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The Internet’s Effect on Deep Thinking: Insights from iParent

Parenting in today’s digital age is undeniably challenging. With technology, the internet, and social media dominating our lives, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of notifications and updates. So how do we guide our children through the digital world’s maze without a map? Neha J Hiranandani‘s iParent is a friendly companion for parents navigating the complexities of raising kids in a digital age. Packed with practical advice and a dash of humor, it’s the go-to resource for fostering cyber-savvy kids without the stress.

Read this exclusive excerpt to know more!

iParent
iParent || Neha J Hiranandani

***

I remember reading about the Flynn effect in college. Buried neck-deep in books and classes, it was heartening to read that improved access to nutrition and better schools had made humans smarter in the twentieth century. Perfect grades seemed more achievable—after all, we had all become collectively smarter! That buoyancy, however, lasted just a few short decades. As things stand, the world is experiencing a reversal of the Flynn effect, and global IQ scores have dropped precipitously by six points. The truth is, we’re all turning a bit doltish. As one expert puts it, ‘People are getting dumber. That’s not a judgment; it’s a global fact.’

 

Most of us experience this doltishness every day. It’s getting harder to remember the names of colleagues, words stay permanently suspended on the tips of our tongues, and really, who can remember anyone’s birthday anymore? The Internet has fundamentally altered the way we process information, and as a result, we’re all struggling to focus. Every time we go online, our brains get subtly rewired. And since we are online so much, our brains are constantly adapting to accommodate the Internet’s deluge of small, shallow fragments of information.

 

Nicholas Carr, one of the most influential thinkers of our times, Is the author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which went on to become a Pulitzer Prize finalist. ‘I’m not thinking the way I used to think,’ says Carr. The Internet, he says, ‘is chipping away [the] capacity for concentration and contemplation.’ Online activity, especially when we’re restlessly ping ponging from one activity to another makes us lose focus. Jumping from text to email, opening one tab and then quickly clicking on another, switching frantically back and forth between news and notifications—all of this destroys the calm brain and creates a new kind of mind, one that becomes comfortable processing information in quick, fragmented bursts. The faster, the better.

 

As Carr’s book title implies, over time our brains lose the ability to go deep. We start living in the shallows. ‘Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now, I zip along the surface like a guy on a jetski,’ he says. Admittedly, living life on a jetski sounds like great fun but you are likely to encounter a few problems. With all that wind in your hair, salt in your eyes and the world whizzing by, it’s difficult to make thoughtful decisions. It’s tough to stop and deeply appreciate beauty on a jetski or to meaningfully engage with an intractable problem. Given that our circuitry is so malleable, the more we stay online, the more we train our brains to be distracted. We can rapidly process snippets of information, but sustained attention becomes massively challenging. The longer we are on the jetski, the more challenging it is to get off it.

 

It’s not just Carr; scores of experts agree that the human brain simply wasn’t built for the endless game of ping-pong tantalizingly offered by our phones. The consequences seem especially disturbing for iGen which is growing up with easy and immediate access to information which ultimately has an effect on how the kids function, both emotionally and otherwise. Experts suggest that this generation will have ‘a thirst for instant gratification and quick fixes, a loss of patience and a lack of deep-thinking ability.’ Screenagers’ are not the only ones affected. Nine and ten-year-olds indulging in over two hours of screen time per day scored lower on thinking and language tests. Some kids saw a premature thinning of the cerebral cortex as they spent time on screens—their grey matter was disappearing.

 

Disappearing grey matter or not, it’s hard to stop! Regardless of which generation we belong to, none of us can stop pinging. Every notification, every distraction is a little dopamine nugget in disguise and it’s challenging to focus on something when you’re used to getting a reward hit every few seconds. Drunk on dopamine, we start liking the distractions. We seek them out. The more we seek them, the more we click and the more we click— bullseye!—the more accurately the algorithm can place irresistible links directly in our fields of vision. Think about the last time that you went to a shopping mall. You likely had a salesperson come up and ask you to try a product. It’s usually not a big deal because you’re likely to only encounter a couple of pushy salespeople per mall visit. But when you’re online, the push and pulls come at you from all directions!

 

‘Have you tried this new recipe?’ Potatoes, green onions and a touch of mustard.’

‘Are you looking to lose ten kilos in twenty days?’

‘Have you checked out the season’s hottest filter?’

‘Become a millionaire overnight. Join our mailing list for just Rs 199’

‘Join our community to always feel happy.’

‘Free shipping on this summer’s hottest perfume that will make you smell like Italian lemons.’

‘Are you bored? Lonely? Depressed?’ Here are fourteen essential oils that you need right now.’

‘Looking for love? There’s a big surprise waiting for you.’

‘Get discounted Diwali hampers when you order in March.’

 

The sales push doesn’t end because whether it’s essential oils or real estate, the algorithm knows what we want better than anyone else. So, we click on these irresistible links, breaking our attention, disrupting our concentration and creating an avalanche of lost focus, which in turn, overtaxes our brains. And wouldn’t you know it, an overtaxed brain finds distractions more distracting, and there it is: a self-perpetuating dependence loop. We click and lose focus, which makes us want to click all the more. Clickety-click we go all day, tappity tap we go all night, leaking data and losing focus all the while.

***

Get your copy of iParent by Neha J Hiranandani wherever books are sold.

Am I Doing This Right? Insights from Priyanka Chopra’s Mom in ‘The Parents I Met’

Ever wondered, “Am I getting this parenting gig right?” In Mansi Zaveri’s The Parents I Met, take a stroll through chats with successful parents, picking up timeless tips for navigating the tricky path of raising kids. This book is like a friendly guide, saying, “Hey, in the middle of life’s chaos, what matters most is your love and commitment to your kids.” It’s an easy read, full of stories and advice that any parent can relate to, giving you a bit of comfort and a lot of insights along the way.

 

The Parents I Met
The Parents I Met || Mansi Zaveri

 

***

Initially, I had arranged to speak with Dr Madhu Chopra via Zoom, but after our conversation, I knew I had to meet her in person. She never made her career, marriage or the proper upbringing of her children a lower priority simply because she became a mother.  

 

Despite her initial doubts about whether her parenting practices from nearly three decades ago would still be relevant, she welcomed me with open arms and was happy to talk. Friendly as always, she paused to ask her assistant Zarin for a green tea in Gujarati, all the while considering which chai flavour would best prepare her for this exchange. She then took a sip and said,

 

‘Mansi, what was important is that I didn’t back down—that gave me immense confidence. That confidence emanates power and brings me respect from my kids even to this day. If they respect you, it becomes easy.’  

 

She has fond memories of working night shifts at the army hospital, which were always a family affair because she had to bring her two children along, Priyanka and her brother Siddharth. ‘I turned it into a game by telling Priyanka, “Mom’s on night duty, baby’s on night duty,” as she carried her toy backpack and squealed with excitement. I didn’t fall into the trap of feeling guilty because my work gave me immense joy. The guilt crept in only once when she talked back to my father and that made me wonder, “Is it because I am working?” Even the fancy well-planned tiffins of other kids who had stay-at-home moms couldn’t make me feel guilty as I sent the same tiffins every day, like a paratha roll or jam sandwich. I taught her to not compare these tiffins or feel deprived. Parenting is not a day’s job. It starts the day your baby is conceived and continues forever.’ 

 

I asked her if Priyanka had ever asked, ‘Why can’t you sit at home or why do you need to work?’ and she said, ‘No. She didn’t know any other way and took this as normal.’ Family was a huge support, with both sets of parents and relatives chipping in at every stage.  

 

Dr Chopra continued, ‘Both kids used to tag along. If mom had night duty, baby had night duty. She would pack her little bag to carry to the hospital because she knew she had to keep herself busy while I was away on duty. You see, we didn’t give them choices that didn’t exist.’ 

 

Dr Chopra then unapologetically admitted, ‘I am a great parent.’ To see a parent be so self-assured was refreshing. Especially when parents today second guess most of their decisions.  

 

When Priyanka was preparing for Miss India, her entire family pooled their resources to buy her new footwear, wardrobe and cosmetics. No one ever questioned who she was or why she would want to compete in a Miss India pageant. Some parents hope their children will follow in their footsteps and go into business with them or pursue a similar line of work, but Priyanka knew at the tender age of three that she did not want to become a doctor because she did not like the smell of hospitals and did not want to leave her child at home.’  

 

She added, ‘When your path is different from your kids, there is no tantrum and shouting but there is a conversation. You convince me or I convince you.’ The one time that we did push our wishes on a child who was a topper in her academics and extracurriculars, was when we asked her to sing and dance both. When her grades dipped, I backed off, but being a committed, competitive learner, she persevered. Her habit of seeking perfection in everything that she did was most evident when she helped her younger brother Siddharth learn his speech on Chacha Nehru. She corrected his work and sat all night rehearsing with him till he didn’t even miss a single word. 

 

She continued, ‘I think this is the temperament that has got her here and is keeping her here. Ours was a democratic house, and questions and curiosity were rewarded promptly. When Priyanka was in kindergarten and questioned why her name was missing from the name plate outside her house, her father, Dr Ashok Chopra, got it changed the next day and added “Priyanka Chopra-UKG”.’ 

 

Dr Chopra went on to say, ‘Dinner table conversations were animated ones, where you could pour your heart out and no one would be judged. No one raised their voices or banged plates—it was not allowed in my household. Our kids never saw us yell, fight or be violent—it started and ended in the bedroom, but even that was a discussion.’  

 

‘I was heartbroken when I sent her to boarding school at seven years old after she had talked back to my dad,’ she confessed, ‘but the end result of that decision was a polished, responsible pre-teen who could even parent me. She became so disciplined, much better than I could have ever done. Each leap of faith was made with my family as a safety net.’  

 

When I asked her if she had had any indication that Priyanka was exceptional before she turned eighteen, she said, ‘I knew my child was focused and never frivolous. She would make the most of every opportunity that was presented to her. You cannot be a great parent if you don’t have a receptive child.’ 

 

When I asked her how she managed to instil such a sense of hunger and determination in her children despite their privileged upbringing, she told me that teaching them to say ‘no’ was crucial, as was making them work for what they want.  

 

She said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be that “bad parent”. The word “no” carried great weight in the Chopra household. One parent’s “no” would never be followed by a “yes” from the other. Their “whys”, however, were never shunned but addressed with discussions and explanations of the consequences early on. My children knew from day one that their every action had a consequence and that would be theirs alone.’  

***

Intrigued to know more?

Get your copy of The Parents I Met by Mansi Zaveri wherever books are sold.

‘Bond’ with Nature: All-Time Favourite Nature Stories

Dive into the enchanting world of Ruskin Bond, one of India’s most beloved authors, as he takes us on a literary journey through his latest book, All-Time Favourite Nature Stories. With tales that touch the heart and soul, Bond reminds us of the importance of connecting with nature and finding comfort in its earthy embrace. Whether you are a long-time admirer of Bond’s work or have just been introduced to his artistry, let these stories whisk you away into the nostalgia and timeless beauty that surrounds us all.

Read this excerpt from the All-Time Favourite Nature Stories to catch a glimpse.

All-Time Favourite Nature Stories
All-Time Favourite Nature Stories || Ruskin Bond

***

The Window

I came in the spring and took the room on the roof. It was a long, low building which housed several families; the roof was flat, except for my room and a chimney. I don’t know whose room owned the chimney, but my room owned the roof. And from the window of my room, I owned the world.

But only from the window.

The Window

The banyan tree, just opposite, was mine, and its inhabitants were my subjects. They were two squirrels, a few mynah, a crow and at night, a pair of flying foxes. The squirrels were busy in the afternoons, the birds in the mornings and evenings, and the foxes at night. I wasn’t very busy that year—not as busy as the inhabitants of the banyan tree.

 

There was also a mango tree, but that came later, in the summer, when I met Koki and the mangoes were ripe.

 

At first, I was lonely in my room. But then I discovered the power of my window. I looked out on the banyan tree, on the garden, on the broad path that ran beside the building, and out over the roofs of other houses, over roads and fields, as far as the horizon. The path was not particularly busy, but it was full of variety—an ayah pushing a baby in a pram; the postman, an event in himself; the fruit and toy sellers, calling their wares in high-pitched familiar cries; the rent collector; a posse of cyclists; a long chain of schoolgirls; a lame beggar . . . all passed my way, the way of my window.

 

In the early summer, a tonga came rattling and jingling down the path and stopped in front of the house. A girl and an elderly lady climbed down, and a servant unloaded their baggage. They went into the house and the tonga moved off, the horse snorting a little.

 

The next morning, the girl looked up from the garden and saw me at my window.

 

She had long, black hair that fell to her waist, tied with a single red ribbon. Her eyes were black like her hair and just as shiny. She must have been about ten or eleven years old.

 

‘Hello,’ I said with a friendly smile.

 

She looked suspiciously at me. ‘Who are you?’ she said.

 

‘I’m a ghost.’

 

She laughed, and her laugh had a gay, mocking quality. ‘You look like one!’

 

I didn’t think her remark was particularly flattering, but I had asked for it. I stopped smiling anyway. Most children don’t like adults smiling at them all the time.

 

‘What have you got up there?’ she asked. ‘Magic,’ I said.

 

She laughed again, but this time without mockery.

 

‘I don’t believe you,’ she said.

 

‘Why don’t you come up and see for yourself?’ She hesitated a little but came around to the steps and began climbing them, slowly and cautiously. And when she entered the room, she brought a magic of her own.

 

‘Where’s your magic?’ she asked, looking me in the eye.

 

‘Come here,’ I said, and I took her to the window and showed her the world.

 

She said nothing but stared out of the window, first uncomprehendingly and then with increasing interest. And after some time, she turned around and smiled at me, and we became friends.

 

I only knew her name was Koki and that she had come to the hills with her aunt for the summer; I didn’t need to know anything else about her, and she didn’t need to know anything about me except that I wasn’t really a ghost—at least not the frightening kind. She came up my steps nearly every day and joined me at the window. There was a lot of excitement to be had in our world, especially when the rains broke.

 

At the first rumblings, women would rush outside to retrieve the washing from the clothes line and if there was a breeze, to chase a few garments across the compound. When the rains came, they came with a vengeance, making a bog of the garden and a river of the path. A cyclist would come riding furiously down the path, an elderly gentleman would be having difficulty with an umbrella and naked children would be frisking about in the rain. Sometimes Koki would run out to the roof and shout and dance in the rain.

 

And the rain would come through the open door and window of the room, flooding the floor and making an island of the bed.

 

But the window was more fun than anything else. It gave us the power of detachment: we were deeply interested in the life around us, but not involved in it.

 

‘It is like a cinema,’ said Koki. ‘The window is the screen and the world is the picture.’

***

Get your copy of Ruskin Bond’s All-Time Favourite Nature Stories from Amazon now.

‘Tis the season to be jolly: Our top picks for December are here!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and as your little ones celebrate this festive season, make the most of their time at home with our exclusive selection for December. Winter is all about spreading warmth and joy, and with our exclusive section of books for your bundles of joy, we are celebrating the essence of this season. From wholesome books such as You Are Simply Perfect that will help young teens and tweens to navigate through this tumultuous time, to inspiring reads such as Malhar in the Middle, we have the best December treats for your holiday heart!

Ages 12+

You Are Simply Perfect

Front Cover: You Are Simply Perfect
You Are Simply Perfect||Sadia Saeed

Jealousy. Bullying. Anger. Anxiety. Body image issues. Selfies and social media addiction . . . Are you grappling with any of these?

Let’s be honest, juggling school, extra classes, home, friendships and new relationships can be hard. It’s difficult to find balance and tough not to get affected by the ‘happy’ content we see online. But what is genuine happiness vis-à-vis short-term pleasure? Are we even looking for it in the right place?

Written by a renowned psychologist, this beautifully illustrated book is divided into five parts that will help in easing everyday anxieties. Learn to make friends with yourself, your body, mind and feelings, and to deal with difficult emotions and situations.

You Are Simply Perfect! will equip you with life-changing tools to find contentment–in school and outside. Find your own quiet spaces inside this book with journal pages left for you to write and reflect.

Ages 12+

Chumki and the Pangolin

Cover: Chumki and the Pangolin
Chumki and the Pangolin||Lesley D.Biswas

The dangerous virus is making everything go into lockdown. But the village poacher trying to catch the pangolin Chumki has befriended. How will Chumki save the rare animal in these tough times?

Ages 7+

Malhar in the Middle

Cover: Malhar in the middle
Malhar in the middle||Shruthi Rao

Malhar wants to be a famous tabla player. But why do tabla players always sit to one side of the stage? Are they not important enough? Malhar wants answers–and he wants to sit in the middle!

 

Ages 0-3

My First Words

Book Cover: My First Words
My First Words||Penguin India

This collection of 15 mini board books is more than just a set of adorable books for a child’s first library–they are also engaging learning tools! The format includes activities like stacking, sorting, counting, matching and identifying colours that encourage interactive learning of basic concepts and facilitate developmental skills in kids.

The box set comprises mini books with sturdy board pages and rounded corners that are perfect for tiny hands. With adorable illustrations and a modern design, this box set includes a variety of relevant topics like first words, animals, numbers, shapes, colours and more.

 

Ages 3-5

Mazes and More

Cover: Mazes and More
Mazes and More||Penguin India

From adventures in the galaxy, hot air balloon ride, treasure hunt to helping the lion finds its way and much more, each maze provides hours of fun and learning. Amazing Mazes features full-color pages filled with different puzzles and mazes, along with search and find activities to keep little minds engaged. Designed to encourage logical thinking, sharpen hand-eye coordination, these activity-filled pages are sure to keep little puzzlers engaged.

Grab your pencils, trace the squiggly path and follow each amazing maze to a new discovery!

Ages 5-7

The Hook Book Series

Cover: Boy, Bear
The Hook Book Series||Various Authors

These books are for very young readers, aged five and above. The books work well for reading out loud to kids or for young readers just starting to read by themselves. Written by some of the best-known writers for children, and illustrated in exuberant colour by some of India’s most-loved illustrators, these stories are set largely in non-urban settings. Hawaldar Hook is the endearing mascot of the Hook Books. Each book includes short and fun language exercises at the end.

Ages 7+

One Day Elsewhere Series

Cover: The Black Tide
One Day Elsewhere Series||Various Authors

Discover the stories about events that changed the 20th century in the One Day Elsewhere series.

 

Dreamer Series by Lavanya Karthik

Dreamers Series Banner
Dreamers Series||Lavanya Karthik

The vividly illustrated stories of Teejan Bai and Satyajit Ray in Lavanya Karthik’s Dreamers Series are inspiring for young kids. Karthik’s stories and artworks are perfectly synced with the high and low notes of Teejan Bai’s life and have captured the most significant shots of Satyajit Ray’s life. Both of them are acknowledged and appreciated for their unique talents.

Get your children hooked to the pages of the Dreamers Series and let them get inspired to hone their skills. Here’s a glimpse of the younger selves of Teejan Bai and Satyajit Ray.

 

The Library of h0les

Cover: The Library of Holes
The Library of Holes||Penguin India

Recognizable by the hOle at the top corner of each book, these chapter books are aimed at kids learning to read independently. They are full of fun stories, gorgeous illustrations and hOles!

The hOle books are early chapter books for children transitioning from picture books to longer books. The stories are contemporary, Indian and with protagonists who are the age of the potential readers, facing dilemmas and challenges which the readers would be familiar with.

Over the years, the hOle books have been shortlisted for or won every major book award in India and a couple internationally.

 

Ages 8+

And That Is Why . . . Manipuri Myths Retold

Cover: And That Is Why . . . Manipuri Myths Retold
And That Is Why . . . Manipuri Myths Retold||L. Somi Roy

A collection of endearing and vibrant retellings of Manipuri myths told for the first time to the outside world! Discover twelve magical tales from Manipur, the mountain land in the northeast of India on the border with Myanmar. Passed down by learned scholars, balladeers and grandmothers over hundreds of years, these unknown myths and fables are enriched with beautifully rich paintings that will transport you to Manipur!

 

The Sage with Two Horns

Cover: The Sage with Two Horns
The Sage With Two Horns||Sudha Murty

Have you heard of the king who sacrificed his flesh to keep his word to a pigeon? Or about the throne that gives anyone who sits on it the unique ability to dispense justice! And how about the sculptor who managed to make magnificent statues with no hands at all?

There’s something for everyone in this collection of tales of wisdom and wit!

From quarrels among gods and the follies of great sages to the benevolence of kings and the virtues of ordinary mortals, Sudha Murty spins fresh accounts of lesser-known stories in Indian mythology. Accompanied by fantastical illustrations and narrated in an unassuming fashion, The Sage with Two Horns is sure to delight fans of the beloved storyteller.

 

Maithili and the Minotaur

Cover: Maithili and the Minotaur
Maithili and the Minotaur||C.G. Salamander

What if our world was a lot more? Filled with unknown creatures-some friendly, some scary.

An outcast to the world of humans, Maithili lives in the outskirts of a magical wilderness. But as she makes new friends in the realm of monsters, she must learn to be careful. Because some monsters are just like humans: mean, nasty and out for blood.

Perfect for fans of Hilda and Arthur and the Golden Rope, join Maithili and the Minotaur on their very first adventure in an outlandish world where nothing is as it seems.

 

The Very Glum Life of Tootoolu Toop

Cover: The Very Glum Life of Tootoolu Toop
The Very Glum Life of Tootoolu Toop||Stuti Agarwal

A delicious adventure set in Darjeeling about a young witch’s attempts at living a human life. For readers of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and David Walliams.

To every witch, wizard and glum,

I’m Tootoolu Toop, a ten-year-old, fully trained witch of the Oonoodiwaga tribe from the Darjeeling mountains. Like every other ordinary human who wants to live a life of magic, we witches and wizards want to experience the non-magical world too (I do for sure). For me, the ‘ordinary’ world is nothing short of an adventure. So I have left my tribe to live life as a glum.

This is my story.

Tootoolu is on the run. From her mundane life of stirring grasshopper’s legs into potions and her underground home where her tribe has been in hiding for 569 years. Will Tootoolu find what she’s looking for-best friends, books and a chance to be who she truly is?

 

 

Middle Grade

The Storyteller

Cover: The Storyteller
The Storyteller||Anushka Ravishankar

What if your life depended on being able to tell a good story?

Schariar, King of Persia, would marry a woman every night only to chop off her head every morning. He had sentenced the clever Scherazade to the same fate. Determined to save herself and other women from this gruesome decree, Queen Scherazade begins telling him stories one night-of magic lamps and genies, of fishermen and caliphs, of treasure caves and strange potions.

Tales so wonderful that the one night turns into 1001 . . . But what will happen when Scherazade runs out of yarns to spin? Illustrated afresh, this tenth-anniversary edition offers tales from the Arabian Nights as told by the magical storyteller Scherazade. Narrated in an engaging, tongue-in-cheek style complete with vivid imagery, The Storyteller will keep you spellbound for days!

Young Adults

Naturalist Ruddy

Cover: Naturalist Ruddy
Naturalist Ruddy||Rohan Chakravarty

Are you ‘Ruddy’ for adventure?

In the forests of central India, where teak meets sal and plateaus meet hills, natural history meets detective fiction in an inquisitive Ruddy Mongoose’s investigations. Join Naturalist Ruddy as he unearths some of nature’s most fascinating mysteries in this one-of-a-kind comic book set across India’s various natural habitats.

Learn more about lesser-known animals, insects and organisms of India, and how they interact with their environment!

A diving holiday, disturbing discovery, and kidnapping

Far out in the Arabian Sea, where the waters plunge many thousands of metres to the ocean floor, lies a chain of bewitching coral atolls – the Lakshadweep Islands. Vikram and Aditya dive into lagoons with crystal-clear water and reefs that are deep and shrouded in mystery. But when they stumble upon a devious kidnapping plot, their idyllic holiday turns into a desperate struggle for survival.

Here is an excerpt from Deepak Dalal’s new book, Lakshadweep Adventure where Faisal – the boy who’s care Vikram and Aditya are left in – makes a disturbing discovery.

Front Cover A Vikram–Aditya Story: Lakshadweep Adventure
A Vikram–Aditya Story: Lakshadweep Adventure

Faisal was in a bad mood. His uncle’s impending arrival hovered like a dark cloud above him. And his friends’ decision to abandon him for the day only made things worse.

Faisal had noticed the wind the moment he had strolled out on to the beach, and his mood had soured even further when he saw his friends enjoying themselves. He wished he had accepted Aditya’s offer as he watched them speed their boards across the lagoon. But it was too late now. His uncle would be arriving shortly.

Faisal sat under a palm tree. He passed time drawing figures in the sand. Above him, palm fronds shook and fluttered as the wind whistled through them. The sun shone brightly. The sand intensified its glare, forcing Faisal to shut his eyes. It was pleasant under the tree and the wind was crisp and enjoyable. The rustling of the palms overhead soothed him and he soon fell asleep.

The tide slowly crept up the beach and finally washed over Faisal’s feet, waking him with a start. He looked at his watch, muttering softly to himself. It was past midday.

Basheer uncle would have arrived by now. He dusted sand from his clothes and rose hurriedly to his feet.

Faisal heard raised voices from the living room window when he entered the yard. He crept forward till he was below the window and peeped in.

His uncle was standing in the centre of the room, facing a group of men.

Basheer Koya was a copy of Faisal’s father, except that he was fatter and there was hardly any hair on his head. But unlike his brother, whose manner was calm and collected, Basheer Koya’s face was contorted with rage. His cheeks were dark and red and he was shouting like a man possessed.

‘Fools!’ thundered Basheer Koya in Malayalam. ‘Monkeys have more brains than you lot. Idiots. I thought you had ears. But obviously you don’t. You weren’t to set foot in Kalpeni. How many times did I tell you not to come here? Yet, not only do you come to the island, but even more brainlessly, you visit my home.’

A bearded man with big, wide shoulders spoke. ‘Sir,’ he began. ‘Sir—’

Basheer Koya ranted on, cutting off the man. ‘I travelled all the way to Kochi to make certain that no suspicion fell on me and I returned only after the operation was over. And you? I come home and see you fools sitting in my house. I take all these precautions and now everyone on this island can link me to you and from there to the operation.’

‘But, sir—’

‘You were under orders to head to Tinakara Island. What are you doing here?’

‘Sir. I was trying to explain just that, sir. We were headed for Tinakara. But we had engine trouble, sir. A terrible rattling noise came from the engine and we were forced to head for the nearest island. You can speak to the mechanic, sir. He looked at our boat and said we were lucky to make it here to Kalpeni.’

The explanation diminished Basheer Koya’s rage, yet he continued to glare at the bearded man. ‘Kumar. Where is Kumar?’ he barked.

‘Kumar is safely on board, sir. There’s no need to worry about him. He is in the lower cabin and one of our men is with him all the time. He can’t make a sound or do anything. He won’t be able to alert the mechanics.’

Faisal froze. This was not for his ears. It was wrong of him to eavesdrop. He wondered if he should leave, but who was Kumar and what was his uncle up to?

‘No one is to know that we have a prisoner on board,’ growled Basheer Koya. ‘Even Allah will not be able to help you if he is discovered. I make no allowances for mistakes.’ Basheer Koya stared at his men, shifting his gaze from one to the other. ‘Do you understand?’

There was silence in the room.

Faisal understood full well what his uncle meant. He shuddered.

***

Journey through these breath-taking islands with a tale of scuba diving and sabotage, set in one of India’s most splendid destinations.

The more (books), the May-rrier!

We know that our current times are not the most optimistic. But now more than ever, we believe that books can act as a source of hope and joy, howsoever small, and keep us going.

We have an assorted selection of books for you this May! These will keep your young ones occupied as they spend the summers indoors, inside the safety of their cozy homes.

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All-Time Favourites for Children

Ruskin Bond

Front cover of All-Time Favourites
All-Time Favourites for Children || Ruskin Bond, Kashmira Sarode (Illustrator)

Ages:  9+  years

All Time Favourites for Children celebrates Ruskin Bond’s writing with stories that are perennially loved and can now be enjoyed in a single collectible volume. Curated and selected by India’s most loved writer, this collection brings some of the evocative episodes from Ruskin’s life, iconic Rusty, eccentric Uncle Ken, ubiquitous grandmother, and many other charming, endearing characters in a single volume while also introducing us to a smattering of new ones that are sure to be firm favourites with young readers.

 

Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival

Lavanya Karthik

Front cover of Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival
Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival || Lavanya Karthik

Ages: 10 to 14 years

It’s time for the annual festival and a special guest is expected to arrive in Gadbadnagar, but has a certain President gone too far? Has Nani finally met her match in the meanest, scariest and awfullest demon ever to crawl out of the Dark Forest? Will the Mayor’s mustache ever run for office?

Wait, there’s more!

Fake Mystery Heroes! Haunted falooda! Giant dogs–

And what’s that again about goats? You’re going to have to read it for yourself. 

 

Mirror, Mirror

Andaleeb Wajid

Front cover of Mirror, Mirror
Mirror, Mirror || Andaleeb Wajid

Ages: 10 to 14 years

Five years earlier, a friend’s nasty comment makes Ananya start hating her body. She decides to change into a new person-one who effortlessly fits into all kinds of clothes, who shuns food unless it’s salad, and who can never be called ‘Miss Piggy’-and to cut everything from her ‘old’ life, including her best friend, Raghu, for being the witness to her humiliation.

Ananya is on her way to becoming the Ananya of her dreams, but she’s still a work in progress.

One day, her parents announce that they’re expecting a baby (at their age!). To make matters worse, Raghu reappears in her life …

Andaleeb Wajid’s latest novel for young adults is a touching and funny story about a young girl’s journey to acceptance and self-love.

 

What’s the Big Secret?

Sonali Shenoy

Front cover of What's the Big Secret?
What’s the Big Secret? || Sonali Shenoy, Annushka Hardikar (Illustrator)

Ages: 9+ years

Eleven-year-old Aditya really wants to know about periods.

Ever since Rhea Didi began getting brown paper packages, there’s been something that no one is telling him. Mama turns red, Pa chokes on his coffee and Dadi has steam coming out of her ears! Thank goodness for his friends Naveen and Vinay-whom he can talk to.

But when Vinay brings an odd-looking napkin to school that soaks ink, Aditya is even more confused. Doesn’t his sister use a microtip pen?

All of this is only making little Aditya more determined to find out What is going on!

 

Dark Tales

Venita Coehlo

Front cover of Dark Tales
Dark Tales || Venita Coehlo

Ages: 9+ years

In this collection of eleven very dark and twisted tales, Venita Coelho lays bare the underbelly of contemporary India. Get ready to gasp and cringe in horror as you have the rug pulled out from under you! This is a book you won’t want to read after dark.

 

And That is Why

L. Somi Roy

And That is Why || L. Somi Roy, Sapha Yumnam (Illustrator)

Ages: 8+ years

Dear Reader, do you know
· why the deer does not eat rice?
· why man gets wrinkles and a stoop?
· why the cat buries its poop?
· why a doll is worshipped in a village called Kakching?

Discover twelve magical tales from Manipur, the mountain land in the north-east of India on the border with Myanmar. Passed down by learned scholars, balladeers and grandmothers over hundreds of years, these unknown myths and fables are enriched with beautifully rich paintings that will transport you to Manipur!

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The queen of Jhansi lashes out at the British

The rani embraced Damodar at the gates of the palace, with the British officers and soldiers looking on.

Then she turned to face Major Ellis. Her expression was grim, almost forbidding.

‘May I know the reason for your visit, Major Ellis?’ Her tone was casual, but her eyes were stormy.

Major Ellis bowed, feeling unusually nervous. ‘I bring a message from Lord Dalhousie, Your Majesty.’

‘Follow me, then.’ The rani strode into the palace and the soldiers hurried to keep pace with her.

In the main audience chamber, she seated herself on the throne and gestured to Major Ellis to speak.

The major cleared his throat several times before he felt able to utter a word. But speak he did because he had to. ‘Your adopted son, Damodar Rao’s right to rule has been rejected. So, by the Doctrine of Lapse, this kingdom now belongs to the British.’

‘Main apni Jhansi nahi doongi!’

The queen’s voice rang out, firm and true. It echoed all around the royal audience chamber and even along the corridors beyond. The Jhansi officers and guards who heard it sprang to attention and stiffened their backs with pride, almost without realizing it.

‘What did she say?’ the British officer behind Major Ellis muttered to his companion.

The other officer, who understood Hindustani well, translated quickly: ‘She said, I will not yield my Jhansi.’

Major Ellis was clearly uncomfortable, more so when Rani Lakshmibai turned her gaze on him. He had never seen the young queen look so angry. Her face was flushed, her eyes glittered with rage and her fists, partly hidden by her pearl bracelets, were clenched so tightly in her lap that her knuckles shone white.

She sat, proud and erect, on her throne, silently demanding a response from him. He turned his eyes away, unable to justify the decision made by the British.

Front cover of Queen of Fire
Queen of Fire || Devika Rangachari

 

She went on, her fury unabated. ‘Is this how the British repay loyalty? Generations of Jhansi rulers have supported them—have supported every step they have taken in this country, whatever our private feelings on the matter. So tell me, Major Ellis, what have we got for our pains?’

‘Your Majesty,’ he replied, his voice low so that those around had to strain to hear it. ‘I am a friend of Jhansi and a true supporter of your cause. But my hands are tied. I have no other option than to follow the orders of my superiors.’

‘You witnessed the adoption ceremony!’ she lashed out. ‘And you carried the news of it to your superiors. If they now doubt its validity, then it is clear that they don’t trust their own people. Don’t trust you. Yet you bend to their will and follow their unjust orders?’

Her words rankled but he had to answer. ‘I am sorry, Your Majesty,’ he said steadily, ‘but the British will now take over the governance of Jhansi. You will receive a monthly pension and may stay on here at the palace. I need to lock up the treasury and the military stores. Your money and weapons belong to the British from here on. All your soldiers will be dismissed, except a few that may remain for your personal safety.’

All eyes were on the queen; it was as if the very chamber was holding its breath. Sounds drifted in from the soldiers amassed outside the building—the murmur of voices, the clearing of throats, the shifting of feet—harmless in themselves, but indicative of the British military might mere steps away. It gave the rani no option but to obey.

To Major Ellis, the rani’s silence was more ominous than her words.

Her face was white and her hands trembled slightly as she signalled to her elderly prime minister, Dewan Rao Bande, to hand over the keys to Major Ellis.

This was a terrible blow, indeed. The British had been sniffing around various kingdoms, hoping to pounce at the first sign of weakness, which is why it had been so crucial to adopt Damodar and have it ratified. And all had seemed to be well for a while. Now her anger was directed equally at the British and herself. How could she have let her guard down and been so complacent! She should have known that the British would not give up so easily. Yet anger would not get her anywhere, she quickly realized. She would have to think fast and on her feet. She would not give up, she vowed to herself. Somehow, she would get her throne back and ensure Damodar’s succession.

Right now, Jhansi was like an ant before an elephant. But ants could bite and she would make sure this one bit hard . . .

 

Meet the king and queen of Ullas!

Have you wondered how the onion got so many layers? The story begins with the king and queen of the kingdom of Ullas, who really wanted a child.

Have a peek below!

 

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The kingdom of Ullas was very prosperous. The subjects were happy, the farmers had grown a bumper crop and the kingdom was surrounded by friendly allies. But the king and queen of Ullas were very sad. Their sadness seemed to envelop them wherever they went. This was because they really longed for a child and did not have one.

 

 

One day, they learnt of a place in the forests in the kingdom where, if you prayed hard and well, you were granted your wish.

They went there and for many days, prayed to the goddess of the forest for a long time. Finally, their prayers were heard and the goddess appeared before them in a flash of green light.

 

 

‘What do you wish for, my dear children?’ she asked.

The king and queen, overjoyed, bowed low and said, ‘We wish to have a child.’

‘So be it, you will soon have a little girl,’ said the goddess, shimmering in the greenery. ‘But remember, though she will be a loving child, she will have one flaw: She will love new clothes too much and it will make life difficult for you. Do you still want such a child?’

 

How the Onion Got its Layers || Sudha Murty

 

 

The king and queen looked at each other with their eyes full of hope and love. ‘Yes, we do,’ they said to the goddess. ‘We can’t think of anything else we want more in this world.’

The goddess smiled and vanished back among the trees.

 

 

 

 

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What will happen now? Will the king and queen be happy? And how will this lead to the onion’s many layers?

Your favourite storyteller, Sudha Murty, is back to tell you all this and more!

Remembering some words from India’s most loved storyteller

We recently celebrated our most loved storyteller, Ruskin Bond’s 86th birthday. And as much fun as we had rediscovering his stories and hearing his words again – we can never really get enough of his stories.

As we continue to flip through his words, we decided to do a our own little round-up of some of his most powerful words and quotes that have stayed with us through the years.

 

On Unequal Struggles

 

On Human Truths and Sentiments

On Sadness and Fleeting Happiness

 

On Discomfort and Struggles

 

On Dreams and Reality

 

On Friendships 

 

On Battles of Life

 

On Making Your Own Music

 

On Childhood and Adulthood

 

On Focusing and Spending on the Right Things

 


 

Whether writing for adults or for his young audience, Mr. Bond’s words have always had a resounding effect on us, no matter how many times we revisit his stories. Which of his stories are closest to your heart? Share with us in the comments below!

Meanwhile, you can join us in celebrating his work and life at our Kindle Store!

 

The Roald Dahl Reading Challenge

Author Kate DiCamillo said, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” Which book or author would make the perfect gift of reading for a child? One name popular across generations is Roald Dahl.
Roald Dahl is a favorite among children and grown-ups alike, thanks to the fun adventures he takes us on! From books for 4 year olds to 13 year olds, all children are bound to love him! His loving characters and creative words are sure to keep your child (and even you) hooked!
Depending on their age, these are the books by Roald Dahl you should pick up for your little ones, and give them a fun challenge to read them all!

4-7 Years: 

Opposites

Busy little hands can lift the flaps to discover the opposites with iconic illustrations of Dahl’s much loved characters from the one and only, Quentin Blake.
123

With beautiful, bright, colourful illustrations from Quentin Blake, plus a lift the flap surprise at the end, this is the perfect first baby book for all budding Dahl fans.
Billy and the Minpins 

Billy’s mum says he must never go out through the garden gate and explore the dark forest beyond. So, one day, that’s exactly what he does! There he meets the Minpins, tiny tree-dwelling people whose children are the size of matchsticks. They live in fear of the terrible, galloping GRUNCHER. Will it gobble Billy too – or can he find a way to defeat the hungry beast?
 
8-10 years:
James and the Giant Peach

James is  very lonely until one day something peculiar happens. At the end of the garden a peach starts to grow and GROW AND GROW. Inside that peach are seven very unusual insects – all waiting to take James on a magical adventure. But where will they go in their Giant Peach and what will happen to the horrible aunts if they stand in their way? There’s only one way to find out . . .
The Twits

With filthy hair all over his face and horrid plots growing in his mind, Mr Twit is one of the nastiest people you’ll ever meet and Mrs Twit is just as bad and even uglier! But they don’t stop at tricking each other: neighbouring children and even the local birds are in danger, and that’s where the Muggle-Wumps come in. This family of monkeys has had enough of the Twits’ tricks and, with the help of the handsome Roly-Poly Bird, they decide it’s time for sweet revenge…
The Witches

The Grand High Witch of all the World has gathered together the witches of England for an annual conference at the Hotel Magnificent in Bournemouth. Their agenda is the elimination of all the children in the country and the prospects for their young victims look bleak. But the Grand High Witch and her cronies have reckoned without the spark and ingenuity of a young guest at the hotel and his rather brilliant grandmother…
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

WHOOSH! Inside the Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket and his family are cruising a thousand feet above the chocolate factory.
They can see the whole world below them, but they’re not alone. The American Space Hotel has just launched. Lurking inside are the Vernicious Knids – the most brutal, vindictive murderous beasts in the universe.
So grab your gizzard! Hold your hats! Only Charlie and Willy Wonka can stop the Knids from destroying everything!
 

10-13 years:

Boy; Tales of Childhood

As a boy, all sorts of unusual things happened to Roald Dahl. Boy, Roald Dahl’s bestselling autobiography, is full of hilarious anecdotes about his childhood and school days, illustrated by Quentin Blake.
Going Solo

In 1938 Roald Dahl was fresh out of school and bound for his first job in Africa, hoping to find adventure far from home. However, he got far more excitement than he bargained for when the outbreak of the Second World War led him to join the RAF.

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