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Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review : 'Moongphali' by Neha Singh and Mukesh Chhabra; Illustrations by Sonal Gupta Vaswani

Moongphali’ is a witty and humorous collection of stories, which has been written by Neha Singh and Mukesh Chabbra. I have never forgotten the only time was in a fancy dress competition. 'Dress up as Santa Claus', said my teacher! And so, there I was with a big beard and a whole load of gum dripping from my face. I do not remember how I did it, but the first prize was mine. 

So, I was very interested in this book, where Nandu dresses up as ‘The Watermelon God’ by Neha Singh. So, in his green ‘melony’ costume, Nandu sets off to school. But the poor boy, who wanted to be a king instead, misses out on the costume. So, he decides to skip school. And the adventures, he gets into are comical to read. Read this one, to discover what happens and say, all ‘Hail the Lord of Watermelons’.

This story is followed by Mukesh Chhabra’s ‘The Perfect Doll’. Sneha was gifted a ‘Tennis Doll’, with a black beauty spot. It was a wonderful sight, until her friend spots it, and calls it a defect in the doll. Dejected, Sneha got rid of the doll, by throwing it away in a drain. Then begin the doll’s adventures, since it was found by a boy, who then and later has a car run over it and then has a few stray cats and even a few rats have at it. 

The rest of it goes off in finding out that Sneha’s friend, Mallika finds and keeps the doll. And the loving care she gives to the tennis doll, and the fact that a small, cool looking tennis court is up in her house.

The book runs into other stories by both these authors, which are fun to read and adventurous and mysterious too. So, we have Poonam’s fancy chappals, Hanur’s mysterious stones, and then we have a hundred rupee note, and a happy day, and double trouble, complete with Lalita’s gift!

The two authors have written an enjoyable book to read up on a holiday, complete with cool stuff to make at the end of every chapter. Only one point is that in the story, ‘A Happy Day’, is that the spelling of dinosaurs is misspelled as ‘dinasours’. Sonal Gupta Vaswani, who is the illustrator, has done an excellent job with the drawings, to see it complete.

You can Buy the Book, right here

Friday, August 04, 2017

Author Interview : Priyanka Talreja Garegrat, author of ‘Kitten the Dog’

Priyanka Talreja Garegrat
Read up, the Interview with Priyanka Talreja Garegrat, author of 'Kitten the Dog'. In this interview, she tells us, how the entire book first began, what gave her the core idea, how the main characters came about, the most challenging part of the story, what she thought was different about her book, how did the element of the dog trying to meow come about, her favourite authors and books, and much more, Folks…

How did ‘Kitten the Dog’ begin? Could you describe the journey?

One day, I had gone to meet my cousins and there I saw that they had adopted a newborn pug. I asked them if they had to take any precautions, and they happened to mention that because he was so low and close to the ground, he was more prone to infections, so they had to be mindful about where they take him.
And that is how my protagonist came about. I started to wonder what it would be like to be so small and look at the world from that point-of-view. Then I wondered what would happen if this small dog got mistaken for a kitten. And that was the birth of 'Kitten the Dog'.

How did you come up with the core idea and develop it? 

Once I decided that I wanted to explore this idea further, I started to make a skeleton with chapter names. I would write a one-line brief for each chapter.

But all through my journey, what helped me the most was the fact that I had started with the end in mind. So, I knew where I was going. I just needed to fix on the route.

How did the characters, Margi, her father, Kitten and the pet thief come about?

I must admit that I take great inspiration from real life. And Margi and her Dad are a result of just that. I knew of a girl like Margi who had to face a big loss at a very young age. I saw how she tried to deal with it. I observed her journey and realized she grew to be fairly independent. And these traits helped me build Margi and Dad.

Kitten and the pet thief on the other hand have been completely cooked up in my head. When I was writing down their characters, I too was shocked to see how they were turning out. I did not know them till I wrote them down.

What according to you is different about your book?

To be honest, I feel everything is different. Right from the illustrations, to the voice of the book. All have been presented in a very fresh way. But apart from those basics, I feel Kitten has touched upon a pressing issue that some preteens have to go through, which is the loss of a parent.

This book also highlights the huge role that social media plays in the lives of children today. And lastly, this book has a mystery that is waiting to be solved as well. These factors make Kitten different when compared to the other books currently on the shelves.

How did the story, especially Kitten and him trying to meow come about?

Kitten tries to meow because of Margi. And that is a reflection of Margi’s state of mind.

And as I mentioned earlier, her behavior reflects her coping mechanism, which is the underlined message for the readers.

What was the most challenging part about writing the book?

The writer’s block. At one point, the story was just not moving forward and I had to force myself to write which resulted in utter crap that I had to scrap. 

This way I ended up scrapping three story lines before I fixed on this one.

When will your next book be out?

Right now, I have numerous ideas, but I am not working on a book. So, it might be a while before we see the next one.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author you are today?

My Dad was the one who kept telling me time and again to write a book. I would just keep brushing it off by telling him it was not that easy. Then one day, after being told for the thousandth time, I started believing that maybe if I did try, I could do it. 

And without much thought, I just decided to go ahead and see what happens if I do complete a manuscript. In the end, I realized that all efforts always pay off.

Which are your favourite books and why?

My favourite books are the trio from the Hunger Games series because there is just so much happening in them and it is all so unpredictable. The pace of the narrative is just perfect and there is never a dull moment.

Who are your favourite authors and why?
Suzanne Collins

JK Rowling, George RR Martin, Suzanne Collins – these are among my most favourite because of the kind of worlds they have been able to imagine and build.

Now that I have written a book, I understand just how difficult fiction writing is and have newfound respect for these authors. 

What else do you do on a daily basis? 

I am a content-writer as a full-time professional. I write and curate content for a successful jewellery portal and also take up freelance articles, stories for print and digital media.

You can  Read the Review, too and Buy the Book, here as well.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Book Review : 'A Rule Breaker's Club Adventure : The Dog who wanted More' by Sowmya Rajendran

­I woke up this morning expecting to read a book. And so, I did, it was a Rulebreakers’ Club Adventure, titled ‘The Dog who wanted More’. Sowmya Rajendran wrote it wonderfully, with apt illustrations provided by Arun Kumar Kaushik. That basically, was what caught my eye. 

Two young girls, Keerti, who is a WWE aficionado, and Monica who is an adventure seeking young woman, followed by kind of scared Jagannathnan, who apparently is the so-called godfather or leader of the group, and Rishi, the class topper with the wanna be TV star, Tejas.

The five of them seem to be rather bored of everything, especially their parents. Their parents ‘seem to be’ rather strict, who believe that they need to be kept under control since they are only 13 years old.  But, the kids have a plan up their sleeve.

Firstly, they should have a dog, because the ‘The Famous Five’ did. So, the 5 of them, look to kidnap a dog, though one thing I did not get was why not just get a street dog? But these guys are for the more trendy pug, called Spike, which lives on the neighbouring street. So, Rishi draws up a plan or well, types in a plan on an Excel sheet.

So, Monica and Tejas set out to meet the security guard of the mansion, where Spike lives. They con him into believing their made up tale, that they need the dog, temporarily for the project they are taking up. Now, Spike is in their ‘custody’.

So the dog is taken to Rishi’s grandmother’s house, which is the kids’ headquarters, ‘btw’. Each of them had decided to take turns to feed and clean him. So, it was Keerti’s turn, and that day she walks into Rishi’s grandmother’s house, to find her deep in prayer.

The old lady, who is thinking that the deep snores she had heard all night could only, be her late husband’s. Keerti, who opens the door where they had kept the dog, cons grandmother, into believing that this was what her husband had reincarnated into. Quite happy with the whole issue, the grandmother takes on full responsibility of the dog, even taking it for walks.

Now, the pug is not an easy dog to handle. The food it eats and the drool it leaves behind is amazing. The dog could be a pain, and also Keerti, notices that a policeman had seen the dog with grandmother and walked away, rather suspiciously.

So, the five could be in trouble, and decide to return the dog. But can they do it without arousing suspicion? Will they manage to tell grandmother, a story to get the dog out? And how will they steer clear of the policeman?

You can Buy the Book, right here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Review : 'Kitten the Dog' by Priyanka Talreja Garegrat

Read up, Priyanka Talreja Garegrat’s ‘Kitten the Dog’, which is a delight for children, especially those who have a thing for pets! At a pet shop, where a band of cats, dogs, hamsters, turtles, frogs, mice and even snakes rule the roost, comes a man, looking for a pet.

Now funnily enough, he is looking for a dog that looks like a cat for his daughter. The pet shop owner suggests a tiny chihuahua, which is happily bought and taken home. At his home, the man’s daughter, Margi, who was originally expecting a cat, seems kind of disappointed with the whole affair. But the man explains that this delightful breed of dogs is the tiniest of dogs and found in Mexico.

Reluctantly, Margi decides to force the dog to be a cat, and takes it into the ‘teawee’ room, where she puts on a channel called Cat TV. The dog, which is now called Kitten, is made to watch all kinds of cat programmes, all day. The confused puppy, though understood that Margi had been left motherless, decided to meow for her sake. Kitten would keep on trying, but was never quite there yet.

One day, Kitten manages to get out of the house, because he was told by his mother to do so, whenever he felt the need to chase cars. So, he manages to go out onto the highway. The poor fellow is picked up by a couple of cops, who feel sorry for the dog. The two cops, who are chasing after a pet thief, are now put out of action because the pet thief throws a knife at the cops’ car’s glass.

So, currently out of action, they go down to the station, and keep the pup in their care. The pup is put in an adoption drive, which the police decide to have to return the pets that they have found. The pet shop owner, who claims that the chihuahua is his comes to the station and asks for the dog. But the chihuahua does not want to go, due to the ill treatment he was always given at the shop.

Will Kitten be given away to this guy? Will the pet thief ever get caught? Incidentally, will Margi, who put out an advertisement for her missing dog, find him? Also, would the reader try and understand the uncertainty of a child, who only has a father and her trials to convert her cat into a dog?

The illustrations by Archana Rajagopal are endearing and so adorable that you might even consider getting a pet. Link them all and solve this mystery, Folks…

You can Buy the Book, right here.