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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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fairy tale retellings for middle grade readers

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.

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.