Sharpen your pencils

It’s that time again! As the start of a new school year creeps up on us, we’ve picked out just a few books that are in store at the moment, which are great for broaching the subject of starting school.IMG_9393

Pranav’s First Day at School  

Nandini Nayar & Dileep Chinchalker (Eklavya, Rs 25)

A simple story about what is possibly the trickiest part of starting school – getting past the front gate, alone, and leaving your parents behind! Pranav has been told all about school, so he is not going to cry … but what about all the other children he meets? Chinchalker’s sensitive pencil sketches are perfect for conveying Pranav’s emotions, and there is much to pore over in the illustrations.

Starting School

Janet & Allen Ahlberg (Puffin, Rs 299)

This one takes us through not just the first day of school, but the first term! It’s based on a British school, but much of what happens has universal relevance. Somehow doing something is always easier if you’ve talked about it – or at least thought about it – first, so there is much reassurance to be gleaned from this run-through of school rituals, with illustrations that will make you nostalgic for your childhood.

While I’m Away

Christy Olson Kennedy & Prashant Miranda (Little Latitude, Rs 375)

In perfectly scanning verse, this is an upbeat yet realistic portrayal of a first day at school – from hopping onto the bus, to making new friends and eating lunch. Part of Little Latitude’s ‘Anahi and Vir’ series of books, this also touches upon sibling relationships – lightly portraying both how a ‘big sister’ might feel as the first in the family to go off to school, as well as how the ‘little brother’ feels about remaining at home alone.

Rani’s First Day at School

Cheryl Rao & Mayur Mistry (Rs 30, or free to download on Storyweaver)

Have we ever mentioned what a fantastic concept Pratham Books’ Storyweaver is? An open source platform, it’s part of Pratham Books’ mission to get a book into every child’s hand, and allows you to read and download content, or even create your own stories. This short tale focuses on the school gate ritual, showing how Rani finds the courage to leave her mother behind, safe in the knowledge that she will see her again at the end of the day! We have physical copies of this little book in Kannada and Hindi. Download the story here

Books for Boredom?


It’s around half way through the summer holidays, and we’ve been getting more and more parents asking us for books that will help keep their children entertained. Activity books are becoming increasingly sophisticated and well-thought out, so we’re sharing a few of our current favourites. With these, you can stay busy by doing anything from colouring and making toys from trash, gazing at the stars to creating your own monsters.


8 Ways to Draw Fish (Tara Books, Rs 200)

The second in Tara’s 8 Ways to Draw …. series is just as wonderful as the first, 8 Ways to Draw an Elephant. Looking at the ways in which artists from different Indian tribal and folk art traditions render fish enables the book to explain to children what art – in the broadest sense – actually is. Gorgeous end paper is an added bonus.


Sticker book and Draw It! series (Bloomsbury, Rs 199 upwards)

The Draw It! series encourages and enables young artists to try their hand at all sorts of things – from sketching dinosaurs, to London monuments. And the Bloomsbury sticker books are excellent too: infinitely affordable, and with themes that range from baby animals and sea creatures to princesses and dinosaurs.


AHA! Activities by Arvind Gupta (Eklavya, Rs 135)

We recently held a workshop based on Arvind Gupta’s ideas, so we can safely say that his toys made primarily from trash are fantastic. Using readily available materials, you can create some really exciting things, while (sneakily) learning some scientific concepts along the way.


Build Your Own Dinosaurs (Scholastic, Rs 175)

Dinosaur stories are always immensely popular, but this book takes things a step further – with the chance to actually make your own! What’s lovely is that you can not only cut out, fold and assemble these 3D creatures, but also create their habitats, and place them there.


Escape to Wonderland (Penguin, Rs 299)

A raft of great colouring books arrived at the store recently, but this remains our favourite. Venture into Wonderland, with gorgeous illustrations to colour, interspersed with quotes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Intricate enough for older children to get stuck into. And we’ve seen quite a few adults buy this for themselves, too!


Monster Garden (Duckbill, Rs 150)

One of Duckbill’s latest offerings is this wacky monster-filled adventure, where you will encounter creatures as deliciously horrid sounding as a Scrumpeelious. What would such a creature look like? Well, that’s up to you, as there are gaps throughout to fill in. Plus a full-colour pull-out monster poster!


Animalium Activity Book (Big Picture Press, Rs 671)

There’s no two ways about it – Big Picture Press’s gorgeously illustrated and produced books are in a league of their own. Animalium and Maps are bestsellers at the store, and this companion book takes you on a whirlwind tour of the animal kingdom – with things to ponder upon, sketch or decipher at every turn.


Around the World in 80 Puzzles (Scholastic, Rs 275)

Richly illustrated and jam-packed with things to do, Around the World in 80 Puzzles will keep children occupied for hours. And it’s great way to introduce children to far flung places without actually travelling! Activities like deciphering hieroglyphs, working out the height of Mount Rushmore or discovering which museum houses the Mona Lisa were some of our favourites.


The Great India Activity Book (Scholastic, Rs 195)

Priya Kuriyan’s illustrations can light up any book, but it’s fun to see her take sole authorship here. The book promises puzzles to crack, mazes to solve and pages to colour – all with a distinctive Indian flavour. So you’ll find yourself spotting the odd Bombay cab out, decorating a hand with a mehendi design or working out what doesn’t belong at the fish market.


Mega Mash Up series (Nosy Crow, Rs 350)

This series from British indie publisher Nosy Crow is absurdly wonderful. What do you get when Romans meet Dinosaurs on Mars? Or when Pirates meet Ancient Egyptians in a Haunted Museum? Fun, fun, fun, that’s what! There’s a story running through each book, as well as spaces which invite the reader to use their imaginations and make their own contributions.


Find the Constellations (Macmillan, Rs 499)

There are not too many books published in the 1950s which are still going strong today, but this is certainly a classic. The new edition contains updates (even the locations of the planets throughout 2016) but has all of the original charm, and is written by the same author who gave us the Curious George series. A perfect guide to star gazing, with diagrams and factoids on every page.  


The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes (Scholastic, Rs 1,120)

Who knew that there was so much to know about making paper airplanes? This is an easy-to-use (and great to gift) spiral bound volume, with instructions for making no fewer than ten distinctive planes from paper. The expected flight speed/time and ease of making is mentioned, so you can challenge yourself accordingly! The steps are simple to follow, and interspersed with bite-sized portions of science.