Thursday, December 29, 2011

Much-loved Books 2011: Part 1

As I was sifting through the highlights of 2011, focusing on replaying the treasured memories and weeding out the not-so-pleasant ones, it occurred to me that many of the wonderful moments involved reading with my kids. And, if I were to zero in on one book, and only one book, that each of my kids enjoyed reading the most this year, what would the two books be?

That was the inspiration for this post. I decided to ask our beloved ST family to pick one book that their child(ren) enjoyed the most - a book that possibly had the most impact, perhaps became an all-time favorite, or maybe just a book that came into their hands at the right time.

And thanks to their enthusiastic response, I have a wonderful set of books to share, which I am splitting into two posts so as to not overwhelm - part 1 here, and part 2 to follow.

Artnavy's picks:

The Zlooksh
by Dominique Demers
Translated by Sarah Cummins
Illustrated by Fanny

Zachary, a normal enough boy, shuttles easily into a world of make belive. His teacher sets the class a task- to draw their favourite animal. And Zachary gets busy. He lets his imagination fly and Zlooksh seems to be a figment from just that. Or is it? Read the book and you will know.

The story and the illustrations tickled Anushka, my six year old and for a while she was churning out imaginary animals after she read the book.

Picture source

Curly and straight
by Radha HS
 illustrated by Ruchi Shah from Pratham

My two year old thinks she likes being read to. She will usually ask for us to read and grab the book back midway, to indulge in her own mock reading of the book. This was the book she actually sat through , pointing at the pictures and at her own curly hair. So it holds a special place for us.

Picture source

The Mad Momma's picks:

Izzy the Lizzy
Author: Renee Riva
Illustrator: Steve Bjorkman
Publisher: Waterbrook Press

 Age: 4+

 A book that brought much joy to adults and kids alike this year was Izzy the Lizzy. Written in the most subtle verse, Izzy the Lizzy is about a lonely lizard who sets out to explore the beauty of the bog one rainy day. There she espies a delicious looking spider. Just as she is about to attack her, she realizes the spider is actually eyeing a bee for its next meal. What follows is a delightful treatise on the virtue of mercy, told in a way that children will appreciate.

The verse is beautiful and the watercolour illustrations an absolute pleasure to behold. Told clearly and simply it’s a great lesson for kids without being moralizing. A book we return to almost every week at bedtime.

The Owl and The Pussycat
Author: Edward Lear (additional verse by Angela McAllister)
Illustrator: Kevin Waldron
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Age: 4+

An old favourite, this one has made a comeback with shiny new illustrations and additions to thestoryline. Again, written in verse this tale is of the love of an owl and a pussycat who go to sea in a beautiful pea green boat. Children love the rhyming words, the rhythm when it is recited and the absolute lack of boundaries to imagination as the owl and pussycat set sail with only some honey and money to their name.

The additional verse by Angela McAllister fits in perfectly and gives you that little more you tend to crave when something good comes to an end. The attention to detail is breath taking and it's a particular joy to me to know that my childhood favourite now holds pride of place on my children's bookshelf.

Anusha's pick:

Touchdown Mars! 
 by Peggy Wethered
illustrated by Michael Chesworth

Ages 4+

In 2011, the resident 6yo spent a considerable time dreaming up living on another planet. What would it be like for the very first human adventurers to step on an uninhabited alien land? What fundamentals of existence that we take for granted here would they have to plan and pack for?

Touchdown Mars! couples imagination with scientific facts offering just enough to feed and inspire a child's inquisitiveness. The vivid watercolor illustrations contrast the bright orange color of the Martian landscape against the stark white of the space suits, and the beauty of Martian sunrise and sunset are captured in picture clarity. We read this several times in the year and learned one new fact about Mars each time.

 [image source:]

Vibha's picks:

The Caterpillar Who Went On A Diet and other stories
Author : Ranjit Lal

How could anyone not want to pick a book whose title goes like this… 'The Caterpillar Who Went On a Diet'? And the best part is, this book is a hilarious treasure box of not one but 14 humorous stories by none other than the great expert on huge array of fauna - Ranjit Lal. All the characters are funny insects and the stories are like a beautiful and delicious spread of all flavours in front of you. The more you savor, the more you are cajoled by them to try further...

Ranjit Lal has shared his deep research of insects through playful storytelling. The fat caterpillar Nimbu who is inspired and challenged by a stick insect to go on a diet for a delicate slim figure, the Cheeni Chor ant who discovers a well stocked refrigerator and gorges on lip smacking goodies, the Dung Beetle Dhamaka and many other such hilarious characters are sure to leave the readers in splits.

How Not To Babysit Your Brother
Author : Cathy Hapka and Ellen Titlebaum

Will's little brother Steve is quite a handful to manage. Once in the absence of their mother and  grandmother drifting off to sleep, Will gets to babysit his kid brother. While he is trying to keep Steve busy so that he gets uninterrupted time to play his video game, he inadvertently learns many lessons about what not to do when on the job like this.

Many funny incidents and accidents  are sure to happen in such situations and kids would love reading through Will's struggle to keep Steve out of trouble. The lively illustrations and endearing facial expressions of the brothers will  keep the readers glued to the book till the very last page.

utbt's picks:

Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!! (Mudpuddle Farm)
 By Michael Morpurgo

Farm. Farmer Rafferty. Farm animals that talk. Mossop the very old lazy cat. Mice menace. Mossop about to get kicked out from the farm. All animals come up with an ingenious plan to save Mossop. Fun. Loved it! Highly recommend it!

Hop On Pop
By Dr.Seuss

This book has a special place in our house. It was the first book read by my older child and it is the first book WILLINGLY read by the second child, who in general does not like to read. Now that she has figured out that she can replace the first letter sound and read the next word, she is making up new rhymes! Joy!

 [image source:, wikipedia]

My picks:

Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein

Ages 4+

The tattered old hardbound book, full of memories and character, a hand-me-down from her dad, was the one most often chosen from the bookshelf by the six year old at bedtime. It is one of my favorites as well as I am partial to poetry.

From Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout to Unicorn, Yipiyuk to Afraid Of The Dark, Sick to Crocodile's Toothache, this book is full of the absurd, the funny, the weird, and the charming, making for a delightful and amusing read, anytime, every time, as evidenced in our house.

Poems, poems, poems! That's what the 6 yo gravitated towards in 2011.

Flap Your Wings
by P.D. Eastman

Ages 4+

Reading this book was almost an obsession with the 3.75 year old. Every night at bedtime, for about 5 weeks, among the stack of 4 books for the bedtime-read carefully chosen by the pre-schooler, was nestled this irresistible volume.

A little boy walks along a path; he finds an egg without a nest; he finds a nest without an egg; he promptly puts the two together. And thus stars this wonderfully rooted story with Mr. and Mrs. Bird providing the comic and the heart-warming.

While the profound concepts of the nest getting crowded and the young one learning to fly away on his own are lost on the little one, it is an equally amusing book at face-value: from the time the enormous egg hatches and we find out the "baby bird" is a crocodile till the end when "Junior" (as he is fondly called by the Birds)  desperately flaps his "wings" clumsily all the way down to the water below... and swims elegantly, feeling at home, the book entertains and provokes giggles.

[image source:, book search]


rajalakshmi kannan said...

I am a regular reader of this blog. Love ST very much. Also purchased some books from flipkart after reading the review in this site. My daughter likes Grandfather's Journey
by Allen Say

& Crow boy
Both books are close to her. We had many repeated reading of these two books. one more is mama panya pancake.

Happy new year to all ST team and readers.

Expecting more books in 2012.


sathish said...

Thank you Raji for dropping by. Happy new year to you too.

Crow boy is always a great favourite for every one in our family.

And Allen Say - he is amazing.

Choxbox said...

Delish books all!

Have a special soft spot for any book by Ranjit Lal - and the Caterpillar one is a super-duper cool one indeed.

does i doser work said...

Nice collection....i like all.....Thanks for it...

Vidya said...

Wonderful list for me to come back to.. I picked The Owl and The Pussycat just 2 weeks back for my son and we are enjoying reading it:) Any list on what the older kids (8+) loved reading?

sandhya said...

So many of our own favourites here!

Choxbox said...

@Vidya: The Ranjit Lal will work wonderfully for a 8-yr old.
More favorites coming up, so watch this space!

Sheela said...

Owl and the Pussycat is our favorite too - we have Jan Brett's illustrations. We'd love to check out other releases of this book.

Choxbox said...

@Sheels: We have three Jan Bretts - Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel and The Mitten. Love her illustrations - esp'ly the borders which is such a unique feature of her style.

Kavade said...

You guys are awesome!! helps me pick up meaningful books for my 4 & 6 yr olds. Have a fabulous 2012.

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