Poetry in the times of Covid.

Source: Hibiscus: poems that heal and empower
Edited by Kiriti Sengupta | Anu Majumdar | Dustin Pickering


Anju Makhija is a beautiful writer, and has penned a book of poems for children, called Poems Grow With You, available on Flipkart.


Book Review by KidsMustRead.com: The Masterminds

Credit: HarperCollins Publishers

If you are between 9 and 11 years old, here is the perfect mini-series to read during these long summer / monsoon afternoons. The ‘Masterminds’ trilogy written by the New York Times bestseller author Gordon Korman, is a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-novel with an echo of dystopian fiction.

Masterminds is about five thirteen-year-old children who live in Serenity, a small town with 185 residents in New Mexico in America. Serenity is a great, almost utopian (perfect) place to live – there’s zero crime, everyone is well to do, and parents are highly invested in their children. The three Essential Qualities of Serenity citizens – honesty, harmony, and contentment – are drilled into the children who are taught to trust and be truthful at all times. But there’s something strange afoot. While Eli Frieden’s friend, Randy, can leave town, Eli himself feels an inexplicable pain and severe nausea when he tries to step out of city limits. Amber Laska, who loves all things Serenity, stumbles upon a newspaper, USA Today, and is puzzled about why the negative things happening outside of Serenity are not covered in the local newspaper, Pax.

Five children in Serenity – Eli, Amber, Malik, Hector, and Tori – realize that they are somehow different from their peers. As their haven begins to unravel, the children’s questions fuel the answer that will take them on dangerous adventures they never dreamed of. How are the children different? Who is after the children? Will the children manage to break out of this seemingly utopian world? And if they do – what do they do next? Read the book to find out.

For Parents: Starting with the title that has more than one meaning in the context of the story, Masterminds is different from the run of the mill action thriller. Korman’s style of writing is crisp and is more “show, than tell”. For example, we get to know that Eli’s friend Randy (who goads him to cross city limits) is leaving Serenity because, in the next chapter, one of the items on Amber’s checklist is a reminder to make a farewell card for Randy. Told from the shifting points of view of the five children, it allows the reader to hear their varied voices shaped by their attitude to Serenity.

The series has an echo of the brilliant dystopian novel ‘The Giver’ written by Lois Lowry. It makes the reader think about the fundamental question – is nature more important or nurture more important in defining the personality of a child? ‘Masterminds’ is the first book in the series while ‘Masterminds: Criminal Destiny’ is the second book, and the third book that concludes the series is ‘Masterminds: Payback’. The Mastermind series is a fabulous set of stories where the pace of action is maintained in the sequels that finally reach a satisfying ending.


KidsMustRead.com is a website that helps parents to encourage their children to read. The search engine on the website generates a curated list of recommended books that are the right fit for a child’s age, reading level, and interest. The books have been read cover to cover by founder, Priya Iyer, and are vetted for violence and inappropriate content. Kids Must Read does this for you, so your child can have a wonderful and safe reading experience. It is a social enterprise – so all resources are free for parents. Become a member of KidsMustRead.com and help your child discover the Joy of Reading!


KidsMustRead.com’s Book Review: The Bridge Home

‘The Bridge Home’ by Padma Venkatraman is the beautiful story of eleven-year-old Viji and her sister, Rukku who run away to the city of Chennai to escape an angry, alcoholic father. Viji is aware that her younger sister, Rukku, is a child with special needs and is dependent on her. She feels the need to protect Rukku from harm and the ridicule of others. Adrift in a city that is dangerous for children, the two sisters find comfort, and a family of sorts when they befriend Muthi and Arul, orphaned street-smart kids who share their rudimentary shelter on an abandoned bridge with the sisters. The boys teach Viji and Rukku the basics of survival; food is scarce and the job’s not great but the children love the freedom of being financially independent. Things come to a head when a fellow street dweller reveals a clue to their shelter to a man who displays an unhealthy curiosity about the girls. The children know that they have to be alert for danger. Can the children escape from the man? How can Viji, who is a child herself, protect Rukku? How can she fulfil the dream of a better life? Read the book to find out.

While the vulnerability of runaway children, where they could fall prey to violence or abuse is not denied or ignored, the book touches on these issues with a gentle hand. The Tamil words used in the story are not over-explained but instead, the author invites the reader to arrive at their own conclusions as to their meaning. Padma Venkatraman’s writing is peppered with poetic similes that add to the flavour of the book. (“His words felt like a warm ray of sunshine slipping through a rain-soaked sky.”). Interestingly, the book is written in a frame narrative where one sister addresses the other directly, foretelling the possible unfolding of events. One will feel empathy for the plight of children who readers probably see through the partition of glass windows while sitting in their air-conditioned cars. It’s a great book to discuss and understand why some children enjoy privileges while others don’t. ‘The Bridge Home’ is a book that tells the story of resilience and survival and will inspire readers that however bad the circumstances, one can always dream and plan for a better tomorrow.


KidsMustRead.com is a website that helps parents to encourage their children to read. The search engine on the website generates a curated list of recommended books that are the right fit for a child’s age, reading level, and interest. The books have been read cover to cover by founder, Priya Iyer, and are vetted for violence and inappropriate content. Kids Must Read does this for you, so your child can have a wonderful and safe reading experience. It is a social enterprise – so all resources are free for parents. Become a member of KidsMustRead.com and help your child discover the Joy of Reading!


Nature breathes a sigh of relief!

Whale shark spotted in Mumbai during the lockdown – Nature breathes a sigh of relief in Vedanth’s painting- with the backdrop of Sealink and shipwreck underwater.


Vedanth Viswanathan, 8 years old  (Bombay Scottish Mahim)


Book Review by KidsMustRead.com: The ‘New Kid’ on the Block

Priya Iyer is the Founder and Champion of KidsMustRead.com. She will be giving us a book review every fortnight. Here’s the first one!

The ‘New Kid’ on the Block

American author, Jerry Craft, won the Newbery Medal in 2020 for ‘New Kid’. This is the first time in the award’s 100-year history that a graphic novel has won the highest honour in American children’s literature.

New Kid is the story of the struggle of twelve-year-old  African American Jordan Banks as tries to navigate two very different cultural silos (the elite private school which has very little diversity, and his home neighbourhood where he is a middle-class boy), while trying to gain acceptance for being who he is. Jordan also has to balance his parents’ differing expectations of him: he joins the private school at the behest of his mother, who thinks of it as a great opportunity, but his father has reservations about the private school as he is afraid that Jordan might forget his middle-class roots.

At Riverdale Academy Day (RAD) School Jordan deals with several issues: he struggles to make friends, he deals with the subtle and not-so-subtle racism that he and other black members of his school face, and he balks at the automatic assumption that he will be able to relate to stories of black hardship. How Jordan deals with these issues of race, finds friendship and along the way finds himself, is dealt with a light touch of humour and makes for a layered book.

New Kid is a seemingly simple narrative of a complex and multi-layered book starting with the title – initially we think the title refers to Jordan who is the new kid in school but by the end the reader realizes that it refers to Jordan’s character growth. The well fleshed out characters, whether black or white, deal with the grey issues of acceptance in their own unique way. Unlike most books that feature African American characters, where they are shown as coming from broken homes or facing dire circumstances, Jerry Craft’s refreshing protagonist is a boy who has a mom and a dad, a family who loves him, and supportive neighbours. New Kid winning the Newbery medal is an acknowledgment of the golden age of the graphic novel and places the graphic novel format firmly outside the ambit of ‘comics’. It is a must-read for middle schoolers.

Age appropriateness: 10+ years

KidsMustRead.com is a website that helps parents to encourage their children to read. The search engine on the website generates a curated list of recommended books that are the right fit for a child’s age, reading level, and interest. The books have been read cover to cover by founder, Priya Iyer, and are vetted for violence and inappropriate content. Kids Must Read does this for you, so your child can have a wonderful and safe reading experience. It is a social enterprise – so all resources are free for parents. Become a member of KidsMustRead.com and help your child discover the Joy of Reading!


The Wave: In the middle of Seoul!

Check this out!

 

What is this? It is an installation called ‘The Wave’ that has been put up in K-Pop Square in the middle of Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea. They say that K-Pop Square is much like Times Square in New York City, bustling, and filed with lights and action.

Who made this installation? A group called d’strict, that makes content for advertising on billboards and buildings and anything out of the home.

What’s happening in this installation? The installation is made of 31,000 LED panels! It is a video display, which when viewed from a certain perspective, gives the viewer the illusion that this giant wave is going to break through the glass, out onto the square below. This kind of illusion is called an ‘anamorphic’ illusion, where the angle at which the piece is viewed is very important. It looks distorted otherwise. This illusion comes up once an hour and wows everyone around. It also makes a crashing sound as it touches the glass, completing the experience.

Why a wave? The creators felt that a giant wave thrusts nature into our minds and provides us some comfort in these times where so many people are feeling alone, scared and uncertain. Now that’s what we call ‘Gangnam Style’!


Written by: Sunaina Murthy


Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande release a new song, ‘Rain on Me’. Check out the video.


Pop music releases in May 2020

Like everyone around the world, pop stars are trapped in their residences for the foreseeable future. They are finding creative ways to create music videos and engage with their fans. Take a look at these three new releases in May during Quarantine times.

Longtime friends Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande have released their first collaboration ‘Stuck with You’;

The Jonas Brothers and Karol G release the official video for their new song ‘X’;

Katy Perry performs her new song ‘Daisies’ for the first time, using a ‘brand new technology’ to create unreal backdrops

Hope you enjoy these videos!


Manimal Tales: The perfect personalized books for your kids. Check them out!

 

 

We sat down with Sue Donhym (tricky!) to find out the story behind the Manimal Tales. Here’s what the writer had to say:

Where do the Manimal Tales come from and what are they about?
I started writing children’s stories over the past year or so, after my son was born. I love the idea of personalized books and wanted to create an experience for children to feel like they themselves are the heroes of the stories. I also wanted to create books that were fun not just for the kids to read, but also for parents to enjoy as well. Too many of the books I was reading to my son were just not that interesting for me to read.

And so I came up with the Manimals. The Manimals are funny, sassy characters that live happily together in Manimal Forest. However, they keep getting into trouble, and when they do, it’s up to your kid to save them! They have fun names (see the images with this story) and unique personalities to go with them.

Each book is personalised, meaning you can put a child’s name in and choose a character that looks like them, and they become the hero of the story. They’re beautifully illustrated (not by me) and funny (hopefully, me), with life-learning situations for kids.

Very cool! Where can we get these from?

Please check out the books on manimaltales.com. Since we are still in lockdown in India, you can currently get free digital eBook copies of all the books. Test drive them with your kids – or someone else’s! They make great gifts! We are doing international orders on our global site (we ship worldwide from the UK).

 


Katie Bagli is back with a book on Insects! Here’s where you can get it from.

Acclaimed children’s book writer and nature enthusiast Katie Bagli has been busy during this lockdown! Here’s a peek at her new book about insects.

The ebook can be purchased from http://sm-s.in/HERTtKG