Posted in Kid lit book reviews

The Manic Panic #KidLitbookreview 14

It is a normal sort of a day in your house until…
“What’s wrong with the Wi-Fi?” Mommy howls.
“It’s DOWN!” Daddy hollers.
“Good riddance!” Nannu smiles.

Story –

The Manic Panic is a story of a day in the life of a normal family. Everything was going on as usual with the father cooking a meal with a phone held in one hand, the mother sitting on the couch with a bowl of something to eat in the hand and a laptop on the lap, the daughter hanging upside down from the couch reading a book and a grandma, Nannu, doing a headstand. Very normal, you may say. And, then a dreadful thing happens. The wi-fi stops working and all hell breaks loose for the parents. They get cranky and fidgety while the daughter makes all kinds of plans to spend the day outside the home in the park or cycling or having a picnic.

After a lot of whining, the parents actually start having fun. The twist arises when the same daughter, who dragged her parents out to discover plenty of possibilities, goes back to her room at the end of the day and finds the wi-fi is still not working. Now, it is her turn to become fidgety because she has a book report to finish and she cannot.

There is someone who knows the secret why the wi-fi connection got cut. However, who is that someone is not the question.

My Review –

What worked for me –

  • The cover page design – One cannot help but notice the wi-fi sign replacing the dot over the letter ‘i’ in the words Manic Panic. This was highly creative. The image of a small girl pulling and dragging two grownups is intriguing and compelling enough to open the book and read the story.

 

  • The illustrations by Mithila Ananth are simple and the colors are soothing for the eyes. The illustrations play an important role here in this story. They are not limited to the text but take the narrative forward and are also capable of telling the story independently.  This is one of those books where the illustrations are not there because the book is meant for kids but because the storytelling needs them.

 

  • The story by Richa Jha is unique. You may have noticed the characters playing the not-so-stereotypical roles in the family. Wherever the father figure is shown cooking or taking care of children independently, with or without the mother present in the same frame, it gets a notch higher for me. The grandma, Nannu, is also not the usual old lady holding and moving around with prayer beads in her hands but instead, she is shown doing a headstand and riding a motorbike. Now, how more unique and interesting can it get. This story also questions a big stereotype where it talks not about screen addiction in children but in grownups. All of us, as grownups and as parents, are used to blame the children for their addiction to screen. We often talk about how difficult it is to push the children out of the house to indulge in physical play and flex those muscles. In this way, what we forget is we are equally at folly with our screen addiction and which can bother our children too.

What did not work for me –

The ending left me confused to some extent since why will a small girl need a computer (and thus a wi-fi) to finish her book report. Or was it symbolically used to establish internet is not all that bad but is also useful in many ways, sometimes making us completely dependent on it? Being a blogger, I am dependent on the internet. Hence, I would like to believe the ending is subject to interpretation.

My verdict –

If you are the one who, like me –

Tries hard to keep the smartphones and iPads away?

Struggles to keep screen addiction at bay?

Likes to question stereotypes?

Likes to read and watch stories that break stereotypes and want to give your child a slice of such stories?

Then this book by Richa Jha and Mithila Ananth is just right for you and your child to read together.

Author – Richa Jha

Illustrator – Mithila Ananth

Release Year – First published in May 2018

Publisher – Creston Books (USA), Pickle Yolk Books (India)

Age group – 5 – 9 years

Available on – Amazon India

Note: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon India. This means: if you buy this book by clicking on the links given above, I will earn a small reference money at no additional cost to you which will go in maintaining this site. Thank you.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Kid lit book reviews

Book Review #12 : The Cheesecake Thief and Other Stories

Rini and Ruby are sisters.

They get mad at each other all the time,

but they love each other.

Things get complicated when a cheesecake disappears…

Author – Sudesna Ghosh

Release Year – 2017

Age Group – 7 – 14

Available on – Amazon India

Story –

The Cheesecake Thief and Other Stories book is a collection of 3 short stories based in a town named Golepur in West Bengal, India. The stories are told alternately by 2 kid sisters – Rini and Ruby. Rini is the older one and Ruby is the younger one.

Story #1 – The Cheesecake thief

Ruby loves eating cheesecakes. Rini loves baking them. It happens when Rini is baking a cheesecake at school for a baking competition, it gets stolen from right under everyone’s noses while it is kept aside for cooling down. Not a soul knows who is the culprit. Rini blames Ruby for stealing the cake because she knew Ruby could go to any extent for a cheesecake. However, Ruby is not the thief and being wrongly blamed, she resolves to catch the thief herself.

In the process, she starts with sniffing around herself. Then she employs the services of the smartest neighbourhood stray dog, Lallu, who is supposedly an expert at sniffing out lost stuff. When this does not work, the local newspaper office’s services are hired.

In the end, was she able to find out the thief? Or whether she was really the one who had stolen the cheesecake and just diverting people’s attention with her gimmicks?

Story #2 – Home Alone Together

One fine sunny day, Rini and Ruby are left alone at home when their parents had to go out suddenly for an emergency. Rini, unable to stand her sister, spends most of the day to herself in her room while Ruby reads her books in the other room. The day later turns stormy with sounds of loud thunder. Rini steps out after a long time and gets petrified when she does not find Ruby anywhere. After a great deal of searching and feeling guilty for neglecting her small sister, she finds her in a distraught state hiding in a cabinet.

What had happened to Ruby? Did the 2 sisters come closer after this episode?

Story #3 – RiRu joins the family

While Ruby is wondering about happiness and why is she different from other children, a random dream leads Ruby to hear the meows of a cat one night. A cat lands up on their doorstep while the world is sleeping. She and her family take the cat in and adopt it as a pet. The girl’s name it RiRu. What follows is the girls’, especially Ruby’s, growing understanding of the nuances of tending to a pet cat. There is a pet sharing framework devised by their mother for the girls which of course has funny incidents owing to the never-ceasing sibling rivalry. The sisters come together when RiRu disappears one night when it was Ruby’s turn to keep it in her room.

Was RiRu found? Or did it go away just like the night it had suddenly appeared?

My Review –

What worked for me –

  1. Both Rini and Ruby, though they are kids, are quite strong characters. The distinctness in their personalities comes out clearly in the stories. It is not clear how old both of them are exactly or in which class they are, but the fact that Rini is in a perpetual state of being irritated and annoyed gives an idea of her being a teenager. Ruby is the smart one and appears to be more sorted. She is the reason for most of the humour and funny anecdotes and there are plenty of such anecdotes to keep the reader constantly in splits.
  2. There are a few nuggets of wisdom hidden in the stories which might help in shaping up the minds of the young readers. For example –“Being different is not easy, Ruby. People have trouble understanding you BUT what is important is that YOU are happy.”
  3. The theme of all the 3 stories is detective in nature with something or someone getting lost in each of them and thus appropriate for the curious and adventurous little minds. It should be fun watching them donning the imaginary Sherlock Holmes cap and thinking who, how and where with every twist and turn.
  4. Stories for children should be light, amusing and enjoyable. This book has tons of laughter-inducing moments weaved into simple plots and this keeps the interest alive and kicking.

What did not work for me –

There is a lot of self-talk going on in Rini’s and Ruby’s minds which is fine since it gives us a peek into their personalities and thought process, yet I felt it went slightly overboard and repetitive in terms of conveying the message. A cut here and there would not have affected the character building or the overall story.

I loved all the 3 stories although ‘RiRu joins the family’ is my favourite. It is the perfect story to wrap up the book in this 3 story collection. It made me want to go back to the beginning once again and start the book all over again. And I did this because I did not feel like severing my ties with the girls. I am sure kids will definitely take a liking for this book. D will surely do. The only hitch is this book is available in Kindle form whereas this book will work best for children in a paperback edition with a few funky illustrations.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.