Book Review #4: Owl Babies

Author : Martin Waddell

Illustrator : Patrick Benson

Release Year : First published in 1992

Publisher : Walker Books Ltd. (Great Britain)

Age group : 2 – 4 years

Available on : Amazon India

On a tree in the woods,

three baby owls, Sarah and Percy

and Bill, sit and think and wait for

their Owl Mother to come home.

Story –

This is a story of 3 baby owls Sarah, Percy and Bill, who wake up one night to find that their Owl Mother is not there in the nest. The eldest one Sarah tries to think of a scenario that their mother must have gone away for hunting. They wait for a long time.

Even after waiting for long, when their mother does not return, they get scared. Sarah keeps on affirming positively to her siblings suggesting the Owl Mother will come soon, she will bring them mice and other nice things and they should be brave. This sounds comforting to Percy but the little one, Bill, is inconsolable. He keeps on saying “I want my mummy”.

At one point, Sarah and Percy think of their mother getting lost or a fox might have got her. To deal with their fear, they close their eyes and wish their Owl Mother would come.

The mother, later, comes back and the owl babies get excited on seeing her. The mother asks them about the fuss they were making and didn’t they knew she would come back. The story ends on a happy note with the little Bill saying “I love my mummy.

What appealed to me?

  1. The premise of the story of overcoming our fears with positive affirmations.
  2. The solace of the Owl Mother returning at the end is soothing. It ensures a good night sleep for the little ones after the read aloud time.
  3. The illustrations leave a huge impact in terms of creating the night setting with the black background and the white colour of the owl babies who are of different sizes conveying the difference in their ages authentically.
  4. This story can be a starting point for discussing owls for their nocturnal traits with children between 3-4 years age.
Sarah, Percy and Bill waiting for their Owl Mother

What appealed to D?

  1. Bill was his favourite.
  2. He liked to repeat Bill’s lines “I want my mummy” and “I love my mummy” after me. The first one as if wailing and the second one excitedly.

What D questioned?

There were no questions for this book for 2 reasons –

  1. He was a toddler when we read this book, and
  2. He loved this book very much.

My Observation –

The first time when you read this book to the children, the black background in the illustrations depicting the night along with the owl babies frightened that their mother might never come back, both these factors can be daunting for the children. However, the joyful ending makes sure that the little ones will love this book and will go back again and again to have this book read aloud to  them.


This book is a part of my own collection and was received as a gift.

Linking this post with Literacy Musings Mondays #LMM

Book Review #3: The Busy Red Tractor

Author : Anna Claybourne

Illustrator : Jo Moon

Release Year : First published in 2009

Publisher : Caterpillar Books (Great Britain)

Age group : 1 – 3 years

Available on : Amazon India

Chug-a-chug, chug! What is that sound?

A little red tractor, driving around!

One little puppy is ready to go – 

But where’s he off to? Do you know?

Story –

One little puppy drives around in his red tractor. He passes by a farmyard, an orchard, a field, a muddy track, a meadow and over an old stone bridge picking up animals from each place on the way. They are all off to having a big barn party at the end of the day with feasting, dance and fun.

What appealed to me?

  1. Striking colourful illustrations,
  2. Sing-song style of words, and
  3. Lots of sounds used in the book like Chug-chug, Toot-toot, Vroom-vroom, Splish-splash, giving the adults the chance to add sound effects while reading the book aloud to the children.
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The puppy and his friends riding the tractor-trailer

What appealed to D?

  1. He liked the chunky touch-and-feel tractor trailers appearing on every page through the cut-outs.
  2. Listening to the sound effects and repeating them.
  3. Counting the animals as they hopped on to the trailers.

What D questioned?

He liked the book so much that there were no questions about anything.

My observation –

Initially, the plastic tractor-trailer can be disappointing since one might expect it to make some sounds or to squeeze on pressing and it does nothing. Once this little disappointment is overcome, this becomes a delightful read for the little children.


This book is a part of my own collection and was bought from a local bookstore

Linking this post with Literacy Musings Mondays #LMM

Book Review #2: Bioscope

Author : Mamta Nainy

Illustrator : Shanti Devi

Release Year : First published in 2011 

Publisher : Katha (India)

Age group : 5 – 7 years

Available on : Amazon India

Let me take you around my village,

through the narrow lanes shaded by

stooping mango trees and the betel

vines curling on the tall electricity poles!

Story – 

A little girl Champa lives with her mother in a village, near Mithila. One afternoon, she is bored while her mother is taking a nap. In this boredom, she offers to take us around her home and village through her drawings since it is very hot outside to actually step out. She is proud of her drawings because her Ma is all praises for her drawings. She tells us she is learning to paint from her mother and in turn, teaches A B Cs to her mother. 

Enthusiastically, she talks about the stooping mango trees, the 2 squirrels who live on the tree outside her house, the snake who umpires the fights between the 2 squirrels and lives in a hole underneath the tree, the 2 Koyal birds who are sisters living on different trees and who meet each other once in a while, the village well, the choupal where grandpas of the village sit and chat and the sweetseller who frequents in the evenings.

What appealed to me?

  1. The minutest details in introducing the various characters, which only an innocent observation of a child can bring.
  2. Although the story is simple, it is the art work in the illustrations which enhances the appeal of this book. The art work is based upon the Madhubani art form which comes from the Mithila region in Bihar. Madhubani art is talked about in detail towards the end of the book.
  3. The book does a fine work of generating interest in the richness of folk culture and traditional art forms of India. 
  4. Revisiting the Hindi names of the months of the year with dedicated Alpana designs for each of the months at the end of the book.

What appealed to D?

  1. To know Mithila was the birth place of Sita, one of the pivotal characters from the epic, Ramayana.
  2. The interesting names of the squirrels, the snake and the Koyal and their playful antics.
  3. He had fun spotting and identifying the little objects, items and characters in the illustrations

What D questioned?

  1. Details about Nagapanchami Puja (mentioned in the story). Why snakes are worshiped for this festival? Why are they fed with milk when they eat rats?
  2. The meaning of the underlined phrase in the line –  ‘You must have heard of Mithila. I live in a village just a few miles shy of Mithila.’

This book is worth a read to give the city bred children a peek into the simplicity of life in an Indian village and enabling them to discover our rich culture and traditional art forms. 

 

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Have a look at one of the illustrations from the book. What all can you see in this picture?

 


This book is a part of my own collection. I received this book as a part of the monthly book subscription box from Enchantico.

Linking this post with Literacy Musings Mondays #LMM

BookReview #1: When Dad showed me the Universe

 

Author : Ulf Stark

Illustrator : Eva Eriksson

Release Year :

Swedish Edition: First published in 1998

English Edition: First Published in 2015

Publisher : Bonnier Carlsen (Sweden) / Gecko Press (USA)

Age group : 4 and up

Available on : Amazon India

One day Dad said he thought I was old

enough for him to show me the universe.

“Where is it?” I asked

“Not too far,” he said.

Story –

This is a story told by a little boy whose father takes him to see the universe one evening after calling it a day at his dental clinic. Once ensuring they are warm enough to go out, they walk around the neighbourhood with the boy quizzing his father about the universe all through the way. They finally reach on a small hill outside the town where people usually walked their dogs. When the father tells the son “This is it” and asks him to see around, the boy looks around and is taken by the beauty of the universe around him in the form of a snail creeping on a stone, a blade of grass swaying in the wind and a flower named thistle.

His father asks him to look up at the sky instead of looking down. The boy discovers thousands of stars burning in the sky which, to him, seemed like specks of dust in the living room in the sunlight. His dad tells him the names of the stars – Little Bear, Scorpion, The Big Dog etc, and how calm it makes one feel because it is so big that everything else seems small. Just then the father goes quiet. He tries to figure out the mystery about the stinky smell coming from the ground beneath. With the boy solving the mystery, the father’s enthusiasm veers of and they return home. At home, the mother asks the boy how was the universe to which he replies beautiful and funny.

What appealed to me?

  1. The father-son bonding. The boy trusts his father completely and the father is earnest in wanting his son to have an experience matching his own.
  2. The father’s profound thoughts about the universe.
  3. The fact that there can be several interpretations based upon this story like – The universe can be as close to us as it can be far. It can entail the smallest of objects as well as the vast night sky. It can be comprised of a fewer things as well as the numerous stars and other heavenly bodies. Also, sometimes, while we are invested in looking up at the bigger picture, it is also important to have a look down because we never know what we step upon.

What appealed to  D?

  1. He loved the father figure in the story and the chit-chat between the father-son duo.
  2. Getting to know a few facts about the universe.
  3. The funny stinky ending. While the adult in me gaped at the abrupt ending to the magical experience, D enjoyed it. The ending makes the book interesting and enjoyable for the kids.
  4. The lovely illustrations. You can have a quick glance at the book here.

What D questioned?

  1. The meaning of the word ‘Solemnly’ from the story.
  2. Why did they have to go out of the town to look at the stars for stars can be seen from everywhere?

An Observation

An adult and a child approach things in a manner different from each other. Instead of calling the boy’s own contemplation of the universe on the ground as silly, the parent in me  feels it would have been more appropriate to appreciate his observation before turning his gaze upwards to the sky. Because, later when the boy is not able to see the stars in the same way as his father and wants to say no, he instead agrees since he does not want to be called silly again.

Barring this one concern, this book scores high on creativity on account of the blending of philosophy and humour, suited for both adults and children alike, and illustrations by the Astrid Lindgren prize winner Eva Eriksson.


This book is a part of my own collection and was bought from a local bookstore.

Linking this post with Literacy Musings Mondays #LMM