YOUNG READERS AHOY!
The Monsoons have snuggled in, the earthworms are out. With schools back in session, the bookworms have surfaced too! The familiar scents of morning assembly, reunions and afternoon uproar of freshly arrived youth, games period, and extra-curricular energy all mix with the thirsty pleasures of non-school reading! Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, one of the subcontinent’s leading literary experts and critics for Young Adults literature, takes out time to compile for us, the 15 top titles in YA fiction for all those just arrived bookworms between the ages 12-21 years! The rest of us will, needless to say, get enticed by many of these Rainy Reads as well…
Youth Literature Critic and Reviewer
Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, an independent publishing and editorial consultant and critic, has guest edited the special Children’s and YA Literature of The Book Review and produced the first comprehensive report on the Indian Book Market for the Publisher’s Association, UK. Having worked with Zubaan, Routledge and Puffin, her numerous articles, interviews and book reviews have appeared in Frontline, The Book Review, DNA, Outlook, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, LOGOS, Business World, and Muse India. Today as a literary director of Siyahi, Jaya identifies and guides the next generation of India’s Writing Talent.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
BULLIES AND CHEATING, PLAYS AND PRANKS It’s bumpy ride over the ups and downs of school life! Vikrant, the fat mama’s boy, is mercilessly bullied by his schoolmates; Pratap is tempted to cheat in his exams; Gita wants to act in the school play, but cannot overcome her stammer…. The joys and traumas of school life are explored with humour and sensitivity in this collection of short stories by mobilizer, performance storyteller and children’s writer with a world record, Paro Anand.
2. Faces in the Water by Ranjit Lal – Penguin India (Print Price: Rs. 199, Our Price: Rs 180/-)
What do you do when you discover an unspeakable truth about your parents? The Diwanchand family boasted of having all sons, no daughters. They owed this good fortune, to a magical well in their farmhouse. One day, fifteen-year-old Gurmi sets out in search of this well. What he finds, changes people’s lives forever. Inside the well, the faces of three girls look up at him from the water, drawing him into a crazy netherworld of games and cyber magic. What terrible crimes have been committed behind the walls of the rambling Diwanchand family home? Will Gurmi and the ghost-girls be able to avenge the evil that has taken place and prevent yet another unspeakable atrocity from occurring? Funny, yet sensitive and immensely powerful, Faces in the Water is the story of lives lost to appease our society’s insatiable hunger for male children, and the price families pay for its sake.
3. Potion of Eternity by Sonja Chandrachud Published – Penguin Books (Print Price: Rs. 199, Our Price: Rs 170/-)
A Transylvanian vampire and top secret agent for Wizard Organization Worldwide (WOW), has been given a mission to die for… Dubbed the ‘Desi Rowling’ in The Times of India, Sonja deftly brews up fantastical tales filled with magic, mayhem & mischief inspired by her experiences in Africa, Middle East and America. Published by Penguin Puffin India, Potion of Eternity & Pearls of Wisdom are the bestselling books in the much loved Hilarious Hauntings Adventures series. The magical Potion of Eternity, which will grant great powers to the children of a couple who drink it together, has been spiked by the Black Magi during the Great Wedding of the Oriental Sorcerer, Dead Lee and the Enchantress of the Deep, Abyssinia. Instead of declaring undying love, the two sorcerers go off the deep end, whipping up tsunamis, unleashing the Slimy Poaching Agency and threatening to rip the Sorcery World apart! Time is now running out, the Count must concoct the Antidote and brew a fresh lot of the Potion before all hell breaks loose in the Sorcery World. But all this must be done undercover…
4. The Grasshopper’s Run by Siddharth Sarma – Bloomsbury Publications (Print Price: Rs. 199, Our Price: Rs 170/-)
Winner of the Vodafone Crosswords Award 2009, financial journalist Siddharth Sarma, tells the story of the friendship between an Assamese boy and a Naga boy during the Japanese invasion in India at the time of World War II. Just as the invasion begins in 1944, an ambitious and vicious Japanese officer orders the massacre of a village of the Ao Naga tribe. Among those killed is Uti, grandson of the eldest Ao chief. Gojen is his best friend, and on hearing the news of Uti’s death he is unable to stay in school in Calcutta and so returns to the ancestral home, where he embarks on a gruelling journey of revenge. As the war unfolds and Gojen finds himself ever more embroiled in the battles and struggles for survival, it soon becomes clear that he is fighting for more than his homeland and the memory of his dead friend.
5. Pyre of Queens by David Hair. – Penguin Books (Print Price: Rs. 225, Our Price: Rs 190/-)
Mandore, Rajasthan, 769 AD: Ravindra-Raj, the evil sorcerer-king, devises a deadly secret ritual, where he and his seven queens will burn on his pyre, and he will rise again with the powers of Ravana, demon-king of Ramayana. But things go wrong when one queen, the beautiful, spirited Darya, escapes with the help of Aram Dhoop, the court poet. Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 2010: At the site of ancient Mandore, teenagers Vikram, Amanjit, Deepika and Rasita meet and realize that the deathless king and his ghostly brides are hunting them down. As vicious forces from the past come alive, they need to unlock truths that have been hidden for centuries, and fight an ancient battle . . . one more time New Zealander and historian David Hair, achieves inspiration and climax at an old fort in Rajasthan, in his novel Pyre of Queens, a heady juxtaposition of parallel narratives where characters from the present converge with themselves in their past lives, 1250 years apart!
6. The Beast with Nine Billion Feet by Anil Menon - Zubaan Publications. (Print Price: Rs. 295, Our Price: Rs 250/-)
It is 2040 A.D. The place is Pune, India. The future is here and now. Liquid computers. Flawless Skin. Emotional cars. Ilusion pods. Synthetic life. It’s a world of great peril. And possibility! But not for thirteen-year-old Tara and her elder brother Aditya. Tara is stuck waiting. Waiting for her long-lost father to return, waiting to escape her aunt’s fussing, waiting to leave boring old Pune, waiting to grow up. Aditya has given up on waiting. He takes what he wants and keeps what he finds. One day, everything changes when Tara bumps into a very ugly tree, two cool new friends– Ria and Francis– and their strange mother, Mandira. One day, everything changes when Aditya keeps something he shouldn’t have found. What does Mandira want? Why are Ria and Francis so startled by the star-filled night sky? How did Tara’s father become a terrorist to some but a savior to others? And just what exactly is the Beast With Nine Billion Feet?
7. The Comic Capers Of Sheikh Chilli by Anupa Lal – Scholastic India Pvt Ltd. (Print Price: Rs. 100, Our Price: Rs 100/-)
A daydreamer. An innocent fool. A simpleton. A fakir. Sheikh was all this and more. So whether it was believing that a watermelon was a horse’s egg, dreaming that he was a mouse and was being chased all over the village by a cat, or tricking the miserly kazi into paying him a year’s salary, Sheikh Chilli’s sometimes foolish and often laughable antics have made him a favourite with generations of children.
8. Kabir: The Weaver Poet by Jaya Madhavan - Tulika (Print Price: Rs 150/-, Our Price: Rs 140/-)
Mystic weaver, radical reformer, loved and hated equally in his time . . . the simple wisdom of his pithy couplets, the famous dohas, makes him one of the most frequently quoted poets even today. Yet Kabir the person remains an enigma. This brilliant novel traces one day in Kabir’s life, from Daybreak through Midday to Nightfall. Threading fact, legend and poetry into a superbly structured narrative, it etches Kabir’s compelling persona against the backdrop of fifteenth century Banaras — a period that mirrors quite remarkably our own troubled times of strained religious and communal relations.
9. Flute in the Forest by Leela Gour Broome – Penguin Books (Print Price: Rs 199/-, Our Price: Rs 180/-)
Atiya Sardare lives with her dad, a forest officer. An only child, afflicted by polio, she finds solace and peace in the jungle, exploring it on short, secret, often dangerous treks. On one occasion she hears the haunting notes of a flute. It gives her goose bumps. She vows to learn to play the instrument much against her father’s wishes. Her music lessons bring her close to the grouchy old anthropologist, Ogre Uncle, and his Kurumba tribal daughter, Mishora. Atiya’s gift transforms her father’s view, it calms the rogue elephant, Rangappa and helps nurture a blossoming friendship between a teenage boy and girl. A moving, tender, and mesmerizing tale, Flute in the Forest is based on the real-life experiences of the author. Recommended by Ruskin Bond! “Thirteen-year-old Atiya will win the hearts of young readers. She knows the ways of the jungle and its creatures great and small. A charming story, full of incident and good feeling.”
10. Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim Published – Penguin (Print Price: Rs 250/-, Our Price: Rs 210/-)
Nina Khan is 16, and has a few problems at hand. She is the only South Asian student at Deer Hook High; she doesn’t care about calculus, unlike her over-achieving older sister; she is genetically ordained with excessive body hair; and if her parents had a whiff of her thoughts about Asher Richelli, the cute new Italian transfer student, she would be grounded forever. In this funny, witty debut novel by Sheba Karim, Nina navigates her way through the first year of high school, dealing with friends who don’t even need to wax, and who don’t have a ghazal-listening father waiting round the corner. She realizes that though balancing two cultures is never easy, with a little spunk and a lot of humour, one can always find a way.
11. The Storyteller: Tales from the Arabian Nights Anushka Ravishankar Published by Puffin (Print Price: Rs 199/-, Our Price: Rs 165/-)
What if your life depended on being able to tell a good story? Schariar, King of Persia, would marry a woman every night only to chop off her head the next morning. He had sentenced the beautiful and clever Scherazade to the same fate. Determined to save herself and other women from this gruesome decree, Queen Scherazade began telling him stories one night — of magic lamps and genies, of fishermen and caliphs, of treasure-caves and strange potions. Tales so wonderful that the one night turned into 1001…. But what would happen when Scherazade ran out of yarns to spin? This new collection of Tales from the Arabian Nights presented by India’s very own Dr. Seusse, and award winning poet, playwright and writer will make you gasp with wonder as the magical storyteller Scherazade leaves you spellbound for days.
12. Terror on the Titanic by Samit Basu Published by Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd. (Print Price: Rs 150/-, Our Price: Rs 135/-)
The Morning Star Agency has existed across the world for many centuries. Its agents are powerful, charismatic individuals; some more than human, some merely unique. It is rumoured that the Agency President, Mr. Morningstar, is immortal, and has had a remarkable degree of influence on our history. Terror on the Titanic, the first case report to be released from the Agency archives, stars agent Nathaniel Brown, a young Anglo-Indian man with many strange talents – he can speak to animals, has incredibly sharp senses and the skills of many jungle creatures. He owes these to his training – his (very famous) father was raised by wolves. It’s 1912, Brown is on the Titanic, and his mission is to prevent a stolen jewel from reaching America. Simple enough, except that monstrous aliens are also involved. And since this a Morningstar Agency adventure, the fate of our world hangs in the balance.
13. Turbulence by Samit Basu Published by Hachette (Print Price: Rs 250/-, Our Price: Rs 200/-)
Aman Sen is smart, young, ambitious and going nowhere. He thinks this is because he doesn’t have the right connections – but then he gets on a plane from London to Delhi and discovers, a few days later, that he has turned into a communications demigod, able to control and manipulate all networks, including the internet. And he’s not the only one with a secret. TURBULENCE is a hyper-real novel set in an over-the-top world. It features the 21st-century Indian subcontinent in all its insane glory – F-16s, Bollywood, radical religious parties, nuclear plants, cricket, terrorists, luxury resorts, crazy TV shows – but is essentially about two very human questions. How would you feel if you actually got what you wanted? What would you do if you were given the power to change the world? ‘For wicked wit, for post-modern superheroics, for sheer verbal energy and dazzle, Samit Basu doesn’t so much push the envelope as fold it into an n-dimensional hyper-envelope, address it to your hind-brain and mail it with a rail gun.’- Mike Carey (X-men, Lucifer, the Felix Castor series) ‘You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp and you will demand a sequel.’- Ben Aaronovitch (Doctor Who, Rivers of London)
14. At Least a Fish by Anushka Ravishankar Published by: Scholastic India Pvt. Ltd. (Print Price: Rs 99/-, Our Price: Rs 99/-)
Zain and Ana lead a life riddled with anxieties and questions. Do fish like spinach? Is the dragon in the pond lonely? If you dig a hole that’s deep enough, will you fall right through to China? Can magic medallions make you invisible? Rambling through random and exciting childhood events, these books are about the mad adventure of being children. The thin line dividing fantasy and reality is crossed and recrossed as dumb dogs, nosy twins, dead fish and live dragons wander in and out of the world of Zain and Ana. The first book in the series At Least a Fish is about what happens when Ana asks for a puppy.
15. Taranauts series by Roopa Pai Published by Hachette (Price: Rs 145/book )
Taranauts is an eight-part fantasy adventure series for 8-12 year olds. Taranatter is the Taranauts’ blog – written by the Taranauts themselves! – to share their lives, their passions, and their great adventure – with you. All the action in the Taranauts books takes place in Mithya, a universe comprising eight worlds – Shyn, Dazl, Lustr, Glo, Syntilla, Shimr, Sparkl and Glytr; worlds that are sustained by the cool rainbow-coloured light of the 32 stars that make up Tara, the supersun of Mithya. All eight worlds bob around in the endless ocean of Dariya, around the bad-tempered volcano, Kay Laas.
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