Bijoy and the Big River

I think most of you know that I contribute (albeit erratically) to the Saffron Tree blog. It’s a privilege to be part of a group that loves children’s literature so much. And founder Praba and ex-contributor Meera have a new book! Yes, it’s called Bijoy and the Big River. I love the way Praba and Meera take children on a trip, exploring unusual parts of the country and educating them about wildlife. I can’t wait to get my own copy!

But for now, I have a guest reviewer on my blog. And it is, my dear friend Lavanya’s son, Pratik. After all, who better to review a children’s book, than a child himself?


This book is about a young boy named Bijoy. He is a very adventurous and curious boy. He likes to swim and draw on wet mud. He once saw a rare animal called Xihu or Gangetic River Dolphin. His father or Deuta said he was very lucky.Deuta raises Eri or castor silkworms while Bijoy’s mom spins yarn from the cocoons.
One day, Deuta and Bijoy decide to explore the Brahmaputra. They canoe to Guwahati, before going on a steam boat. They see the wildlife near the Kaziranga National Park. They see a yarn house and the beautiful designs all around them.
They set off home only to come across some Xihus. Bijoy gets very excited and enjoys seeing the Xihus play. Soon, Bijoy and Deuta reach home.
Bijoy and The Big River is a very interesting book, filled with lots of facts on each page about the life in Assam. The accompanying photographs are very good! I give this book 4.5 stars.
Pratik enjoying Bijoy and the Big River
The book has been reviewed by a few others too.

All about books and CROCUS 2012

I’m late, I’m late, cried the White Hare. And so am I. Late for what? For my CROCUS 2012 announcement post of course!

After a lifetime of being scared of math and science I broke free a couple of years ago. I’m free and I now believe I can fly. 🙂 Getting to the point, this year we’re focusing on Math and Eco-Science. To my surprise I had loads of books I could have reviewed and actually had to struggle to keep it down to two. So go ahead, and knock yourselves out. Enjoy!

Once you’re done enjoying the reviews, here’s a request. Can you support this collaboration with Kranti that we at Saffrontree are working on? Kranti helps trafficked women and sex workers get back on track. All we want is for you to donate some books to them. Think you can do that? Please do – there is nothing better than sharing the joy of reading.

And finally, our very own Art’s book Have you seen this? Quirky, funny, easy to read and most importantly, in Hindi as well as English, we love it at the mad house and are sure you will too. Go buy your copy today!

Friend of Tibet

Sowmya Rajendran’s The Snow King’s Daughter is a favourite with both my kids.  Those of you who haven’t read the book can read the review on Saffron Tree (linked in the first line) and see if you’d like a copy.

We read it often and we’ve marked Tibet out on the huge map in the nursery and we often talk occupation and refugees and what not. Not in a political way, but in a simple easy-for-a-four-year-old to understand way.

A few days ago the Bean was at the dining table eating her dinner when she looked up and said, “We really need to tell the Chinese to stop being mean. They have to free Corbett.”

And then she was most annoyed when the OA and I fell off our chairs laughing at her. The OA wanted to correct her but I kicked him under the table so he shut up albeit unhappily. I just wanted to enjoy her babyness for a while more. She later remembered that it was Tibet and has corrected herself.

I’d put up the blooper on Facebook and a friend asked me how she’d heard of the Tibet issue and why such a young child knew anything about it at all. I think you’d need to read the book to realise that there are simple ways to talk to our kids about racism, injustice and other sensitive topics.

As for her age, I often wonder why we talk to kids about religion, God, teach them prayers and what not, when they’re too young to truly understand and make choices. After all most of us continue to practice the religion we were brought up in, justifying its failings and accepting every word of it as true, simply because it was fed to us so young. And it’s perhaps one of the most contentious and complex issues on earth, with saints and learned people struggling to put their thoughts in order. And yet we don’t think twice before feeding it to our kids.

Since I’m rather clearly not getting on to the religion train with both feet, I’d rather give them other things to believe in. I’d imagine its a lot easier to read up on environment, science, history and politics and find your beliefs. Things that to my mind are indisputable and leave no scope for confusion or double talk. It’s why they go to bed after ensuring that the taps are not leaking and lights are off, more religiously than bed time prayers.

It’s also why we marched around the dining table after we’d found Tibet on the map, all three of us shouting, ‘Free Tibet’. And I know I’d rather they believe in this and hopefully someday do something real for the cause than have any other beliefs that justify the bringing down of a mosque, the killing of a missionary and his young children, the defiling of a temple or the chopping of a tree.

Before we had the kids people often asked us what beliefs we’d bring them up with. I guess I have an answer now.

By the by, I am madly tripping on this song, this week.