Top six books of new Indian fiction for children

May 13, 2018, 10:16 IST | Jane Borges

From mythology to grandma tales, here are our top six picks of new Indian fiction for children

Cousins Ayush, Aryan and Arjun Asher enjoy some quiet book reading time with their friend Rudra Shukla at their Worli residence.  Pic/Ashish Raje
Cousins Ayush, Aryan and Arjun Asher enjoy some quiet book reading time with their friend Rudra Shukla at their Worli residence. Pic/Ashish Raje

Of gods and humans

Author Arshia Sattar is no stranger to mythological retellings. Best known for her English translation of Valmiki's Ramayana, Sattar recently released a new children's collection titled Garuda and the Serpents (Juggernaut Books), which draws from the Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana to deliver stories that will evoke both wonder and delight. From tales of why the gods and the asuras churned the ocean, to how Vishwamitra and Vasishtha became enemies for life, these marvellous adventures of gods and humans is not to be given a miss. And, with Sattar, who has a PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago, helming the narrative, these stories, we know, rest in safe hands.

Garuda and the Serpents by Arshia Sattar
Age Group: 10+
Price: Rs 350

A rare friendship

The recently-released graphic novel, Indira (Context, Westland), definitely has a special place in history. The young adult novel, which has been brilliantly executed by writer Devapriya Roy and animation filmmaker and illustrator Priya Kuriyan, begins with the story of Indira Thapa, a Std VI student at a government school, who is given an assignment to write an essay around her namesake. Over the course of a long, hot summer and a curious friendship with an artist who is working on a biography of Gandhi, Thapa gets tangled up in the life and times of the country's only female prime minister Indira Gandhi. Through graphic panels and beautiful prose, Roy and Kuriyan lead us through Gandhi's rich legacy, including her rise during the Bangladesh War (1971) and fall, post the Emergency (1975-77). This one is for teenagers who'd like to revisit history differently.

Indira by Devapriya Roy and Priya Kuriyan
Age Group: 13+
Price: Rs 599

Magic on wheels

Lavanya Karthik's Neel on Wheels (Duckbill) is what we think, should be on every kid's must-read list. The book, illustrated by Habib Al, tells the story of Neel, who is wheelchair bound. But, that's hardly holding him back. Neel's wheelchair transforms itself to fight dragons and monsters and chase away scary creatures of the night. One of the prize winners in the Children First contest — started to create more books featuring children with disabilities as protagonists — this book deals sensitively with his challenges and the lovely relationship between Neel and his younger brother, who regards him with awe and respect.

Neel on Wheels by Lavanya Karthik and Habib Al
Age Group: 5+
Price: Rs 299

Family matters

Sharanya Manivannan's poetry is a sheer delight to read. With The Ammuchi Puchi (Puffin Books), the poet and writer has collaborated with illustrator Nerina Canzi to tell the story of Aditya and Anjali, who love listening to their grandmother's stories. Unfortunately, their lives fall apart on the night their grandmother passes away. Suddenly, her stories seem to lose their meaning. It's only when something magical happens that they feel their grandma is with them, after all. The dreamy illustrations complement the poetic prose, for a poignant story.

The Ammuchi Puchi by Sharanya Manivannan and Nerina Canzi
Age Group: 4-7
Price: Rs 199

Grandma knows best

No summer reading is complete without escaping into the stories by author Ruskin Bond. In his new book, Memories of Hills and Dales (Rupa), Bond's protagonist is an affectionate, brimming-with-stories grandmother, who shares tales of the past with her granddaughter Koki. From a mysterious kiss by a stranger in the dark to schoolboys taking off for a trek to a glacier, an old kite-maker reminiscing about his heydays and a beautiful village girl whose charms a city boy can't resist, this slice-of-life collection — many of which are autobiographical — takes us through the life in the hills and the joys, sorrows and excitement it holds.

Memories of Hills and Dales by Ruskin Bond
Age Group: 8+
Price: Rs 195

Suitcase memories

Nidhi Chanani's heart-warming debut graphic novel, Pashmina (HarperCollins India) weaves a tale about the hardship and self-discovery that is born from juggling two cultures. The story revolves around Priyanka Das, who has many unanswered questions — why did her mother abandon her home in India? What was it like there? And, most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? Pri's mom avoids all these questions. For Pri, her homeland only exists in her imagination, until she finds a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a fantasy world more vivid and colourful than anything she could have ever imagined. But to know whether this world is for real, she needs to travel further. For young readers, Chanani creates a world that magical through her prose and illustrations.

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Age Group: 8+
Price: Rs 399

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