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Welcome to Bookistaan

Bookistaan is India’s first recommendations based online children’s bookstore

As a small town bookstore, we have an inclination towards Indian publishing and writing, that hasn’t been able to find the routes into smaller towns. We believe it’s important for children to be exposed to their own literature for them to grow into empathetic individuals, proud of their own roots.

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The Book Thief

The Book Thief. This book is a legend. So obviously I’m not the first person to talk about it, but I’m still gonna try. There are books that leave you a sense of loss when they are over, the kind that you can’t help but finish in one night, but don’t want them to end?  Well, this isn’t one of those. The Book Thief is the kind of book that you sit with night after night, savour page for page, over and over again. It’s not the kind of book that leaves you contemplating what you can read next to fill the gap, the unrest. It’s the kind of book that breaks your heart, but mends it too, leaving a little bit of it inside. It’s a book about a girl in Nazi Germany who’s life has just changed, her mother has left her with a couple who she’s told will be her new parents. She’s just lost her brother, she’s haunted by nightmares but soon she finds solace in books and thus begins her career in book thievery. It’s the most poignant story about the Holocaust, that shows that humans are capable of heinous cruelty but just as capable of selfless kindness, that words can light up your life when you are surrounded by darkness. The storytelling is most unique, the most enchanting part of the book. Narrated from the point of view of Death, the author uses simple, concise sentences to convey deep, often complex emotions, each sentence, each page is so impactful that you have to go and re-read sections just to absorb is fully. It’s full of foreboding and that makes the narration all the more hard-hitting. If you need one reason to read this book, read it for the writing. It’s absolutely delicious. It’s a book that you HAVE to read at least once in your life time.
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Books about disability

For the past few years Literature is all about diversity, giving voice to every people, regardless of race or ability or lack thereof. These diverse books advocate the need for minority representation, representation of disabled or ill characters, as protagonists and not as sidekicks. And mind you, the idea of this books is not to invoke pity. No, the idea is about equal representation, a disabled character need be just as special as any normal character, with everyday struggles, the angst of growing up and hopes for the future like any other character. The idea is to find a place in this world for these stories as well because there may be readers out there who’ll feel less lonely, feel like less of an outcast when they read a story like their own. And for the reader who can’t relate to these books, my advice is give them a try, you’ll find a lot of heart and inspiration in there, even a love for life and people, every people.

So here are some diverse books that we think are a good place to start if you’re game for exploring the genre:



Image result for wonder bookWonder

August Pullman is a 10 year old who was normal parents, a normal sister, normal life but an unusual facial appearance. He has a deformed face, the kind that scares other children, and he’s never been to a school before. But then his parents start discussing how it’s time and the next thing he knows he’s taking on the challenge, albeit fearfully. He wants to be treated like everyone else, he wants to be the normal kid with friends, but is he?

Wonder is a paragon of middle grade diverse books. A poignant story about friendship, about learning to love yourself, about acceptance and growing up.

(Need more reasons to read the book? click here)


Image result for simply nanjuSimply Nanju

Simply Nanju is about a boy who’s simply normal. Nanjegowda is a boy of 10, studying in Standard 5 at the United Integrated School, born-with-a-spinal-defect-which-means-he-walks-funny-and-needs-to-wear-a diaper-24/7 normal. But Nanju has bigger problems on his hands like a mystery to solve, his name to clear concerning said mystery, prevent his father from shipping him off to a hostel for orphans, among other things. Good thing nothing worries him! Much!

(find our full review here)


Image result for el deafoEl Deafo

In this autobiographical graphic novel, the author Cece Bell chronicles her own loss of hearing at a young age and her experience with a hearing aid and how it made her her a misfit in school. Gradually it is this very hearing aid that help her become ‘El deaf, Listener for All’. Will she find her place in the world? Will she finally get people to accept her?


Image result for charlie and frog bookCharlie and Frog

Charlie’s parents are off to another adventure, this time dumping him with his TV addicted grandparents. He’s out exploring the place when a strange woman leaves him with a desperate message. In sign Language. Before disappearing suddenly.  Now Charlie has a mystery on his hands but no idea where to start. Good thing he finds help in Frog aka Francine, a deaf, wannabe detective who is all too excited to practice her sleuthing skills. Will a lot of ASL (American sign Language), intrigue, humor and a heartwarming friendship, this book is a satisfying, smart middle grade read.






Image result for curious incident of the dog in the nighttimeThe Curious Incident of a Dog in the Nighttime

Christopher is a 15 year old boy, living with his father. He loves prime numbers, hates yellow and is autistic. One day his neighbor’s dog is found forked to death and he embarks to uncover the murderer, Sherlock Holmes style. Even though I did not fall in love with the plot of the book, I did completely love Christopher, his musings on life and the world around him are so eye opening, no mind opening that I recommend this book for that reason alone.



Image result for unbroken duckbillUnbroken

Akriti is the girl with a disability. She’s in a wheelchair but she wasn’t always like this. She was a normal girl once but now that girl is lost. The thing that throws you of guard about this book is that the character with the disability does not elicit admiration in the reader, not for a very long time in the story. She is a character who wants to be hated, she’s much rather be hated than be pitied, she feels no one understands her but she makes no attempt to give people a chance to understand her. According to her, she is a monster and she’s accepted that. This is a book that explores anger, he frustration when your life changes for the worst and stops making any sense and all you can think about is, ‘why me?’.

Full review here


Image result for a quiet kind of thunderA Quiet Kind of Thunder

Steffi is selective mute. She’s been silent for so long that no one remembers her talking in school. She’s pretty much invisible until a new boy comes and notices her. Rhys is deaf and Steffi’s knowledge of ASL means she’s assigned to help him settle. A beautiful story about young love, taking a chance and new beginnings.


Why EVERYONE needs to read WONDER by R J Palacio

Let’s talk about this wonderful paragon today.

The thing is, there are billions of people on our planet which is the most special planet in our galaxy, what with it the only one supporting life and all. So we live on a planet out of eight, in one galaxy out of billions, in a universe that is infinite.

Why EVERYONE needs to read Wonder by R J PalacioTo say that we are all unique in our own way would be an understatement of epic proportions, but I’m still going to say that. Have you ever met anyone who looks just like you? (Please don’t answer that if you’re a twin.) No, right. That’s because there is no one like you at least on your planet (unless you’re a twin of course). And that’s just talking about physical appearance, your thoughts are just as one of a kind as you are. My point is we are all so special to be living on such a special planet, in such a special galaxy that is part of an unimaginable infinity.

The reason for this rant is because the protagonist in this story that I’m talking about today hates being ‘special’. August Pullman is a 10 year old who was normal parents, a normal sister, normal life but an unusual facial appearance. He has a deformed face, the kind that scares other children, and he’s never been to a school before. But then his parents start discussing how it’s time and the next thing he knows he’s taking on the challenge, albeit fearfully. He wants to be treated like everyone else, he wants to be the normal kid with friends, but is he? Well, his struggles are what make the rest of the story, so I’ll right here but here’s why EVERYONE needs to read this book asap:

  • Auggie is a brave character, brave enough to take a chance when he has faced open revulsion from people all his life. Sometimes we all need to do that, have a little faith and just leap towards the things we want.
  • I think it’s very important to accept yourself before you expect other people to accept you. But it’s difficult to get past our insecurities, our flaws, even painful experiences, isn’t it? Well, it is for August too but he keeps trying.
  • Told from multiple viewpoints, the book not only delves into Auggie’s side of the story but also those around him, those whose lives are also affected by him. This adds great depth to the story. We see how an illness or a deformity affects the entire family, how everyone has to help make room for it.
  • These multiple POVs also gives the reader insights into a young brain. We see the book raising a lot of issues like teenage angst, feeling neglected, trying to fit it, trying to stand out, popularity, rich vs poor etc
  • A lot of things children to, they do for approval and they learn by example. So we as parents and educators need to become the person we want them to grow up to be. We ourself need to be more accepting, more empathetic to the world around us. Why?
  • Because we need kindness in this world. And not just for people like Auggie. No, Auggie is a boy just like any other and he deserves as much kindness as anyone. We need empathy and kindness for all of humanity to lead content, meaningful lives.
  • Friendship is another important part of this book. We see some beautiful relationships that are based on overcoming personal issues and embracing other people for all they are.
  • The book makes you think about what kind of a person you want to be? The kind that makes people smile or the kind that elicit fear or the kind that can break people to tears. It makes you want to responsible for your actions.
  • The story overall has such a positive aura. I was beaming through most of it, sometimes beaming through tears but beaming nonetheless.
  • Never judge a book by it’s cover. Or the title. Or what other people are saying about it. Judge a book for what it has to say. Judge a man for he/she has to say.


Picture books about loss and grief

As I always say, books are a great way to start difficult conversations with children. And what’s more difficult to explain to kid that death? I remember my first encounter with loss, my uncle had passed and my family went to Delhi for his last rites. I did not know why we were going but I remember when I got there and I smiled at everyone, no one smiled back. That’s when i knew something was wrong but I only understood the episode years later I think.

As adults we think we should keep your children from the unpleasant feelings but I think it’s best to prepare them. Answer their questions as best as we can because it is even more difficult for them to cope with something they don’t even understand.

So today, I have some picture book suggestions for you that deal with loss and grief:


Books about loss and grief @bookistaanThe Heart and the Bottle

What happens when a little after losing her father, locks away her hurt so nothing and no one can hurt her again. This is such a poignant book, the kind that’ll leave you with goosebumps. Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite picture book makers because he has a way of saying a lot more than the words on the page and that’s my favorite part about this book too, the story hidden in this book will win your heart.



Books about loss and grief @bookistaanGone Grandmother

Nina’s Nani is gone. Forever. But where? She keeps asking her mother questions but her mother doesn’t know how to answer her questions. A sensitive story about how memories stay alive even when people fade away and how holding close these memories you can hold close the person.



Books about loss and grief @bookistaanBoo! When My sister Died

This is a story about a girl who loses her sister and life as she knows it changes. Noorie keeps yearning for her sister, keeps hoping she’ll come back. A beautiful story about accepting loss and learning how to move past it.



Books about loss and grief @bookistaanIda, Always

Gus and Ida are best friends and they live in a zoo. They are always there for each other, they are all either of them has. But then Ida falls sick and pretty soon Gus is left alone. The best part about this book is it takes you through Ida’s sickness and all the feelings the two friends go through, the fears, the sadness. It teaches you to cherish every moment you have with the people you love, make sure every minute counts when your days are numbered.



books are loss and grief @bookistaanAlways Remember

This one takes you diving in a reef. Old Turtle dies and all the sea animals fondly recall how he helped them, impacted their life at some point or another. It’s a beautiful story about how even when you’re gone, your deeds live on and they are your legacy, your imprint on the world. The illustrations in this book are breathtaking, it’s like you’re experiencing aquatic life first hand.



Indian Historical Fiction

Ever wondered how the royals lived in ancient India? Was it all about sitting on the throne while being fed grapes or were their lives full of turbulence? If yes, we have some historical fiction suggestions for you today all about Indian royalty and the kind of lives they lived.

Image result for queen of iceQueen of Ice

Devika Rangachari’s novel Queen of Ice brings alive one of the few Queens of Indian History, Queen Didda – ruler of Kashmir from 958 AD to 1003 AD – beautiful, discerning and lame. The story starts with a young princess who transforms into a confident queen who would do anything to stay on the throne.

Full review



Image result for gulbadanGulbadan

Rumer Godden’s Gulbadan: Portrait of a Princess at the Mughal Court is the story of Princess Rosebody, Babur’s youngest daughter and author of the Humayun-nama. A loyal supporter of the Mughal royal line, Gulbadan Begam lived through the rule of three kings – her father – Babur, her brother – Humayun and her nephew Akbar, as first a child in the confines of the zenana and then as an accomplished scholar and royal adviser. Did she have a favorite? Of course!

Full review



Image result for history mystery duckbillHistory mystery series

Although this is a series for middle graders, I really love it and wanted to mention it. This is more fiction that history and they don’t talk about so much about the royals but their life and lifestyle. Each book in the series, there are four so far, is full of enigma, espionage and humor.




Image result for palace of illusionPalace of Illusion

This is Mahabharata through Draupadi’s POV, her life from birth to death. Women have always been portrayed at the corrupting factor in mythological wars, the causing factor, and it’s so great to read the woman’s side of the story. When I read this book I was plain blown over. Draupadi’s voice is totally believable and impactful, and the plot twist is so exciting.

Wordless picture books

Ok so let’s talk about books without words today!

Wordless Picture books. These are books that tell a story, obviously, but they don’t tell it, instead they show you a story. With zero words. The pictures drive plot and the story is really what you make of it.

So these books are entirely about art and interpretation. Wordless picture books are such an empowering style of storytelling because it’s the reader and their imagination that is essentially driving the story. In that sense they improve the child’s attention span and are great for kids who don’t yet read!

Here are some of our favorite silent books, if you want to make some suggestions do drop in a comment:

Image result for the red book barbara lehmanThe Red Book by Barbara Lehmen

A girl happens upon a red book one snowy day, a book without any words. But in the book is a boy, a friend, who awaits her. A new world full of possibilities awaits her, will she be brave enough to embark on the adventure.



Image result for south patrick mcdonnellSouth by Patrick McDonnell

This is the story of a little bird who wakes up to find all his friends and family have left the tree and gone south for the winter. The lost little bird then befriends a cat to help him find his way back home.



Image result for flora and the flamingoFlora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Flora is enamored by the Flamingo’s graceful stance and want stop be just like it. The Flamingo however is annoyed by this girl trying to imitate him. An unlikely friendship with a lot of dance, this a delightful book that’ll have the reader dancing along.



Image result for the boy and the bookThe Boy and the Book by David Michael Slater

Another book about a book! This one is about a boy who goes to a library and finds a book that he falls in love with. He reads it and reads it and reads it and the next day wants to read it again but the book doesn’t want to be found, in fact it wants to get rid of the boy.



Image result for the lion and the mouse jerry pinkneyThe Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

This is an award winning wordless retelling of the famous Aesop’s Fable about an act of kindness that comes around. You can probably tell from the cover, the illustration in this book are so vivid, you can almost feel the jungle around you.

Bookistaan’s favorite Fantasy worlds: fantasy series

Reading means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some it’s an adventure, for others it’s an escape and for yet another category it’s a chance to face the mirror.

If there’s one genre that does is all, it’s fantasy. The experience of losing yourself in another world, bumping into all sorts of characters, dragons included, is nothing short of surreal. A world unlike another and yet it has the power to make you see your own reality in better light.

So today we share with our favorite ever fantasy world. Please remember the list is mostly revealed of middle grade readers and young adults. Also the series does not contain any dystopian novels because that’s a genre in itself, lately. So, here goes:

Image result for harry potterHarry Potter

If you read only one fantasy series, read Harry Potter, the book that brought children’s writing to the forefront. Harry is 11 when he receives acceptance into The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his life changes forever. He’s faced with his past, new challenges, new friend, a world full of magic and even an enemy. Rowling’s magical world is so imaginative, symbolic and immersive that it will have you addicted until you reach the entire series and you’ll still not be satisfied. I still at least one book in the series every year!




Image result for the chronicles of narnia bookThe Chronicles of Narnia

C. S. Lewis’ first in this series of seven was published in 1950. The first book The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe  stars 4 brother and sisters who whilst hiding in a cupboard stumble upon the magical land of Narnia. The main characters change in the subsequent books but the world remains the same and the books span the entire history of the realm. Full of magic, conflict and acts of bravery, the series is hard to put down and harder to forget.



Image result for percy jacksonPercy Jackson and the Olympians

This magical world takes inspiration from Greek mythology, which in itself was a winner for me. It’s a world of Gods and demigods where one misfit is trying to find his place. But Percy Jackson is more than meet the eye and it looks like fate has great adventures in store for him. Percy faces one nail-biting task after another to prove his worth in this series of Five books. The books are set in a school for demigods and Greek Gods make special guest appearances throughout the plot!



Image result for artemis fowlArtemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is a hero unlike any other. He is a criminal mastermind. Yep, you read that right! The series starts with Fowl kidnapping a fairy for ransom, so that he can extort gold from the fairy people and restore his family’s wealth. Our little villain grows into many shades in this series with eight books and has won the hearts of readers worldwide with his evil plots.



Image result for fairyland seriesFairyland

Finally a series with a heroine! In the first book of five, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, we meet eleven year old September who is spirited away from her ordinary, uneventful life to Fairyland. Here is meets witches and gnomes and all sorts of odd characters and is trusted with a very important task. It’s a delicious story about growing up and finding courage and compassion.







This fantasy series of five books by Brandon Mull follow a brother and sister duo who are visiting their grandparents while their parent are on a holiday. To their surprise they come to find that their grandparents are guardians of Fablehaven, a sanctuary for ALL sorts of magical creatures. Think fairies, centaurs, ogres, goblins, trolls, dragons etc, all in one place. Is that a geeks dream come true or what!




Cover ravenboys 300.pngThe Raven Cycle

The Series follows Blue, who’s lived her life among her clairvoyant family. Her entire life she’s been told that when she kisses her true love, he’s going to die. The prophecy has never been a problem for Blue, that is until she meet the Raven Boys, a group of four boys from a local private school, and finds herself on a quest with them.

Counting Picture books

Picture books are a great way to make learning fun! They are a great way to engage your child into learning anything.

So today I have a list of counting picture books, stories that make math fun. All you have to do is make it a into a reading game:


Related imageLet’s Go by Anther Mohan

This is such a popular book with toddlers. A fun counting book that’ll take you on a tour through the colorful, eventful streets of India. Every page is an engaging counting game.The illustrations are wonderfully detailed and capture the diversity of our country quite precisely. It’s the kind of book that you just have to read more than once (even though that can be said about most picture books).





One Dark Cloud by Sobha Viswanath

This beauty of a counting book is for the rainy days. Sobha Viswanath brings alive monsoon in this brilliant picture book. The paper college illustrations are simply enthralling and feel like home. This book is major nostalgia if you read it any other time of the year, other than monsoons, so I suggest you read if with your child anytime just to create that anticipation for the heavenly showers.




Image result for one two tree anushka ravishankarOne, Two, Tree by Anushka Ravishankar

Come along and count the improbable number of animals of this ever-expanding tree. With Anushka Ravishankar’s signature rhymes, this book is delightfully celebrates trees and living together. The illustrations are done in Gond tribal tradition known for its deep affection of trees and create an earthy, soothing atmosphere.





Image result for the very hungry caterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This classic is a part of a lot lists, let me warn you. The hungry caterpillar eats everyday until its big enough to metamorph. The book take the readers through the days of the week and numbers till five.





Image result for ten apples up on top10 Apples up on Top by Dr Seuss

You can’t go wrong with Dr Seuss. Different characters in this book compete to balance 10 apples on their head. The rhymes and repetition make the storytelling that much more engaging and each page is a counting prompt for your child. It’s a great book for beginner readers as well or even beginner listeners.

Fairy tale retellings for Middle Grade readers

Fairy tales are an inevitable part of growing up. Whether you’ve been exposed to books or movies, I’m sure you’re quite familiar with them.

I, for one, love fairy tales, always have. But did you know, fairy tales weren’t always as dreamy as we know them today. The original stories of Grimm and Anderson were quite gory, in fact they were not meant for children at all. They talked about transgression and its horrid consequences and even rape. These stories were Disneyfied into what we know today which was a drastic improvement but somewhere down the line in their chase for happily-ever-afters, these stories forgot to be politically just. Why must the man always save the day? Why should a girl have to wait for a man to come and rescue her?

I started thinking these questions when i grew up and I took the feminist stance. This is when I started dejecting the whole damsel-in-distress ploy that just showed women as incapacitated, perpetually dependent beings. That’s when I started looking for fairy tales retellings that are magical, or at least hopeful, but not unfair to half the population of the world. Stories need to change with time and so I thought I’d share my findings with you.

This list is mostly for middle grade readers, I’ll be doing a YA version soon:


Image result for girls to the rescue tulikaGirls to the Rescue  by Sowmya Rajendran

Sowmya Rajendran little book of fairytales is surprising and funny and super entertaining. In her version of fairy tales; Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and the Princess decide to take charge of their situation and not follow convention/script. They are on a mission to be examples of strength and independence, to be better inspiration today that they have been all these years.

You can read Bookistaan’s full review here


Image result for ella enchanted bookElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

In this retelling of Cinderella, Ella has been ‘blessed’ with the gift of obedience which unsurprisingly feels like a curse to her because it means she can never defy her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. So she sets out on an adventure to find her Godmother to take back the ‘blessing’. The story runs close to the original but the twists will make you laugh. The ending isn’t perfect but Ella is a likable character who believes in fighting for herself and fighting for the people she cares about.



Image result for far far away tom mcnealFar Far away by Tom McNeal

Jeremy can hear voices in his head but when he admits to him townspeople he is shunned. His life has been tough and lonely but now he has a ghost watching over him, the ghost of Jacob Grimm. Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel, this is much an original take on fairy tales that run a little close to the Grimm style of storytelling. This book does not promise a happily-ever-after but does promise intrigue, a little darkness and a lot of twists.



Image result for rapunzel's revengeRapunzel’s Revenge by Dean Hale

In this modern retelling, Rapunzel is daring enough to escape her tower o her own. Now she’s on a mission to rescue her mother and seek revenge on her kidnapper. While on the adventure she teams up with none other than Jack (of the Beanstalk fame) and together they fight for justice.




Image result for froggedFrogged by Vivian Vende Velde

A new spin on the old tale where the princess kisses the frog prince. In this retelling when Princess Imogene kisses the frog on his request, he does transform into a young boy, only the kiss changes her into a frog! To her horror the only way out of the magic is to pass on the kiss and the frogness to another unsuspecting victim. Imogene’s adventures as a frog are entertaining and this charming story will definitely leave you grinning.


Essential Reads: Classic chapter-books for middle graders

Today I have some classic middle grade recommendations for you that make great summer read projects, so if you’re a teacher making a summer reading list for her students or a student who wants to indulge in some timeless books, this list is for you:


CharlotteWeb.pngCharlotte’s Web by EB White, 1952

A memorable story about friendship and loss, Charlotte’s web is about a little pig names Wilbur who is doomed to be slaughtered. Obviously he doesn’t want to die but it seems no one can help him, that is until he befriends a spider named Charlotte and she promises to come up with a plan to save him. This is such a heart touching story and it considered the greatest children’s book of all times. I swear this book is the reason I don’t hate spiders, in fact I see Charlotte in all of them. Yep, that’s the power of Literature.



Wizard title page.jpgWizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, 1990

I can’t tell you how much I love the Wizard of Oz. The story of Dorothy who is swept away to the magical kingdom of Oz along with her dog Toto by a cyclone.  Again a story about unlikely friendships, crossing hurdles, the fight between good and evil but this one does it with a lot of humor. A Lion who lacks courage, a tin man on a quest for a heart and a scarecrow looking for a brain become Dorothy’s comrades on a journey that is full of hidden meaning and



Image result for alice in wonderland bookAlice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll, 1865

Alice falls down a rabbit hole only to find herself in another world. A world with peculiar creatures who talk more non sense than sense and who’ve decided that she is their savior. Thus starts Alice’s adventure. It’s a good thing she is a curious, brave character because she’s meant to defeat an evil queen to save the people of Wonderland.

This is how it all started, fantasy as genre. Before Hogwarts, Narnia, even Neverland, there was Wonderland.



Malgudi Days.jpg Malgudi Days by RK Narayan, 1943

A collection of 32 short stories set in the fictional town of Malgudi in South India, this book will brings alive everything India. The stories focus on simple people living ordinary but charming lives. The book is so atmospheric you can taste the village life on your tongue, you can hear the sounds ring in your ears and the smell of earth and incense. Each story talks about taboos, beliefs and superstitions prevalent in the nineteenth century and Narayan’s signature enigmatic endings will leave you with a lot to think about.



Image result for charlie and the chocolate factory bookCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, 1964

Dahl’s books are the definition of zany. This book starts with a contest, five golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars that will get five lucky buyers an invitation into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. Charlie is one of the five and it’s a dream come true for him. He knows that something extraordinary is going to happen and what awaits him and the other children inside the factory is nothing short of magical.



Book cover featuring GedA Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin, 1968

The story follows a young boy, Ged, who displays magical powers and joins a school of wizardry to become a mage. The book follows his journey as a trainee sorcerer, his struggles and his misfires one of which leads to the creation of his enemy. The book is followed by five others in the series, which is considered an important series in fantasy literature and which follows Ged as he grows up to tame his powers and become a wise, powerful wizard.



WrinkleInTimePBA1.jpgA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, 1962

Meg’s father, a time-traveling physicist has disappeared and then one night her home is visited by an unexpected visitor who tells them of the tesseract, a fifth dimension that allows travel through time and space. This is how Meg embarks on an adventure across the Universe along with her brother and her friend to find her father. The award winning book is perhaps the earliest venture  into time travel and science fiction and it makes all geeks proud.



Bookistaan’s favorite Indian YA writers

YA is the fastest growing genre in publishing right now and it’s a genre that is liked by adults, if not more, as by teens. One reason is probably because most YA’s are such breezy reads, fast-paced page-turners for when you want to read something light but that also have a certain literary depth. This is certainly why it’s my favorite genre right now.

Today I have some Indian YA writer recommendations for you:

Asmara’s Summer by Andaleeb Wajid

This is the story of 17 year old Asmara, confident, popular and a little bit of a diva. But behind her perfect life is a secret, one that even her best friends are unaware of, one that she thinks could be the end of her life.

Much to her dismay she is thrown into this secret and despite her protests has to live it for a month. She has to live in Tannery Road – a conservative part of the city, a place she has avoided all her life – where her grandparents live. Of course she plans to spend it cooped up in one room, away from civilization and technology!

Read full review here.

The Gita for Children
by Roopa Pai

Roopa Pai simplifies one of the most important Hindu religious text, making it approachable for children. Chapter by chapter she unravels concepts of the Gita, quoting plenty relatable examples for young readers. She broods over questions about duty, human expectations, relations and life with such ease and poise, candor and seriousness. I think this is a book everyone should read once in their lifetime to come a little closer to life, to come a little closer to themselves.

The House That Spoke by Zuni Chopra

Written by a 15 year old fantasy lover, The House That Spoke is about 14 year old Zoon, living in a heavenly house in Kashmir with her mother. She knows that her home is more that its beauty and right before her 15th birthday, she finds out the secret that her house has been guarding, a secret that unravels her heritage and her powers. But with these powers and the magic she also discovers an enemy that she must defeat to save her home, as well as her Kashmir. It’s a spellbinding Magic Realism about finding hope even in darkness.

Full review here

Our Nana was a Nutcase by Ranjit Lal

Gosling, Duckling and twins Dumpling and Dingaling was been raised by their nutty Nana, he is the only parent they have ever known while their parents have been AWOL since before they could walk, too busy with their careers. An ex Army Doctor, Nana is very unconventional (read eccentric) in his ways, he wakes his ‘patloon’ up with trumpets and a show, their day starts and ends with staring at the mountains (they live in the hills) and their weekend plans include trekking, camping and treasure hunts. Life at the Shadow House with Nana as commander in chief is never boring. A heart touching story about family love and growing up.

I can’t do this book justice in such few words so read full review here.

Queen of Ice by Devika Rangachari

Devika Rangachari’s novel Queen of Ice challenges this illusion. She brings alive one of the few Queens of Indian History, Queen Didda–ruler of Kashmir from 958 AD to 1003 AD–beautiful, discerning and lame. The book challenges the way we see women’s contribution to Indian history and is a must read is you are a history fanatic.

Here’s our full review.

Middle grade authors for fans of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is a quintessential middle school read!

The first book I read by the British author was Matilda. I was eleven and I remember it was the first time I found a book really funny. I did not know books could do that back then. I reread the book recently and it still proved itself effectively amusing and I kept wondering if I actually understood everything in the book at eleven.

But anyway, the reason I delved into the story is to emphasize what makes Dahl so special. It’s his ability to make his reader laugh and consequently make them fall in love with reading. His quirky, sometimes slightly unhinged characters, his sarcasm and the way he paints the world, real and yet so exaggerated that you can’t help but shake you your head at the intricacies of human nature, make for delightful, hard to put down reads that I can promise will go with you a long, long time after you’ve read them.

So if like me you are a lover of Dahl’s signature style, here are some other classic authors that you can explore next:

Eva Ibbotson

Ibbotson is one author who comes very close to Dahl’s style of writing. If you’re into stories about witches, ghosts, magic or anything supernatural, you should give her books a try. Her writing style is wrought with irony and if you learned a little about the kind of life she lived (she lived through the second World War and so had an unstable childhood) you’d know that the grotesque comes disguised as eccentric, imaginative and fantastical. It’s such an effective disguise though, things I realized when I revisited her stories as an adult, and her writing is humorous and enchanting.


Astrid Lindgren

I’m sure you’ve heard of Pippi Longstocking! The unpredictable, super strong, super opinionated girl with mismatched stockings who doesn’t want to grow up. Pippi lives to slaughter rules and has a decided disregard for authority and conventions. She lives a life of freedom and her unabashed outspokenness is inspiring. Her adventures are brave and chaotic and oh-so-funny and her rebellion charming. She’s a little girl who raises big questions about right and wrong, about society and individual. Astrid Lindgren’s writing is simple and uncomplicated and relatable and this isn’t her only children’s book but it’s her most popular one.


Edward Eager

A less popular author who deserves more notice, Edward Eager is the author of the Tales of magic series. The series follows four children who happen upon a seemingly ordinary coin which they soon realize is magical. They start wishing upon the coin but here’s the catch, the coin only grants half the wish. All sorts of mayhem ensues as they find themselves in awkward, complicated situations. Eager’s writing is confessional and mocking at the same time and will never cease to surprise you. It’s the kind of writing that keeps playing in your head after you’ve kept the book down, making you snort of the dinner table.