Sunday, March 27, 2011

On raising a bookworm

The hubby and I both read obsessively so when baby kafkatokindergarten was born, we could barely wait until his eyes had started to focus before we bought cartloads of baby books and started to accost the poor dear with it. I’m happy to report that our plan of action seems successful. At the age of 2, our little bookworm ADORES books. He can be enticed to eat green mush and even submit to face wiping if we dangle a book before him. I never leave home without board books with me in the diaper bag and they have saved my sanity more than once. It makes me giddy with pride and joy to see the boy quoting from his books and lugging them everywhere. Now if we could just keep the TV switched off for another 18 years or so…
          I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite books:
1.       Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr Seuss
A rhyming rollicking book about creatures real and imagined. In here you’ll meet a Gox who likes to box, a Yink who drinks pink ink and a Wump with seven humps.
2.       I Can Read With My Eyes Shut  By Dr Seuss
What a brilliant way to convey the pleasures and benefits of reading to the little ones without lecturing them about it.
3.       Guess How Much I Love You By Sam Mcbratney
A fun and playful book about a Big and a Small Nutbrown Hare and a game they play with each other. So while Big Nutbrown Hare stretches out his big hands wide to show how much he loves the little one, Small Nutbrown Hare claims to love his dad as far as the moon.
4.       Ferdinand The Bull By Munro Leaf
An amusing and sweet tale about a bull that would rather smell flowers than fight a matador. Although I doubt any bull would actually prefer to be poked at in a ring, the book underlines the thought that it’s ok to have dreams that are different from anyone else’s. Besides Ferdinand’s mama cow is awful cute.
5.       The Runaway Peppercorn by Suchitra Ramadurai
This one is set in Kerala and recounts the many adventures of a sprightly little peppercorn who resists all attempts to grind him into chutney. A colorful supporting cast, who are all intent on catching the super-pepper and delightful illustrations make this book a thrilling ride for the young and the not so young alike.

In looking for books for my son to read, I prefer books with more pictures than text and not too complex a story. Too many characters get confusing. Too many descriptions will bore a 2 year old. Dialogues are more fun to read out, especially if you use different voices for each of the characters.

This post is inspired by The Brooding Hen who has a HUGE list of children’s books listed here.
Any other must-have children’s books you would recommend?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday's Favorite Five

Here's my best-of-the-web list for your weekend reading pleasure.

  1. I'm a die hard romantic its true. And yet, this is the soundest relationship advice i've heard. Rabbit Write tells us why you shouldn't marry for love.
  2. Are you a weapon of mass consumption? Inside Out Style tells you how to Avoid the Junk.
  3. Wanna jazz up a plain-Jane white tee? A Pretty Penny makes it look so easy. 
  4. These meatballs look delicious. And the instructions seem doable even for me. Also I just love every, single photo on Noble Pig . Sigh. I guess I wont be starting my diet this weekend after all.
  5. Poignant and thought provoking. The 5 most common end-of-life regrets via Smart Pretty and Awkward.
Wishing everyone a fun-filled weekend.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2 ½ Pillars Of Wisdom - A book review

“The English were very difficult to read; half the things they said were not meant to be taken seriously, but it was impossible, if u were German, to detect which half this was”. Many such hilarious ‘words of wisdom’ are to be found in Alexander McCall Smith’s 2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom. His best known series, “the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency” has many snatches of gentle humor strewn in with the suspense and the softened vignettes of Botswana. However, the 2 ½ pillars… is perhaps the first time the author dives head first into funny land.  And what a dive it is.

      2 ½ … is a trilogy comprised of Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and The Villa of Reduced Circumstances. The novels are about an “unnaturally tall” German professor called Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld. The blurb on the book suggests that he is a bit of Frasier Crane with a dash of Inspector Clausseau thrown in.  Pompous and gauche he may be, but von Igelfeld is also so much more. Gentle and introspective, he is acutely conscious of being fair and truthful always.  He, along with his friend, fellow philologist Prinzel, constitutes 2 pillars of wisdom while the clearly inferior Unterholzer (von Igelfeld’s nemesis) is the 1/2.

             Our hero himself (the author of such esteemed literature as Portuguese Irregular Verbs deserves to be called one) is not really funny. Far from it. He is actually the stereotypical German character who finds jokes perplexing and frivolity revolting. In fact these books are filled with stereotypes of every kind. The holy man from India, the patriarch from Rome, the guerilla revolutionaries from South America and many more. Yet, it is impossible to take offence at any of this because it’s written with such an obvious lack of malice.

        To be honest, this was not one of those books that gripped me from the very first page. It was some time before I could feel any involvement in the protagonist and his world. But then, I had felt something of the sort when I read my first Blandings castle novel.  By the time I was 15 -20 pages in, I was hooked. The Blandings castle analogy is particularly apt because 21/2 pillars does remind me of Wodehouse’s gentle wit and the sublime world he created for us in his books. A world that no longer exists, perhaps never did anywhere in the real world. While I confess I know little about the world of academia, I suspect that von Igelfeld’s idyllic world too exists only in the mind of its creator and is all the more beautiful for it.
          The past week has been a tiring and rather lackluster one for me and I’ve enjoyed escaping into the world of Romance Philology every chance I got. Warm and mellow yet enthralling. This isn’t laugh a minute standup comedy, but I guarantee the smile will never leave your face while your nose is buried in 2 ½ pillars of wisdom.