Review by Shwetha H S
Title: The Velveteen Rabbit
Author: Margery Williams
Imprint: Doubleday, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
Genre: Children, Illustrated
I heard of The Velveteen Rabbit, for the first time, from Chandler Bing while watching him on the TV series F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It had stuck in my mind since then. When I found an edition of The Velveteen Rabbit in Goa, while looking for something else, I had to buy it. I had to read it.
A rabbit made of velvet cloth and sawdust stuffing feels insecure among other modern toys of a child, but another old toy tells it that a toy is not noticed by how it looks or what it can do, but by how much it is loved. The child eventually loves the velveteen toy so much that the two cannot be parted, making the rabbit look rather worn out yet making it feel like a real rabbit. But, when the child falls sick, all the old toys are discarded, including the velveteen rabbit. Does that mean the velveteen rabbit’s life has come to an end? What happens to the velveteen rabbit?
As I read The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, it taught me a good life lesson: sometimes, we are moulded/made by others, but our life does not end with what they do to us or how they see us, or when they pass away. This book is a precious one, written especially for children, but adults can learn from it too. I was so moved by this book that I don’t see this as a children’s book. Not to forget the beautiful illustrations by Erin Stead. She brings the decades old story to life.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Autobiography, Nonfiction, Graphic Novel
Imprint: Vintage, UK
Marjane Satrapi is also the author of Embroideries and Chicken with Plums. I have not read any of her other novels, therefore I won’t be comparing Persepolis with other works of the author.
Persepolis is the autobiographical graphic novel that tells us the story of Marjane Satrapi’s life in and out of Iran. It is one of those rare books that swallow the reader into its world as soon as they read the first line. The Satrapis are Iranians with a modern outlook towards life. They suffocate during the revolution and suffer immensely when the war begins in Iran. Though they belong to the family of the last emperor of Iran, who was ousted by rebels with the help of English, they live like normal public. Satrapis have seen it all in Iran. The young one of the family is Marjane Satrapi, the author of this book. As a child, she is brought up by liberal parents and grandmother, and tried to suppress by fundamental Islamist. War is etched in her life. Relatives, friends and neighbours disappear in weird circumstances. Those who survive, they leave the country as soon as possible. Those who can’t, they send their children abroad. The same happens with Satrapis too. Marjane’s parents send their only child to Austria because they don’t want her to grown up in regressive environment after living in a progressive environment since birth. A teenage Marjane finds it difficult to adjust in Austria where people treat foreigners, especially refugees, badly. The Western culture daunts her, but she manages to survive. Only after a bad breakup with a cheating boyfriend, Marjane returns to Iran after four years. Iran has worsened further. Marjane readjusts to Iran. Her parents have aged and so has her grandmother. Her friends have changed beyond recognition. Leftover relatives give her free unwanted advice. How does she cope with the changes in her country during her childhood and teenage? In what way does the country affect her life? What does she do in Austria? What does she do after coming back to Iran? Read Persepolis to know.
This book has two parts because it is a combination of book one that is about childhood and book that is about teenage and early adulthood. Though there are no quote-worthy lines, each line by every character teaches you something about life irrespective of whether you are in Iran or not. All the illustrations in the book are in black and white, pretty much as in life. It is a hard-hitting fact that you realise while reading this book that not everybody has all the privileges, and this is conveyed through simple narration and illustrations. There is no negative point of this book. You can’t find one even if you try to.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is for everyone irrespective of your favourite genre. If you are a parent who wants to teach your child about life or just want to keep them grounded, or keep yourself grounded, then this humble book is especially for you. Stay humble.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Nonfiction, Humour, Autobiography
Imprint: Ebury Press
Mindy Kaling, the comedian and screen writer best known for the shows The Office and The Mindy Project, is the author of this book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).
In this book, the author talks about her non-athletic, book nerdish childhood, her family and about being a Hindu, how she made friends, moving to New York, staying with best friends in a house, trying to find a show biz job, the crazy drama called Matt & Ben done along with her best friend Brenda, how The Office changed her life, concepts that she doesn’t understand and she loves, the way she looks and about how her funeral needs to be. There are few segments like Somewhere in Hollywood Someone Is Pitching This Movie and Revenge Fantasies While Jogging which are not that great. But there are also few segments that are exceptional like Men and Boys, and Married People Need to Step It Up, and everyone should read them. I give her points for writing as it is and without hesitating about anything, even about her lack of knowledge about certain things. An uninhibited account of her “concerns” in her world.
This book is totally hilarious and completely relatable. One-time read that won’t disappoint you.
Review by Shwetha H S
We all are aware of Aesop’s Fables, which the famous ones in their genre. Rachel Nkyete Nyambi presents the Muse’s Fables, which are set in sub-Saharan Africa. True to the nature of fables, each one in this anthology will teach not only children but also adults how to live and let live. This collection of Muse’s Fables has nine stories.
You will meet Nkoh the bully, a disobedient Khola the Antelope, Prince Nyamekye and Pendo, a jealous Zuli, Nduru the squirrel and Mboma the snake, the Princess Bride Kagiso and simple Balondemu, Enam who comes to Baka, Kiburi who wants marry Prince Chinua, and friends turned lovers Chidi and Kianga. Apart from the fables, the best part of this book is the glossary at the end; this truly gives a glimpse into the culture of African countries. As an added bonus, you get to read a few poems from Rachel’s upcoming poetry collection.
Fables are meant to teach you lessons of life and the Muse’s Fables don’t fail in serving their purpose. One can read them to revive their childhood or read them to children. Either way, fables are welcome to our lives at any phase.
Review by Satish A G
“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”
In this book, we get to know the exact meaning of the above quote. The whole book, with all the characters revolving around “friendship” and the different ways of expressing it in their own style. Being friends just does not mean being there during times of happiness or supporting during hard times. It also means showing the right direction or pointing out the mistakes and help to set them right. Friendship is hence one of the biggest strengths to everyone when you have a “good friend” to be with you always.
The beauty of the narration here is the subtle nature of describing the individual’s behaviour and thoughts towards others. Though the whole theme revolves around two characters – Gideon and Kibishi, the Crimson Scarf Samurai – other characters are also justified, which makes it even more entertaining. The reader will want to know what happens next to each character, and not just the two main lead characters. Also, each one of them varies so much from others, which makes the readers to introspect deep down within themselves as to which character they would represent.
The other thing that is a highlight of the entire narration is the emotional bonding or the personal relationship that develops not only amongst the characters, but also among readers. We tend to become one with the story. Couple of instances like – when Jill asks Gideon to be Kibishi’s “best friend” to survive the darkness within himself; when Kibishi departs from castle Valero without saying goodbye to Gideon – involves the readers and grips them tightly.
The first part ends at an interesting junction and also with lot of questions (as mentioned in the Afterword) – Is Gideon really “the child of Destiny”? How does Kibishi save his best friend from the situation they are in? Why did Albion pretend so far? Is Clover rally dead? Will Kenoke succeed in his “Operation Saviour”? Lot of questions remain, which have to be answered in the next book.
But, the book, in the first part, covers a lot of ground and sets the context nicely. The foundation has been laid to build a wonderful mansion going forward. The readers will be waiting to know what happens next, including us.
Review by Shwetha H S
What happens when a loving mother, wife and friend becomes psychotic? What happens to her doting family? How do her friends and extended family deal with this situation? How long do they have to suffer with a lunatic female who doesn’t realize that she is losing her mind?
Shannon Love is an expat residing in Beijing along with her husband Charles and three children. She has many friends in the expat community. They all have been living out of USA for so long that Beijing is their home now. An annual medical check up brings out reports about Shannon’s abnormal heart rates. Though her health is perfect, concerns about her heart don’t fade away. One thing leading to another, Shannon slowly develops a mental condition in which she imagines situations which are not true and listens to voices inside her head. Her husband’s company, unable to risk the health of expats, deports her for a time being to her home town in USA. She gets hospitalized to improve her condition. When things take a turn for betterment, they come back to Beijing. But is she cured completely? Does her psychosis relapse? What does her close circle of people do?
Shannon Love’s memoir is about her life with a psychotic condition and how her family and friends dealt with it. Her intention behind writing Twisting My Kaleidoscope is to let others know what a psychosis patient goes through and what the patient’s family goes through. As she has mentioned in the book, she has altered the events and situations in the narration to keep certain people out of the book due to privacy reasons. Apart from that, it is good book for one time read and is actually entertaining.
Review by Shwetha H S
When I started reading Leaving Home with Half a Fridge, I was glad that Arathi Menon did not mention the reason for divorce. This makes it possible for a reader to cherish her experiences and not judge her, whatever might be the reason. She writes in such an easy manner that it is equally easy to completely understand what she had to go through. Simple and realistic. Though this book is about life journey after divorce, it is meant not only for divorcees, but also young adults who have commonsense enough to understand reality. I would recommend this book to everyone, especially to ladies
You can recognize from her writing that she is not faking her happiness and she is truly, madly and deeply happy with herself. Though by the end of the book you get an idea about why her marriage might have dissolved even without her completely explaining it, by then you would have agreed with everything she writes in the book and smile at yourself.
This book has no preaching. It is full of author’s personal life experiences. Read it if you are liberal. Read it even if you are opinionated and judging. Read it no matter what ideas you have about yours and others lives.