonsense poem “Gonph Churi” appears in a brand new form in this translation with witty and comic illustrations by Pankaj Saikia that will delight, make children laugh, and make them wonder if anyone can indeed steal a moustache?
Ammama’s Sari, Niveditha Subramaniam
Ammama discovers a hole in her saree. So she gets down to some snipping and stitching. And the sari becomes a pretty curtain, a snug baby-sling, a perfect plaything for the cat . . .
Niveditha Subramaniam’s stunningly textured cloth collages weave through the pages of this wordless picture book with the touch and feel of the sari. To her, they evoke comfortable sensory memories of her own Ammama – the grandmother for whom upcycling was as natural as being in a sari. Ammama’s Sari teaches young readers the value of re- and upcycling and the value sensory memories.
Girls Want Azadi, Kamla Bhasin, illustrated by Shrujana Shridhar
Now girls also want azadi/freedom from violence and harassment, the freedom to choose, and to exercise their rights. And azadi to be who they want to be. Written by acclaimed feminist Kamla Bhasin, Girls Want Azadi is the perfect introduction of feminism and gender issues for very young readers.
Mini’s Money, Nandini Nayar
Five-year-old Mini is gifted some money on Dussehra. The money goes where Mini goes and Mini goes where the money goes as everyone wonders what Mini will spend it on. After some exciting adventures following her money, Mini knows how she is going to spend it. Her family is surprised when they see where Mini’s money is going and how she decides to spend it. Mini’s Money is a delightful way to teach young readers about the basics of expenses and savings.
For readers 6-9 years old
Dancing with the Birds, Bulbul Sharma
Haven’t you as a child wondered what it would be like to dance with birds? The grumbling little lorikeet, the owl who can move his head every way, the woodpecker with the rhythmic pecking, the quarrelsome crow and the fierce eagle?
Here’s a chance to dance away into the colourful and magical world of birds in this beautifully illustrated poetry book by artist and writer Bulbul Sharma.
The Magic Couch: Adventures with Thatha, Shilpa Rao, illustrated by Sahitya Rani
Thatha may look old, but once the magic couch starts flying, he is the best partner to have. Sitting on the couch, the little boy and his grandfather have all kinds of escapades that take them from the icy mountains of Ladakh to the sugarcane fields of Mandya, from a mission to explore Mars to diving deep into the waters of the Bay of Bengal. Along the way they meet all kinds of exciting creatures: leopards, clownfish, turtles, and so much more.
A celebration of the precious bond that children share with grandparents, The Magic Couch is the perfect book to encourage curious young minds to explore the world and all the adventures it offers.
Paati vs UNCLE (The Underground Nightly Cooperative League of Elders), Meera Ganapathi
All Inju wants is a quiet, boring holiday at the most boring house in Mumbai, but life at Parijat Retirement Colony is not the same any more. A thief is on the loose, and Paati has decided to become an UNCLE! But when the uncles of UNCLE (The Underground Nightly Cooperative League of Elders) act not so cooperative, Inju takes charge.
Joining forces with a lady whose papads were stolen, the skinny building watchman and Paati, Inju forms PAATI (The People’s Association against Thieves International). Can this motley crew of detectives crack the code?
The Story Quilt, Harshika Udaasi
Meet the ghost who longs to use a computer, the smart thief who is outsmarted by his travel companion, the girl who dreams of playing cricket, and even a runaway scooter.
The Story Quilt is a delightful collection of eight children’s stories and includes translations from Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Punjabi, and Sindhi. Adding to its charm are the beautiful illustrations that showcase the popular art style of each of these regions.
Grandfather’s Tiger Tales, Anjana Basu, illustrated by Aaryama Somayji
Dadubhai loves to tell stories about tigers and forests. After all, he has roamed around the forests of India for years. In Grandfather’s Tiger Tales, he relates some hair-raising stories about tigers – both real ones and those from myths and legends.
In one, a tiger decides to drop in as a guest during a cricket match, sending both the cricketers and the audience into panic. In another story, while a fearsome storm rages in the Sundarbans, a man and a tiger take refuge together in a little hut. He also narrates the legend of Bon Bibi, the saviour of the people of the Sundarbans and her battle with the fearsome tiger-adversary, Dakshin Ray.
Riveting and entertaining, these tales bring alive the tiger’s majesty and beauty, and teaching young readers the importance of respecting nature and all its creatures.
For readers 10-13 years old
When I Met the Mama Bear: A Forest Guard’s Story, Prerna Singh Bindra, illustrated by Maya Ramaswamy
It’s a tough call for Priya and her fellow forest guards, Ahmedji, Bhim, and Anil. They were trained not to interfere in the lives of the wild animals. But how can they just stand by and do nothing?
As they think of a plan that will work, Priya, a mother herself, thinks of her own little ‘cub’, her daughter Astha, who lives far away in the town with her grandmother. Priya is a single mother who lives in a lonely outpost in the forest so she can earn a living. Perhaps the Mama Bear too was ‘out at work’, foraging for food, when her cubs got into trouble.
Based on a real incident, this moving, dramatic story illuminates the hidden life of forest guards, the courageous and unsung women and men who work tirelessly to protect India’s forests and its wildlife.
The Ghost of Malabar, Soumya Ayer, illustrated by Isha Nagar
Twelve-year-old Edwin blames his father, a wayward fisherman for everything rotten in his life. But when he encounters Velu, his life is catapulted from rotten to outright chaotic. Velu is chatty. Velu is annoying. Velu is a ghost. The ghost of a fisherman who was slaughtered 500 hundred years ago by Kapitan Vasca da Gama.
Velu soon spirits himself into Edwin’s life – he follows him to school, accosts him at home, always appearing at the most unwelcome moments. Edwin tries everything to get rid of him, including rubbing garlic on himself. But Velu can’t be shaken off until the day Edwin banishes him from his life.
In the events that follow, Edwin discovers that Velu has actually helped heal his family in ways he had never imagined possible. But by this time, Velu is gone. Will Edwin find Velu again and will Velu finally find rest after 500 years of haunting the seaside town?
Bena’s Summer, Shibal Bhartiya
A faint noise reached the kitchen. The tenor and cadence so familiar, drifting from the streets not so far away. Women in the kitchen froze. Not one woman sobbed, not one child whimpered. This was a set of people that had seen and survived many riots before. Qasai Tola was now silent. And sitting within this circle of women, oblivious to all that was happening as the tiny town of Sultanpur burned, was Bena, biting happily into the honey-soaked goodness of a hazaar waraq ka paratha. It was difficult to imagine that it had been less than five minutes since the first incoherent chant. Now it was loud and clear, and very, very near. Perhaps at their doorstep, and reaching an aching crescendo.
Bena merrily joined in what seemed to her to be a joyful ditty about food. Eight-year-old Benazir, Bena to friends and family, is perhaps the happiest child you know, fond of jalebis, limericks, and raw mangoes. She is surrounded by friends and family, and her life is everything an idyllic childhood should be: protected, loved, and everything wonderful. One summer that bubble bursts when Bena is witness to riots, death, destruction, and abuse, in a setting that explains little, and expects children to forget it all. But Bena, defined by her grit and audacity, is different.
Earthquake Boy, Leela Gour Broome
January 2001: A 12-year-old boy is found under a pile of rubble after the devastating earthquake in Bhuj. Miraculously, he’s still alive. But he doesn’t remember anything – not even his name. Binna – the boy with no name – is slowly recuperating in a hospital, when he overhears he’s going to be transferred to an orphanage. Terrified at the thought, Binna runs away to Mumbai, becoming one of the many homeless children in the city.
Living in a rest room in Charni Road station, Binna soon finds work in a nearby Udupi restaurant and develops a bond with his fellow workers. But after two terrifying encounters with a local criminal and his gang of thieves and beggars, he is eventually taken in by an NGO that cares for young runaways. Here, he forms deep friendships and grapples with memories from his past – a Ganesha idol, the smell of incense, and the familiar lilt of Marathi. Will Binna ever find his way back to his family? Earthquake Boy brings to life the reality of abandoned and orphaned children living on their own in the big cities of India.
The Room on the Roof, Ruskin Bond
Rusty, a 16-year-old Anglo-Indian boy, is orphaned and has to live with his English guardian in the claustrophobic European part of Dehra Dun. Unhappy with the strict ways of his guardian, Rusty runs away from home to live with his Indian friends. Plunging for the first time into the dream-bright world of the bazaar, Hindu festivals, and other aspects of Indian life, Rusty is enchanted...and is lost forever to the prim proprieties of the European community.
Written when the author was himself seventeen, this classic story celebrates the love and friendship that we develop in our childhoods and sustain for the rest of our lives.
For readers 14-18 years old
The Secret Life of Debbie G, Vibha Batra and Kalyani Ganapathy
“It all started cos I wanted to mess with the Invincibles (the superbrats). #SorryNotSorry. But one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was hitting out at everyone, even the Incredibles (the geeks) and the Invisibles (the losers). Seriously, my online persona is starting to mess with my head.”
The Secret Life of Debbie G is the story of a 16-year-old who becomes an online sensation overnight. Except, it’s her online persona that hits big time. Set in today’s time, where the number of likes, comments, shares, DMs, and followers determine a teenager’s sense of self-worth, the story takes a close look at how social media influences their behaviour and affects their emotional health. Equal parts poignant and fun, this is a bittersweet coming-of-age story.
Saira Zariwala is Afraid, Shabnam Minwalla
Saira is thrilled about getting her own phone. What she’s not so thrilled about is that most of the messages that arrive on it are for somebody called Akaash. As the messages get stranger, Saira’s irritation gives way to curiosity. Who is Akaash? How has he disappeared so entirely that even his friends and family don’t know where he is? Is he connected with the horrors that the police have unearthed in a fancy Mumbai building?
Saira and her friends decide to play detective. But the light-hearted adventure soon turns dark and sinister. Someone is watching their every move. Someone thinks Saira knows much more than she does. Someone has killed once and is willing to kill again. Curiosity killed the cat. Will it kill Saira?
The Village by the Sea, Anita Desai
With their mother ill and their father permanently drunk, Hari and Lila have to earn the money to keep house and look after their two young sisters. In desperation, Hari runs away to Bombay, and Lila is left to cope alone.
Untouched by the 20th century, Thul, the small fishing village near Bombay, is still ruled by the age-old seasonal rhythms. Hari and Lila have lived in the village all their lives, but their family is now desperately down on its luck. Their father drinks; their mother is seriously ill; and there is no money to keep them fed and clothed. This coming-of-age story of Hari and Lila merges with the first signs of industrial India creeping into their village.