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‘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!

What happens when the force behind the Forces shatters?

The term ‘widow’ is said to have its roots in the Sanskrit word vidhuh meaning lonely, bereft and solitary. Widowhood marks a drastic shift, characterised by an air of despondency and melancholia. The weight this word carries pulls down the spirits and hopes of a living body until it burns down into ashes, literally and figuratively. The ripples of widowhood reverberate through the rest of the women’s life.

However, many women find their way back to life. They don’t give up, even when they’re shattered.


Here’s an excerpt from Swapnil Pandey’s The Force Behind the Forces about Priya, whose world, as she had known, had collapsed.


The Force Behind the Forces
The Force Behind the Forces || Swapnil Pandey

A crushed and grieving Priya sat at an awkward angle, jammed into a small corner of the room. She was forcing herself to face the people around. There was an ocean of them. It was the funeral of a soldier killed in action after all. And many of his companions regarded him with feeling, almost religious devotion. Naik Amit Sharma, the lad who had been killed in action, was the pride of the family. A few children ran around, but Priya could not see her five-year-old daughter—Khwaish. She did not bother to locate her either. Her world, as she had known it, had just collapsed. The atmosphere was mournful. Female relatives were howling and tearing their hair. There was also deep silence during mealtime in the house of mourning. Nothing mattered now, not even her existence. It was confusing.


She wanted to lie down and mourn in silence, away from all the people, but it was not possible. She had to sit there and be tagged as a ‘bechari’. Her mother reached out to embrace her. She didn’t know whether to console her or to cry on her shoulder herself. Priya looked at her wrinkled face. Her mother had begun to look several years older within a span of a few days.


The voices grew in intensity; the incessant whispers swung between viciousness and apathy:

Ma-beti dono widhwa hai. Kya naseeb leke aayi hai bechari. [Mother and daughter both are widows. What horrible destiny.]’

Paise kisko milne hain? Biwi ko ya ladke ki ma ko? [Who will get the money? The wife or the boy’s mother?]’

Widhwa ho gayi bechari, ab kya karegi paison ka?

[The poor woman is a widow now. What will she do with the money?]’

Bhari jawani me widhwa, baap bhi nahi hai. Beti bhi hai. Bhagwan na dikhaye aise din kisi jo. Bechari. [She’s been widowed so young. She has no father to turn to either. An she has a little daughter besides. Nobody should have such a fate. Poor woman.]’

Iski ma ko dekh, kya karegi aab? Natini bhi itni choti hai. [Look at her mother. What will she do now? Her granddaughter too is so young.]’


She swallowed every remark and rubbed her hands in her lap—desperately. Her eyes were bloodshot; she looked as tired as she felt—dishevelled hair and dark circles beneath her blazing black eyes. She had not just lost her husband—the one she loved with all her heart—but her existence as well. It was a brutal realization that left her devastated, and pushed her from hope to despair within thirteen days.


The ‘Terahvin’ marks the end of the mourning period which lasts thirteen days from the day of the cremation of the deceased. Those thirteen days are meant for the rituals performed for the sake of salvation of the departed soul. These thirteen days provided a lot of time to Priya to mourn. She felt alone and depressed, and even howled at nights remembering Amit—who had promised to walk beside her for the next seven lives.


Priya knew this was not salvation. Shattered, she would lie down on the bed and stare at the flame in the lantern. Sometimes she looked in the mirror, scrubbed her face vigorously, panicked, and wondered in utter dismay—why her? Sometimes she would wake up panting in her damp sari, from the nightmares of her dead husband. But what troubled her the most was the consistent taunts from the people that shrunk her dignity. People forgot she was not just a widow, but a flesh-and-blood person. Suddenly, not only her own identity but the identities of her mother and her daughter were also forgotten. They were not persons any more, but rather a bunch of weak, meaningless women, not eligible for a respectable social status.


The women did not see a grieving young woman, rather a widow, a ‘bechari’ who had almost lost the right to live as a free citizen. Priya lived in a society surrounded by endless myths and stigmas. She certainly did not belong to the progressive class, but came from a conservative background where women lived in shackles and under limitations. Her resources were also limited, and so was her financial condition.


Cruel remarks thrown casually at her made her life miserable, and the mourning almost intolerable. There was also a point when she felt she was losing the will to live, but her beautiful five-year-old daughter, Khwaish, whom the couple had named with hope and happiness when she was born three years after their marriage, on 16 July 2007, helped her cope. It was as if all their wishes had been fulfilled with her arrival, and their life was complete.


Read The Force Behind the Forces to find out if Priya succumbed to her destiny and grief or she decided not to give up.

On the Open Road—About reality and dreams

In Stuti Changle’s On the Open Road, you’ll find Myra, Kabir and Sandy standing on the cusp of making life-changing decisions. The road to their dreams may not be easy, but their spirits remain high.

Here’s an extract to give you a glimpse of Kabir’s life and his desire to make a name for himself and achieve his dreams.


On the Open Road
On the Open Road || Stuti Changle

The moment my flight lands, I think of Sandy and how I want to meet him. I pick up my Steve Jobs book and a black leather handbag in haste. I comfortably make my way through the aisle. That’s the advantage of travelling business class. Unlike the economy passengers, you don’t have to wait for the queue to move before you can deboard the plane. I am back in India, exhausted and burnt out from another business trip.

‘Nice shoes, sir,’ the stewardess compliments me as I reach the exit. Her name card reads Susan. She has been acting strange throughout the flight.




She hands me a folded recycled tissue paper. I don’t know what to do with that.


‘Is something sticking to my face?’ I quip like a fifth grader.


She laughs out loud.


A little embarrassed, I walk off. I unfold the tissue paper and read it closely. A mobile number is written on it in pink ink. I flip through the pages of the book and place it randomly between them. I am not part of the mile high club yet. But I can’t keep Sandy waiting any longer! God has been merciful to me in some ways. My body is the biggest gift to me. I can turn heads and make things happen with a meek smile.


Just like in a flight, there are three types of people in the world.


The aisle-seat passengers are too content to try anything new. The middle-seat passengers are in a constant struggle with the self as they want to break free, but something holds them back. The window-seat passengers take risks and follow their hearts as all that keeps them moving is the view of the infinite.


I certainly belong to the middle-seat category.


My life is seemingly perfect but I want to know what imperfections feel like. What it feels like to give your everything to something and appreciate its outcome one day. I am proud of my lineage, but I always think about what life would be like if I built something on my own.


Life goes on in an endless loop. If it is a weekend, you’ve got to booze. If it is a weekday, you’ve got to watch downloaded TV shows from Pirate Bay. Even if there are thousands on your checklist, there are still a hundred more on the wish list. The hangover of the TV shows stays longer than that of the booze though. For a week you’re Harvey, the next Walter, then Tyrion. When you’re stressed out, you try to act cool like Chandler.


But I wish to be like Sandy. He is the one in the window seat. He dropped out of engineering college and developed a series of unconventional apps. He works on his dream, day and night, like a ninja with coding superpowers.


He tells me you might not have a penny in your pocket, you might sleep on a hungry stomach, your uncle might not support you, the world surely won’t, but don’t let the spark in you die. When you look into the mirror, you should know that you’re born to reach for the stars.


Read On the Open Road to find out if Myra, Kabir and Sandy succumb to the obstacles or achiev their dreams.

On Karma and spirituality: A chat with Acharya Prashant

Acharya Prashant, a Vedanta philosopher, an Advaita teacher, and the author of Karma, talks about his transition from the corporate world to the spiritual world. He also answers questions about Karma, a word as common in the spiritual lexicon as in the popular parlance.

Karma || Acharya Prashant

After studying at IIM and working in the corporate sector, you took respite into the world of wisdom and spirituality. How did you overcome the difficult period of ‘sorrow, longing, and search’?
The basic inner challenge that life presents to us remains the same, no matter what the circumstances are. The one all pervasive and ubiquitous challenge is to keep doing the ‘right thing’ even in the most difficult situations. So whether one is an MBA student or a corporate employee or a spiritual leader, one has to act rightly – which simply means to not act from a personal centre of greed and/or fear.

There has never been any tectonic shift in my life as such. As an individual, I have always aimed at gradually trekking higher and higher. So, this movement from being a consultant in the corporate world to leading PrashantAdvait Foundation, is to be understood as a process of elevation and not of renunciation. The shift was only towards something higher, towards something more critical and of higher caliber. And the search . . . it has not ended; it is very much there. But yes, the destination has changed.


Your book, Karma, was first spoken and written later. What made you pen down hundreds of questions that you’ve verbally answered in a decade?
Every project that the Foundation undertakes is in tandem with the needs and requirements of those for whose sake it exists. As an organisation and as a socio-spiritual mission, PrashantAdvait Foundation exists to serve and transform contemporary society. And one of its prominent objectives is to liberate spirituality from superstition; which could not have been possible without a total repudiation of the false beliefs linked with the concept of Karma – and this, we know, has been quite successfully achieved with the book. Because the Foundation believes in harnessing each and every medium/platform for the Mission, the idea to write books (and make them reach the masses on a wide scale) occurred quite naturally to us.


Why do you think what people know about Karma is wrong?
Unfortunately, today there is hardly any concept in spirituality which has not been both misinterpreted and misrepresented. The same tradition to which we owe gems like Sri Bhagwad Gita, has sadly become a vehicle for misappropriation. Real meanings and implications of concepts linked with spirituality stand obfuscated and distorted by centuries of misplaced expositions and self-appeasing translations.
So, instead of asking what is wrong in the contemporary definition of Karma, we should be skeptical enough to ask: is there really anything at all that is right about it? Because had there been even a single grain of truth in it, we humans couldn’t have been the way they are – violent, chaotic, depressed, loveless, faithless, and what not!


In your book, you’ve mentioned that one must do what is right and forget about the result. Is there an ideal way to work without expecting results?

It is not the expectation that is to be dropped, but the one with the expectation that must transform. If the actor – the doer, the centre from where the action is happening – is itself the one with desires and expectations, then no attempt to work without expecting results would be successful.
So do not look at the expectations, look at the one who is expecting. And having looked at it attentively, you might find the key to ‘Nishkama Karma’.


In one of the chapters, you have said, ‘Just be wisely selfish and help others’. Can you elaborate on what you mean by being ‘wisely selfish’? Does being selfish not count as bad Karma?

Selfishness is bad when the self is petty; but when the self reaches spiritual heights and the relationship with the other is of Love, then being selfish gets redefined as being compassionate.


Do you plan on writing another book? If yes, what would you like to focus on?

All I can say right now is that I will keep addressing issues that require attention, and books on those issues/topics/concepts will continue to be circulated to the masses.

Scientists, Mary, and topi rocket from Thumba

In this book about the launch of a rocket from Thumba, Menaka Raman’s story and characters are sure to tap on the creative nerves of young kids. The first time when Mary heard that a rocket will be a launched from Thumba, her excitement knew no bounds. She was bitten by an inquisitive bug and had a list of questions to find the answers of. She waited and hoped to see the rocket go up in Space every day.

Here’s an extract for those who, like Mary, are eager to know about India’s first ever rocket launch.


Topi Rockets from Thumba
Topi Rockets from Thumba || Menaka Raman

January 1963

Every morning, a rickety old bus would arrive in Thumba from Trivandrum and drop off a group of men.

Everyone would come out of their homes and shops, wondering what was inside the many boxes the men carried into the church, watching them as they cycled from here to there or walked together in pairs.

Mary watched too, but her friends at school did not care.

‘So what?’ said George Thomas.

‘Big deal!’ dismissed Thomas George.

‘Who cares?’ shrugged Shoshakutty.

‘I can launch a rocket all by myself!’ boasted Chacko.

‘Why does Dr Sarabhai need so many people to launch just one rocket then?’ Mary wondered.

One day, Mary and her amma were on their way to the market when she saw a car pulling up outside the church. She caught sight of a tall man unfolding himself from the back seat, and knew immediately who it was.

Mary ran right up to him once again.

‘Dr Sarabhai! When is the rocket going to be ready? Why is it taking so long? My friend Chacko can launch a rocket all by himself. Why do you need so many people?’

Dr Sarabhai’s eyes lit up.

‘Mary, you remind me of myself when I was your age. Always asking questions! Let me try and answer yours.’

It’s taking time because India’s friends from around the world are sending us things we need for the rocket launch. We have to wait for them to arrive and only then can we start to put things together. And I need the help of hundreds and hundreds of hands and minds to do it.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States is sending us a NIKE APACHE ROCKET. They are also training our scientists at their centres in America.

March 1963

Days, weeks and months came and went. Mary turned ten. Ouso made her ayala fry, Amma stitched her a new dress and her brother gifted her his old bicycle.

Some days, Mary would cycle by the church to see if she could catch sight of the rocket.

But there was no rocket.

Mary studied hard for her exams, praying they would not launch the rocket while she was writing her maths paper.

They didn’t.

She spent the summer holidays learning swimming in the lazy blue sea.


Mary celebrated Palm Sunday, Easter Friday and Onam.

Mary was disappointed.

But her friends at school were not.

Sometimes, Mary wished she was one of the pigeons that sat on the rafters high up on the ceiling of the church so that she could see what was happening inside.


September 1963

By now, Mary knew some of the serious men who worked in the church. She knew where they were from and what they ate for breakfast. She discovered they were not so serious after all. And since Dr Sarabhai wasn’t always there to answer her questions, she had started asking them instead.

Mary: What are the parts of a rocket?

Scientist 1: A rocket has four main parts: the nose cone, fins, rocket body and engine. The nose cone carries the main cargo or payload of the rocket.

Mary: How do you launch a rocket?

Scientist 2: Rockets burn fuel in the engine and this creates exhaust. The hot exhaust comes out very fast in one direction pushing the rocket in the opposite direction! WHOOSH!


To know the answers to Mary’s numerous questions about Space and rockets, read Topi Rockets from Thumba.

Khwabnama—Kulsum recalling the past

Akhtaruzzaman Elias’s literary piece titled Khwabnama is translated by Arunava Sinha from Bengali to English. In this magnum opus, Elias documents the Tebhaga movement, wherein peasants demanded two-thirds of the harvest they produced on the land owned by zamindars. Let us read this excerpt from Khwabnama in which Kulsum walks down the memory lane recalling her relationship with her husband and step son. She also reminisces the time before the famine when their lives were different.


Khwabnama || Akhtaruzzaman Elias || Arunava Sinha (Translator)

All these memories from long ago, the exuberance from the past, the happiness before the famine—all of them surged through the troubled times that had passed since then to bubble up in Kulsum’s heart. She had not given birth to a child from her own womb. So whether you talked of a son or of a daughter, Tamiz was both of these for her. When this surge of emotion spilled out of her heart, her entire body thrilled to it, and to escape this infestation she suddenly grew desperate to find fault with Tamiz. But then she was an illiterate woman, the daughter of a fakir; how was she to find a flaw in the strapping young man that Tamiz was? Instead, she took advantage of Tamiz’s father sleeping like the dead to steal some of his anger with his son and taste it—do you have to go to Khiyar in search of work? But there was less and less of work to be had with every passing day, this was true too. Not too long ago, even eleven or twelve years ago, old-timers used to say, sowing, weeding, reaping—all sorts of jobs were available right here in Girirdanga and Nijgirirdanga, on both sides of the lake. Apparently there weren’t enough people looking for work then. And in case something needed to be done at short notice, Pocha’s son Kasimuddi, who lived across the lake, had to be sent for. He was as stupid as his father, didn’t own even a sliver of land, and lived in other farmers’ huts or cowsheds or verandas. People would beg and plead with him when they needed a tree trimmed or a house repaired. And look, since then a thousand Kasimuddis had sprung up in every direction. All the bastards were in search of work. So many people died in the famine, so many more sold their house and land and went away, but still the number of people never decreased. All those who had sold their land and house but not left the village were desperate to work as hired hands. But where was the work? Earlier the sharecroppers hired daily labourers, but now they even set their own babies in arms to work in the fields. All right, all understandable. What choice did Tamiz have but to go to Khiyar for work? But consider what his father was saying, consider it well. Why all this flirtation with women when you go to Khiyar? Tamiz’s father knew everything, Kulsum could imagine too, they weren’t good people over at Khiyar. Whenever they spotted young men, working men, they set their daughters to trap them. They got their daughters to marry these men and then kept them in their own homes, forcing the grooms to work on the land that they had taken on lease, to look after the cattle, to build their houses for them. Kneading clay and making walls with it was hard work. The young men became permanent members of their families. The witches cast their spells and the men passed their entire lives as their slaves, not even remembering their own parents any more. A man settling down in his wife’s home—the whole thing suddenly appeared intolerable to Kulsum. Not for nothing had Tamiz’s father become despondent. Let me tell you, he was no ordinary man. No one knew whose call he answered in his sleep when he walked out at night, or where he went, or how far. People said so many things about Tamiz’s father, but no matter what he did in his sleep, there was no match for him when it came to hard work. It was the people of Majhipara who used to enjoy the fish that Tamiz’s father caught in Katlahar Lake before it passed into Sharafat Mondol’s control. Back then Tamiz’s father could snare carp weighing 6 or 7 seers each even with his ripped fishing net. Those little nets would often sink to the bottom of the lake under the weight of the fish, forcing him to wade neck-deep into the water to reel the net back in. The veteran fishermen would say, ‘You’d better be careful going in there. All the fish come running when you cast your net. Not a good sign.


Read Khwabnama to understand the many layers of the Tebhaga movement and to appreciate Elias’ writing style and thematic structure of the novel.

India and China’s conflict over Sikkim

Both India and China began their attempts to claim vassalage over Sikkim in the nineteenth century and after some pockets of dormancy, the issue returned to haunt India–China relations in the twenty-first century. The graph of Sikkim’s history saw many curves due to the conflict between India and China over its territory. Therefore, China’s recognition of Sikkim in 2005 represents an important milestone in India’s China diplomacy.

Here’s an excerpt from The Long Game that will give you a glimpse of the chequered history of tutelage and vassalage of Tibet and Sikkim due to their shared Himalayan Buddhist heritage.


The Long Game
The Long Game || Vijay Gokhale

In 1904, weary of Tibetan intransigence in accepting the boundary and trading arrangements negotiated between the British and the Chinese, the Government of India sent Sir Francis Younghusband with a military force into Lhasa. The resultant convention between Great Britain and Tibet (known as the Lhasa Convention of 7 September 1904), compelled the Dalai Lama’s government to recognize the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet as defined by the 1890 Anglo–Chinese Convention. With the Chinese and Tibetans on the same page, so to speak, the British government could have resumed the process of demarcation of the Sikkim–Tibet boundary that was interrupted in 1895. They chose not to do so.

The crumbling Chinese Empire, in a last gasp, launched a military campaign in Tibet under Chao Erh-feng, the Imperial Viceroy, and occupied Lhasa, thereby distracting the Tibetans from creating further problems on the Sikkim–Tibet frontier. Soon thereafter in 1911, the Chinese Empire itself collapsed, and the British were left as the sole dominant power in the Himalayas. Hence the British might not, any longer, have considered the Sikkim–Tibet border to be an immediate problem for the British Indian Empire’s Himalayan frontier. They never resumed the process of demarcation. This British decision would return to haunt India–China relations in the twenty-first century.

Following the independence of India in 1947, the new Government of India entered into a new treaty with Sikkim in 1950 under which it became a protectorate. Sikkim’s defence, foreign affairs and communications were to be handled by the Government of India. Hence, when boundary negotiations began with China in the late 1950s, the Sikkim-Tibet frontier was deemed by the Indian side to be a part of the agenda for the India–China boundary talks. In 1956, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai acknowledged the special relations that India had with Sikkim, but subsequently avoided any discussion with India on the Tibet–Sikkim boundary during the border talks in the late 1950s and in the official level talks in 1960. In fact, Premier Zhou wrote to Nehru on 8 September 1959 making it clear that the boundary between China and Sikkim ‘does not fall within the scope of our present discussion . . .’

This was no coincidence; it is now known that the Chinese were already aware of correspondence between the Government of India and the Dalai Lama’s government in 1948 (before the founding of the People’s Republic of China), wherein the Tibetan government had demanded that independent India should first return all the lands occupied by the British Empire. Sikkim was one of the territories claimed by them. A cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry to their ambassadors in July 1955, which contained several suggestions to strengthen ties with Afro-Asian nations, contained instructions to the effect that ‘we should formulate a secret stipulation on the status of Sikkim, Bhutan, Kanjuti, etc.’ In 1954, the Chinese published a map showing Sikkim as a part of China. These instances suggest that the new Communist government in Beijing wanted to keep all options open, including the Tibetan claims over Sikkim.

Although they were in no position at that point of time to challenge India over Sikkim, Zhou Enlai shrewdly declined to engage in any activity that might suggest China’s de jure recognition of Sikkim as a protectorate of India. For this reason, when India proposed that the boundary discussions should include the Sikkim–Tibet (China) sector, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Indian Embassy in Beijing on 26 December 1959, saying that ‘the boundary between China and Sikkim has long been formally delimited and there is neither any discrepancy between the maps nor any disputes in practice.’ When Indian Ambassador Parathasarathi paid his farewell call on Vice Foreign Minister Geng Biao in Beijing on 19 July 1961, the Head of the Asian Department, Zhang Wenjin, who was also present, even alleged that India was wilfully trying to involve China in order to pressurize Sikkim (and Bhutan) into accepting India’s version of where their boundaries with China lay. In reality, the Chinese were buying time, and possibly studying records, while they made up their minds about Tibetan claims on Sikkim as well as the Anglo-Chinese discussions in earlier periods that had led to the 1890 and 1906 Conventions between Britain and China.


Gul and Cavas amid the storm

In this spectacular book, Tanaz Bhathena brings forth the journey of Gul and Cavas, who are much more than lovers. With a willingness to keep fighting, through pain and hardship, the two fight all odds and eventually achieve their goal. Through her strong characters, Bhathena attempts to reconstruct what India might have looked like without the British at its helm.

Here’s an extract from the book about the conversation between Cavas and Juhi, who endured a brutal marriage to King Lohar.


Rising Like a Storm || Tanaz Bhathena

I fall silent for a long moment. “Who else is in this prison?”

“Right now, it isn’t full—if the guards’ gossip is to be believed. Raja Amar had initially signed an order to free the cage victims being held here. After Shayla took the throne, she overrode the order, deciding she was better off reselling them at the flesh market. Didn’t make much off them, from what I hear. The mammoth turned out to be a liability, trampling half his handlers. He had to be put down. The peri she sold escaped his merchant owner by killing him in the first week. The merchant’s family demanded compensation from Shayla, which she, naturally, didn’t give. Now, apart from the shadowlynx, which even the guards are afraid to approach, this prison holds only me, Amira, and you.”

“Amira’s still alive, then.” Relief briefly flickers in my ribs. “Gul had nightmares about you both.”

I wonder if she’s still having them. I won der who’s taking care of her now.

“Amira’s alive,” Juhi says. “And she will prob ably remain so until Gul is captured.”

If Gul is captured,” I correct. “She won’t make it easy. She’s stronger than she was before. I’ve felt her magic.”

“Which is why they got to you first, didn’t they? So that they could draw her here to Ambar Fort?”

“That was my fault— I went to attack Alizeh,” I say, my guilt like salt rubbed over an open wound. “Gul’s too smart. She won’t take their bait and pay the price for my stupidity!”

“Oh, Cavas, I wish I could believe you. But you don’t believe yourself.”

In the darkness, something prickly crawls across my foot, a bloodworm that I kick off in the sharp blue light of the shackle.

“I wish I could tell her not to come,” I say.

“Can’t you?” Shrewdness returns to Juhi’s voice, reminding me why I didn’t trust her the first time I met her— why I still don’t feel wholly comfortable confiding in her.

“What do you mean?”

“You said you felt her magic. That’s very specific.”

We’re complements. It would be easy to say aloud. But the prison’s walls likely have ears and I don’t want my words falling on the wrong ones.

Juhi seems to understand. “Try,” she whispers. “Try to tell her.”

I close my eyes, breathing deeply, my mind entering that eerie, meditative space that makes my skin glow, that takes me back to Tavan’s darkened temple. I make my way to the shadowy sanctum, where Sant Javer waits alone, watching me calmly. I hesitate, feeling shy. Gul, I know, has spoken to the sky goddess several times, but I’ve never done so with the saint I’ve worshipped since I was a boy.

My tongue eventually unties itself and I wish him an “Anandpranam.”

“She isn’t here, my boy,” Sant Javer says softly. “She hasn’t been here for a while.”

My already fraying nerves teeter on the edge of breaking. “Gul?” I call out. “Are you there? Gul!”

The pain makes it difficult to concentrate and so does the distance. Barely a moment goes by before I’m opening my eyes again, my head resting against the wall where I collapsed.

“Juhi?” I whisper.

“Still here,” she says. “You began glowing for a bit and then you collapsed.

What happened?”

“It didn’t work,” I say. “I couldn’t reach her.”

And I’m terrified that if I do reach Gul, all I’ll hear in return is silence.


Must-read books of August

We know that the little ones are busy adoring the blue sky these days turning into purple-pink and are wondering whether to mutter ‘Oh! August is finally here!’ or ‘Aww! It’s only August’. So, taking care of their visual palette, we intend to captivate their attention with our vibrant and colourful covers of our latest releases in August and promise to keep them entertained, engrossed, and ecstatic. The curated list ranges from care to courage, mantra to nostalgia, and struggle to success. It’s time for you to make some space in your bookshelves for these amazing titles.

Here is a list of our recommendations for August.


A Giant Leap
A Giant Leap || Thomas Scotto,  Translated by Nakashi Chowdhry

This is one of the books in the One Day Elsewhere series. It’s 20 July 1969. At home, June is waiting for a big event, the biggest of her life: the birth of the baby that’s in her mother’s belly. But in the hospital, on the streets, everyone else is waiting for another big event: a man is about to walk on the Moon.


My Father’s Courage
My Father’s Courage || Anne Loyer,  Translated by Nakashi Chowdhry

Aslam helplessly witnesses his father’s arrest: he disobeyed the British authorities by harvesting salt-a heavily taxed item. The boy is assailed with doubt. Why did his father break the law? Why doesn’t sea salt belong to everyone? When he learns that Gandhiji is going to be marching through his village of Jalalpore, Aslam feels hopeful. He is the only one who can oppose the authorities and, maybe, free his father.


The Black Tide
The Black Tide || Marie Lenne-Fouquet

Yann, the son of a fisherman in Portsall, loves selling fish at the port with his father. He lays out the ice, puts the fish on it and plays shop. But one day, the sea is very rough. The storm and the wind bring a terrible smell and devastating news: there has been a shipwreck and an oil spill!


Shyam, Our Little Krishna
Shyam, Our Little Krishna || Devdutt Pattanaik

In this all-in-one storybook, picture book and colouring book, India’s most-loved mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik introduces the story of Krishna, fondly known as Shyam, to a new generation of readers. Told simply in his inimitable style, Shyam, Our Little Krishna is perfect as a read-aloud to acquaint young readers with the beauty, wisdom and love that Krishna embodied. The book is curated with fascinating bite-sized stories, myths and trivia about the young god, and it features over forty playful artworks accompanied by pages dedicated for colouring.


How the Earth Got Its Beauty
How the Earth Got Its Beauty || Sudha Murty

Have you ever stopped to marvel at the earth’s beauty: at snow-capped mountains and oceans so deep; at colourful flowers and extraordinary animals? The tale of how such beauty came into existence is a curious one indeed. India’s favourite storyteller brings alive this timeless tale with her inimitable wit and simplicity. Tricked out with enchanting illustrations, this gorgeous chapter book is the ideal introduction for beginners to the world of Sudha Murty.


10 Indian Heroes Who Help People Live With Dignity
10 Indian Heroes Who Help People Live With Dignity || Somak Ghoshal

This book tells the stories of ten Indian heroes who have been working in diverse fields to help society’s most vulnerable live a better life–from securing mobility rights for people with disability to abolishing the practice of manual scavenging. While their challenges are different, what they have in common is the desire to see all human beings live a life of dignity. Journalist Somak Ghoshal writes about the below-mentioned women and men who are trying to make the world a more just and equitable place for everyone.

  1. Irom Sharmila Chanu
  2. Aruna Roy
  3. Bezwada Wilson
  4. Medha Patkar
  5. Dr Devi Shetty
  6. Bhanwari Devi
  7. Menaka Guruswamy
  8. Anup Surendranath
  9. Satinath Sarangi
  10. Mahantesh GK

Bringing Back Grandpa

Bringing Back Grandpa || Madhuri Kamat

As his Grandpa gets ill and more confused, Xerxes’ life becomes correspondingly difficult. There are boys at school playing all kinds of mean tricks on him and his mother wants him to excel, as usual-but it is hard when his main ally Grandpa is not himself. How is Xerxes going to cope with the different things people expect of him? Will he make peace in school? And most importantly, can he help Grandpa become better?


Let’s Go Time Travelling Again!
Let’s Go Time Travelling Again! || Subhadra Sen Gupta

How did Indian mulmuls make it into Cleopatra’s wardrobe? Who popularized the Mahabharata in households across the country? Did our ancestors really identify Jupiter and Saturn without even a telescope?

Find the answers to these and many other unusual questions about the India of yesterday. Go time travelling through the alleys of history and explore the many occupations that have existed through time-from dancers and playwrights to farmers and doctors. Sift through snapshots of the rich life led by ordinary Indians and discover unexpected titbits about language, food and culture.

Told through portraits of children growing up in the villages, towns and courts of our country, this sequel to the award-winning Let’s Go Time Travelling is a vivid glimpse into our past.


A Cello on the Wall
A Cello on the Wall || Adèle Tariel, Translated by Nakashi Chowdhry

On an ordinary afternoon in West Berlin, Charlie discovers a cello that once belonged to his grandmother. His parents had fled East Berlin with this cello many years ago, while Charlie,s grandparents still live on the other side of the wall. But the year is 1989 and revolt rumbles in the streets of Berlin to tear down the wall. This book is another one in the One Day Elsewhere series.


Postbox Kashmir
Postbox Kashmir || Divya Arya

Do only Muslims live in Kashmir?

Why do girls in Kashmir do stone pelting?

Whom do they want freedom from?

Can you imagine being confined to the four walls of your home with no internet, no social media?

Are Kashmiris really invisible to the rest of the country?

These are some of the questions two teenagers–Saumya in Delhi and Duaa in Kashmir–asked through letters they exchanged over almost three years.

Framing these letters is the detailed history and commentary provided by Divya Arya, a BBC journalist who asked them to be pen pals, which places their conversations against the backdrop of the political history and turbulent present of Kashmir and India. Postbox Kashmir takes on the challenging task of attempting to portray life in Kashmir from the perspective of the young minds growing inside it and providing a context of understanding for the young generation watching it from the outside.

6 Quotes You Must Read on Gender and Sexuality

While many use religion to justify why they are being unfair to a person’s gender and sexuality, Devdutt Pattanaik in his books The Pregnant King and Shikhandi And Other Queer Tales They Don’t Tell You shows how mythologies across the world appreciate what we deem as queer.
Here are 6 quotes on what it means to be a man, a woman, or a queer.
What it feels to be a woman
Repercussion of Patriarchy
The meaning of queer in different mythologies
Should the queer hide or be heard like the thunderous clap of the hijra?
The functions of the forms
Traces of feminism in Hindu mythology
Read Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Pregnant King and Shikhandi And Other Queer Tales They Don’t Tell You and make sense of queerness and the diversity in society.

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