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The Most Beautiful Thing

What do you like best about your grandmother(s)? I love my maternal grandmother’s wrinkled skin and her gap-toothed smile. I love my paternal grandmother’s, dark, long hair, her hugs and kisses.

The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Khoa Lee is a lovely tale of relationship between a grandmother and her grand daughter.

Young Kalia has two siblings and her family is poor. Her grandmother lives with their family. Kalia takes care of trimming nails of her grandmother. Kalia’s grandmother is a Hmong refugee. She tells her beautiful tales about her childhood in a far away country, spent working hard to gather food from forest and a few unfortunate encounters with a tiger.

Kalia cares for her grandmother. She brings her ice cubes in hot summer, gives her hard peppermint candies and the meaty bone in her soup. Kalia is tired of their poverty, she wants to eat ice cream not ice cubes, meat and not bones and braces for her teeth. When her parents deny, Kalia’s grandmother asks her a question that makes Kalia realize how fortunate she is to have her grandmother.

This book made me feel nostalgic about the days I spent with my grandmothers, the stories they told, the delicious food they cooked and their warmth and smell when I slept beside them.

A beautifully illustrated tale about the relationship between grandmothers’ and granddaughters’.

Category: children’s picture book

Age range: 5-9 years

Election Day tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the Election Day! Do you know how long women fought for the right to vote?

The Voice that Won the Vote by Elisa Boxer (@boxerelisa) gave me an answer to this question. It took about 75 years for women to gain the right to vote. American women could vote since 1920. Since women got married and had kids early in those days, it would be right to say three generations of women fought for women’s suffrage.

The next question is what made society grant women the right to vote ? Why only 75 years why didn’t the struggle get extended to 175 years? We have to thank Febb Burn for that. Febb Burn was the mother of Harry Burn, a Republican member of Tennessee. It was his vote on the 19th Amendment that tipped the scales and passed it so that women could vote. Harry’s mother Febb Burn wrote him a letter urging him to “Vote for suffrage and don’t forget to be a good boy.” He was a good boy indeed. Even though he feared repercussions from his party and society for his decision and voted for women’s suffrage.

Sometimes, as women we take our rights for granted. The right for education, for economic independence and healthcare. But we have to remember that when it comes to women it takes at least 3 generations to bring constructive change. Don’t take your rights for granted, fight for them, protect them and continue to take action. Vote!

Happy Dussehra!

Happy Dussehra! Dussehra is one of the major Hindu festivals that celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

The book, Mimi and Soni discover Dussehra legends by Devika Joglekar (@miheikapublications) tells the Hindu mythological stories that are related to Dussehra. I learned one new Dussehra story by reading this book. This book is from my personal library.

Hope your bellies are full and your home is filled with laughter of near and dear.

Category: children’s picture book

Age: 5+

The Day Saida Arrived

Did you have a friend who did not speak your language? I was not lucky enough to have a friend like that.

The Day Saida Arrived is a beautiful book about friendship, acceptance and immigration. The book is written by Susana Gomez Redondo and illustrated by Sonja Winner. The book tells the tale of friendship between a girl who speaks only English and a Moroccan girl who can speak only Arabic. The girl teaches Saida English and in return she learns Arabic.

It is also a story about how friendship has the power to heal and bring joy. Saida has a tough time living in a new country which has different language and customs but her friend helps her accept the new place.

I loved the below quote from the book:

And we knew that in all languages, there are words as warm as breath and others as cold as metal.

Words that bring together, and words that separate.

Words that cause hurt; words that awaken laughter.

Words that tickle when they are spoken, and others that, when we hear them, feel like a hug.

The Day Saida Arrived is a good book to teach young kids about the power of words and also learn a few Arabic words and alphabets.

Thank you to @netgalley and @bluedotkidspress for the ARC.

Category: children’s picture-book

Age: 3-7

The Mutant Mushroom Takeover

It is that time of the year again. As a Halloween tradition, I pick up a few spooky books in September and October.

The Mutant Mushroom Takeover by Summer Rachel Short(@summerrachelwrites) is a perfect and chilling read for this Halloween.

Maggie is an aspiring young naturalist who lives in Shady Pines with her grandmother and elder brother, Ezra. Maggie’s best friend is Nate, who is a wannabe YouTube Star and alien conspiracy theorist. Maggie’s dream is to win Vitaccino Junior Naturalist Award. Nate has an idea that can make Maggie the winner.

Nate and Maggie go to scary old man Bell’s land and discover bioluminescent fungus. Due to an unfortunate incident, Maggie’s brother, who also joined them inhales spores. Now, his brother is having a cough. Maggie also finds animals sprouting unusual growths and displaying herd behavior. Are all these related? As things gets worse in Shady Pines, it is up to Maggie to make their town safe.

I loved the dynamic between Maggie and Nate, scientific Maggie and weird and unrealistic Nate. The town name of Shady Pines is an apt word for all the happenings in the town. The book also goes in depth about mushrooms, spiders and other critters. We see the world through the meticulous eyes of Maggie. This book takes weird facts in Science and molds it into an interesting and mysterious novel.

Thanks to @netgalley and @simonkids for the ARC. I also purchased a kindle version of this book.

Book category: middle grade

Age range: 9-12

Hair story

I believe that every woman has a story about her hair.

My hair story started when I knew I had hair. As a kid, I protested my hair being cut. The barber used to come to our home and I used to hit the bed and pretend to sleep. In the background, I could hear him saying he will leave because I was sleeping and my mom saying she is just pretending, I will get her. My mom usually won.

When I was close to 10 years, I made my own make-believe hair by strapping towels to my head and sashaying the hair. Finally I won, and I got to grow my hair. Until late teens, I had hair that came to my waist. Every Sunday my mom used to apply oil to my hair and it was tug-of-war, given my hair was curly. I used to scream, ‘Don’t pull my hair’, and my mom used to show how it really felt to pull my hair.

Sometime between Intermediate and early bachelor years, I started cutting my hair. Probably I got too busy with studies or missed my mom’s hair pulling … oiling sessions. Since then I have kept short hair.

During Covid-19, my hair grew again due to lockdown. I finally lost patience and asked my husband to cut my hair and keep it shoulder-length. He obliged because he was afraid I would sabotage my hair if I did a haircut myself. After he cut the hair, he said we can cut it shorter if you want. I looked into the mirror and I was surprised it was short. But, I loved it. I feel like a new person.

What is your hair story?

Julia’s House Moves On

What if your house had a mind of its own? What if your house moved overnight and you woke up to a new scenery every morning? I would love that since I am working from home and travel is limited due to Covid-19.

Julia’s House Moves On by Ben Hatke is a

quirky tale is about Julia’s house. Julia’s house is on top of a mountain and on top of a sea turtle. Her house is home for lost creatures of every kind, a mermaid, goblins and trolls to name a few. The creatures were getting restless so it was time to move. Julia has a plan so that the move is perfect but nothing works according to the plan. Will Julia and her creatures lose their home? What surprises are in store for them?

I loved the illustrations of the lost creatures and the story. It is a whimsical and one of a kind tale. Read and discover if you will love it too.

Thanks to @netgalley and @01firstsecond for the ARC.

Category: children’s picture book

Age: 4-8

Why are you so quiet?

Why Are You So Quiet? by Jaclyn Desforges and illustrated by Risa Hugo Is a book for all the quiet kids.

Mary Louise is a quiet girl who loved quiet places. Her friends asked her why are you so quiet? The class teacher demanded she raise her hand in class to answer a question. Her mom looked at her disapprovingly when Mary Louise read in her room after playing with friends.

Mary Louise is troubled by the question, why are you so quiet? She seeks the help of nature to answer the question.

I loved the soothing illustrations and this gentle story which teaches kids that their friends can have different personalities. Some are naughty and boisterous, whereas some are quiet and observant.

Thanks to @netgalley and @annick_press for the ARC.

Category: children’s picturebook

Age: 4-7

Spooky reads

I have a Halloween tradition. In the months of September and October I read horror/mystery genre books. With the chill in the air, I want to disappear under the blankets and spook myself out. These are the spooky books that I read recently.

The background color indicates the spookiness level

Yellow – mild spooky or gross

Orange – medium spooky

Red – spooky to the max

MG is middle grade, A is adult and YA is Young Adult. Did you read any of these books? What do you think?

When life gives you mangoes

Do you remember the frenemy cycle with your friends? The frenemy cycle includes, having a fight with your friend, not talking to them after that, plotting against them and finally becoming besties again.

When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kerren Getten reminded me of the frenemy cycle. Clara and her friends live in Sycamore, Jamaica. Clara doesn’t remember anything from last Summer when the hurricane hit their seaside town. Her best friend, Gaynah starts acting weird, aloof and shares Clara’s secrets with others. The behavior of Gaynah makes Clara angry. Clara gets into fights with Gaynah which disappoints her parents. The only pleasant thing in Clara’s life is that a new girl comes from New York and becomes Clara’s friend.

This novel seemed simple in the beginning filled with childhood tiffs, role playing games and stealing stuff from other’s garden. As we approach the end, I learned that this novel has a deeper message. This novel is suitable for youngsters who have trouble dealing with unexpected and uncontrollable situations in their lives.

Thank you to @netgalley and @pushkin_press for the ARC.