Wednesday 9 May 2012

Countdown to the summer break

The countdown to the annual summer jaunt, Chennai-side, has begun. The children are terribly excited - 4 weeks of being spoilt silly, and no mother to monitor sweet/chocolate consumption, TV-watching, hand-washing, nose-picking and dental hygiene! I am going to be around in Chennai as well, but I will be working, and whatever free time I get I'd rather hang out with the few friends I still have in that city :)
This year, we are experimenting with leaving the kids behind in Chennai for just over a week (with my parents), while I fly back to Delhi just in time for my wedding anniversary. I don't know how they will fare without me (rather well, I suspect!) and how I will manage without them (I assume I will run the gamut of emotions from happy/footloose, to bored, to terribly unhappy without my little monsters!).
The first thing Ads asks me every morning is "How many more days to go to Chennai?"
I say "14" or whatever the number is.
Ads will then ask "And how many school days?" :)
We got lucky with the weather in April - it stayed cool for the most part and we had a lot of thunderstorms. May has been more like summer - baking and HOT HOT HOT. I know summer is finally here when I have to skulk in the shade while waiting to pick up the kids from the bus-stop, when the heat presses down on me from down and above and sideways until I go light-headed with the pressure.
Here we come - from the fire into the frying pan (Delhi is way hotter than Chennai!)

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Reviews of two Tulika books

I picked up a bunch of books from Tulika lately, based on what I thought Ads would like, and what he should be liking (yes, quite the Nazi mom here!!).
The first one was a book on Indian Dinosaurs (I didn't know we used to have any!) called Stone Eggs - The story of Indian Dinosaurs by Helen Rundgren. I was sure Ads would love this one, being nuts about all things animal these days. He has quite made up his mind to be a zoologist! Yesterday he was quite worried whether he could be a zoologist as well as a paleontologist :) The story, for story it is, is about a brother-sister duo who accidentally discover a bunch of sauropod eggs while vacationing in their grandma's village. They meet a palaeontologist who is excited with their find and through him, they learn about the different species of dinosaurs who existed in the Indian landmass millions of years ago. The book is lucid with and easy-to-read text for a 6 yo, and cute and colourful illustrations. A good starting point for beginner dino-lovers and yet engaging enough for more knowledgeable kids.
The second book I picked up was Barefoot Husain by Anjali Raghbeer. Now I do want my scientist to also have an artistic sensibility :) Tulika has a series of books on art and artists - Jamini Roy, Amrita Shergill, Ravi Verma are some of the others. Having taken Ads to the NGMA and some art shows, the names are not wholly alien to him and I started with Husain because he was particularly interested in his work when we visited the India Art Fair in January. Specifically he thought the horses looked very majestic and he thought Husain must not have been great at drawing expressions on faces and that's why his faces were blank :)
This book goes into flashback mode on Husain's early years, interspersed with his famous paintings. There's a fair back of flitting back and forth in time and the whole narrative happens in the imagination of a little boy who has been taken on a field trip to the Modern Art Museum. I think some of that was fairly confusing for Ads, but on future readings, perhaps I'll focus more on the art and less on the narrative. I'm looking forward to picking up more books on the series.

The third and final book is The Snow King's Daughter by Sowmya Rajendran. We haven't yet found the time to read it but it seems like a good opening to discuss a rather sensitive and weighty topic, so I am looking forward to Ads' take on the book. He gets somewhat hamstrung by his sister, who insists on sitting with us when we read and offering her valuable comments :) Case in point: We were reading Hanuman's Ramayan (another great book and the first one I read by Devdutt Patnaik) and discussing it when Y piped in: But tomato-kku enna aachu (What happened to the tomato?)
Me and Ads: Huh? Tomato-aa? What? Which tomato?
Y: Adhu-la tomato irundhudhey!
Ads (in disgust): There's no tomato in the story, Kondila! (The last word is what he calls her when he wants to annoy her, no one knows what it means but it makes her see red!)
Y: Waaaaaa....!!! (effectively ending the reading session, which I am sure was her intention all along!!)
I'm not sure how often I will post kiddie book reviews here, but I will try and post whenever we read something that is exceptional or different. Since we read a lot, hopefully that should not be too difficult!