Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of 2010

It has been an eventful year at Saffron Tree. To end this year, we are presenting a selection of books, across various categories, by our contributors. These highlight some of the interesting books that we have come across this year. Enjoy! Have a great year ahead.

Ages 0 - 8


The Silly Story of Bondapalli by Shamim Padamsee & Ashok Rajagopalan
Gajapati Kulapati by Ashok Rajagopalan

The Silly Story of Bondapalli and Gajapati Kulapati were the Artnavy staples this year. From Tulika, these books were enjoyed, read and gifted. While Bondapalli celebrates being round and fat and happy, Gajapati was a cumulative tale in rhythm about an elephant who could not help sneezing. Awesome illustrations, low word count, cheerful narratives endeared these tales to my five year old.

Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles and Rod Clement

The simple lesson that you are great the way you are, delivered in a hilarious manner. Full marks to the delightful illustrations for aiding that tricky task. Definitely a book for keeps.

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood

Had reviewed it on ST a while ago. We love the illustrations and it is rather reassuring to know that even a king can be silly!

There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss

When it came to one that the two have enjoyed together - it had to be There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr.Seuss! It stands true to its claim of being a 'book of ridiculous rhymes' and in that it transcends ages and sexes. It is our funniest pick for the year, mostly because it seemed bountiful when it came to laughter and giggles!

My Grandson is a Genius
Giles Andreae

It is a hilarious book which also oozes with the warm and affection of a grandpa towards his grandson. The pictures and the text are completely contradictory, providing the amusement ! While the text speaks of a grandpa''s pride on his baby grandson's little achievements, the pictures speak of some other mischief on the part of the baby. We can all relate to it, since we hear our own parents speak with pride and joy about their grandchildren !

Too Many Bananas by Sringeri Srinivas

This book has already been reviewed here at ST. This book continues to hold a charm especially for my 4 year old daughter.The simplicity, gentle humour and great illustrations are the reason for the popularity of this book in our house. -Ranjani

Most Impressive Illustrations

The Monster Who Ate Darkness by Joyce Dunbar & Jimmy Liao

The Monster Who Ate Darkness by Joyce Dunbar and illustrated by Jimmy Liao was the best in terms of visual appeal and drama and the story was moving as well.

Favorite Chapter Book/Series

Rainbow Magic Fairy series (Scholastic)

Fairies, fairies and more fairies. What started innocently as one weather fairy book has now taken a deep root and seems to be the pulse of the girls' imaginary play. They have a fairy for every occasion, need and want. Over the past 8 months we have read some book from the Rainbow Magic Fairy series from Scholastic for bed time. For the six year old, it is an easy read, she breezes through the book by herself in 30 min flat and for the four year old, the magic of fairies and simple language keeps her engrossed. I have request for a set of Rainbow Magic books and fairy cake for celebrating their birthday. Need I say more?

Stanley's Christmas Adventure
in Flat Stanley series by Jeff Brown

The 6 year old voted for her (Flat) Stanley chapter book - Stanley's Christmas Adventure by Jeff Brown, as her most favorite chapter book. We actually picked this one up a few months ago, well before Christmas, but it feels good to be celebrating the book now. In this book, Mr.Christmas (Santa) is grumpy while the elves of Snow City are busy wrapping gifts. He has decided to not deliver gifts this time, since he thinks he is no more appreciated. And because there are too many bad things like bombs and wars going on in the world. Sarah, his daughter, wants him to meet some of the good people so he can reconsider. Stanley and his family are the chosen ones. When Santa pulls out their letters from his files, he excitedly hops on to the sleigh with loads of gifts! I read the book myself after seeing my daughter read it countless times. And when we talked about it later, we both agreed on the letters being the best part of the book!

Favorite Toddler Books

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs was very much loved and read over and over again. The things that stood out in the book for us was the countdown instead of counting up, dinosaurs acting goofy and silly, with some of them being taken home or reprimanded. While it is a counting book, it could be expanded to talk about colors, patterns, actions, and to play Guess Who's Missing!
-Kodi's Mom

The Little Engine That Could
retold by Watty Piper

My 2 year old came up with a long list when I tried to find out "what we leally leally like". But for the record, we thought we will go with the classic that we thoroughly enjoyed all year - (the complete, original edition of )The Little Engine That Could, retold by Watty Piper. A long train is stranded and is looking for help to be pulled, to deliver goodies to children. But passersby like Shiny New engine, Passenger Engine, Big Engine, Freight Engine and Rusty Old Engine, all refuse, giving a variety of excuses. Finally, the last one chugging along, Little Blue Engine, tries and succeeds. I am not sure if the morals of optimism and hard work reached home, but we unfailingly rooted for our Little Engine, chanting along with her, I think I can. I think I can. I think I can, every single time!

Favorite Early Reader Book

We Both Read series (Treasure Bay)

We discovered We Both Read series this year, an early reader series which encourages my 5 yo to read independently, without compromising on the familiarity and comfort of me reading to him. On one side of each page is text for the parent to read and it stops mid sentence, to continue on the other side, with larger font and simpler words, toned down to the child's reading level. The reader is so caught up in the story and eager to find out what happens next that he tends to read naturally without any hesitation. The series ranges between fiction and non-fiction topics, stories have plots appealing to the 5-6 year old. Some of the stories we read were similar to the Panchatantra tales, with lessons laced with humor woven between engaging plot lines.
-Kodi's Mom

Favorite Non Fiction

Where's Hanuman?
Same and Different by Manjula Padmanabhan

The most engaging visual activity books were Where's Hanuman? and Same and Different. One needs to figure out the the chosen one or the odd one in each of these books- very challenging fun even for adults.

Favorite Audio Books

Little Vinayak by Karadi Tales
Kutti and the Mouse by Karadi Tales

Little Vinayak and Kutti and the Mouse from the Mouse series from Karadi were a hit not just with us but among a lot of friends as well. The former was sort of like Giraffes cannot dance and the latter was an old Tamil grandma's tale retold. The books that went with the audio were well illustrated and the tales gripping. Vidya Balan and the Evam group were both apt choices and very competent in their narrations. - ArtNavy

Favorite Pop-Up Book

12 Days of Christmas by Robert Sabuda

SABUDA! Need I say more?! If you insist I’ll say this - his interpretation of the carol into paper engineering is nothing short of brilliant.

Most Thought Provoking

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One left an impact with us that cannot be described. One is about standing up for self, an important lesson that begins at preschool and continues through adulthood. The clever wordplay and bright colors convey the message in bold strokes.
-Kodi's Mom

Ages 8+


Phani's Funny Chappals by Sridala Swami and Sanjay Sarkar

Phani's Funny Chappals, which combines spare text with expressive illustrations in its tongue in cheek account of a boy and his delinquent footwear.

Terror on the Titanic by Samit Basu

Take the Titanic (James Cameron's version, that is, complete with star crossed lovers, wicked moneybags fiance and a priceless jewel)), throw in a rash of aliens, two mysterious agents and a series of imaginative encounters between some or all of the above - and that, pretty much, is Samit Basu's hilarious Terror on the Titanic, first in a series of books about the mysterious Morningstar Agency and its motley crew of employees with singular talents.

Favorite Series

Judy Moody Series by Megan McDonald
Pippi Lambemoze (Tulika)

Books we constantly return to at home are the Judy Moody series,a laugh riot by Megan McDonald, about a girl who is startlingly similar to the Imp, with her unpredictable mood swings, obsession with role models, passion for collecting stuff, and her misadventures with school projects. Also Pippi Lambemoze, Tulika's Hindi translation of the much loved classic Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. The Imp loves her tall tales and wildly exaggerated claims to super strengths.

Favorite Anthology

Diwali Stories (Scholastic)

The anthology is awesome in its variety - many of the shining stars of kid-lit in India have contributed a story and have covered many issues between them - will do a detailed review soon. Highly recommended for an older child.

Favorite Science Fiction

The Beast with Nine Billion Feet by Anil Menon

The Beast with Nine Billion Feet by Anil Menon, also nominated for the VC awards, is a thought-provoking look at an India of the future, bristling with smart tech solutions to practically everything, but also still grappling with that age old issue - the extent to which science should be allowed to tamper with nature. Oh, and idlis will be as universally eaten as ever.

Favorite Graphic Novel

The Secret Science Alliance and the CopyCat Crook by Eleanor David

Much to my surprise, my son does not love graphic novels. He is irritated with the format and he keeps complaining that it is not easy to understand. But, this is one book he devoured with a great enthusiasm. It is a classical story of nerdy kids whose ideas get stolen by a dangerous professor and the three friends plot and retrieve their wonderful inventions back.

Favorite Historical Fiction

The Grasshopper's Run by Siddhartha Sarma

The Grasshopper's Run by Siddhartha Sarma, winner of the Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Best Children's book this year, which follows the adventures of young Gojen Rajkhowa during the Second World War, as he sets out to avenge the death of his best friend at the hands of a vicious colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army.' Grasshopper's is grim reading - troubling in its premise , unflinching in its depiction of violence - yet swept me away with its spare language, meticulous research and its remarkable young hero.

Most Thought Provoking

Singing for Mrs. Pettigrew by Michael Morpurgo

This book is a combination of essays and stories. The essays based on Morpurgo's real life experiences are very thought provoking and inspiring. They definitely make us introspect a little into our own lives. The stories mostly based on the war talk of the ravages that war can cause in people's lives.The stories are very touching and some heart breaking. But I would definitely recommend this book for 10 + years children, since children should know the effects of war and the lasting damages it can leave in the lives of the people. It is these impressionable minds that are going to be the future citizens of our world. What better way to know through well written, sensitive stories. -Ranjani


artnavy said...

What a wonderfully rich collection! Am sure a lot of people can refer to it including me

Arundhati said...

Great, Thank you! :)

Choxbox said...

And it does not even cover a minute fraction of the luscious possibilities! We are all blessed!

Unknown said...

Aw, am I one of the funniest? A great honour, and made my year! Thank you heaps, and Happy New Year!

ranjani.sathish said...

KM, very well compiled and a quick easy-to-refer list of books. The early reading books pointed by you and Utbt, are a big help to me as it will help me pick books for my daughter, when she is ready for it. Thank you !!

Meera Sriram said...

Great round-up! Thanks KM!

Vibha said...

Wow, a great list. Thanks KM.

Anusha said...

All: Thank you for the comments, the list was a team effort, Satish helped a lot in the compilation. Hope you share these books with your kids and enjoy them as much as we did.

Ashok: Your comment always leaves us with a smile! Look forward to more of your creations this year.

Happy New Year, all!

utbtkids said...

Thanks for the compilation K's mom and Satish. Happy new year to you all. Looking fwd to more books on ST.

sandhya said...

A great list. I would root for a few of these too- including "Where's Hanuman", "Singing for Mrs Pettigrew" and the Judy Moody series. Have also put some of the others on my must-read list.
And Chox, please to hand over the Diwali Stories?!:)

Paul said...

Thanks for featuring my book, Ten Terrible Dinosaurs.
I really appreciate that. You can find out more about what goes on behind the scenes at or if your children would like some colouring sheets, then please do visit and look for free downloads.
Happy New Year and a big Roar!!

Praba Ram said...

Crisp writing capturing the crux glazed in different voices, an absolute delight to read! An awesome range of genres.

Thanks, A & S for the time it must have taken to put together this diverse compilation.

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