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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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Middle Readers

A – Z Detective Agency

How things unfold?

Ashwin is on a mission to make money this summer so he can go on the School trip and make friends. All he needs is a business plan. As he jumps from the nimbu pain business to selling hand made crafts, all without much success, he stumbles upon a piece of paper that changes his life.

Next thing you know, Ashwin learns how to summon a Djinni, and start yet another business The A-Z Detective Agency. Only as luck would have it the Djinni who comes to  his rescue seems to be in need of rescue herself. Will this school going, forgetful, novice of a Djinni, disguised as a 9 year old girl be able to able Ashwin? Will Ashwin succeed in his mission?

Why read it?

For Ashwin’s entrepreneurial ideas

One reason I loved this character is for his many business ideas and his financial independence, his eagerness to earn his own money and pay for the trip himself.

For loads of anecdotes on Djinnestan

Parinita Shetty paints a mystic and intriguing picture of the world of Djinnies.

For friendship that happens

Just like how the best things in life just happen, the best of friends also just happen. They are not planned, they are happystances that you stumble upon.

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends this one for ages 8 and above, all you young readers out there!

Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles

It has to be something else to be able to influence lives even after you’re gone, to leave an imprint on the surface of the globe so deep that it becomes a monument to be worshiped by generations to come.

Today’s book celebrates one such monumental, poetic life. Amir Khusrau, the royal poet of the 13th Century, aka the Parrot of India, has over a 90 books to his credit. His lyrics adorned the court of seven ruler of Delhi and he is considered the founder of Qawwali and Ghazals, one of the many things he gave to our country. But what was his life like? To find out give Ankit Chadha’s Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles a try.

Why read it?

For a glimpse into the life of the mystic
The book gives the reader a sneak peak into the life of the poet, just enough to make the reader curious. It doesn’t drone about his life and achievements but talks about his beliefs, desires, likes and dislikes.

A little bit of riddle, rhyme and reason
Another thing that makes this book unique and stand apart from other books about history is that it uses riddles to take the reader through the life of a legend, riddles all attributed to him. You have to decode the riddle to find out more about him, it’s an interesting way to decode a life.

For a taste of the Sufi language
Khusrau wrote mostly in Persian or Hindvi which was a combination of Persian and Bhojpuri and which later developed into Urdu and Hindi. The book offers the Urdu lyrics along with translations, giving the reader a taste of the glorious language as well as more challenge.

The illustrations deserve a special mention for Urmimala Nag’s colorful illustrations add to the beauty of the book. This book is a collector’s dream.

Who is it for?
Bookistaan recommends this beauty for the middle reader, age 10 and above.

The Great River Magic

The famed village of Rajpur is said to be bound in an age old magic, a magic bestowed upon its people by a fairy for saving her life. A magic that is a big part of the life of its residents.

Sangeeta wants nothing more than to unravel mathematical problems all day but at the end of school what awaits her is her responsibility as the first born to learn the family business so she can single handedly take over one day. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t feel for it enough. It also doesn’t matter that her younger brother feels for it a lot. Such is a normal, magical day in Rajpur, until the magic somehow starts going wrong and there’s a real mystery to unravel…

Why read it?

To challenge tradition
Nandini Nayar’s The Great River Magic challenges a lot of traditions and forces the reader to take that course of thought also. It forces one to question the hitherto accepted standard, age doesn’t make a practice right after all!

A peep beyond the surface
Sometimes the answers are right in front of us and we still see right through them. Sangeeta’s story is no different, her problem comes with an answer like any other, but will she be able to finally see it?

For a little push to chase your dreams
Failure can be scary and especially if there are too many people steering your life but what this book assures you if that no matter how bleak the chances may seem, no matter how difficult the flight may seem, you have got to try. Start with a leap, if flying seems too scary, but start.

Who is it for?
Bookistaan recommends middle readers, ages 10 and above, to dive into The Great River Magic for a taste of courage and adventure.

Ravana refuses to Die

How things unfold?

Rustom Dadachanji’s Ravana Refuses to Die is a collection of four short stories that follow the adventures of the Babubari’s gang – Muru, Jitu, Chippa, and Chipkili- as they deal with the demons of the 21st century. Along the way the fearless four meet a Rakshasa of the past, a scheming, syrupy voiced, kidnapping Sadhu, a money lending, land grabbing, gold digging ogre and marauding, mischief making monkeys. Whoever said village life was simple didn’t know that adventure comes to those with the courage to seize it at the right time!

Why Read it?

A taste of mythology
While the book doesn’t directly talk about the myth Ramayana, it does offer quite a lot of anecdotes and scientific terms from the myth successfully arousing the readers curiosity.

Demons exposed
The definition of evil has changed over the eras, it isn’t as explicit as it used to be. It has taken a more deceitful, crafty avatar in our world. It is this avatar that Rustom Dadchanji exposes and in a simple and subtle enough way to be comprehendible to children.

Picturesque storytelling
Dadachanji’s vivid imagery and detailed insights into the evil characters is absolutely delightful. It helps unravel a character making it easy to imagine.

The gang
The most endearing part of the book for me is the gang and age that they represent. The age where you stick out for your friends even if they annoy you, the age when you meet a stranger and you are friends in five minutes, the age where you take a leap of faith, trust a stranger and go out of your way to help them just because it feels right.

Who is it for?
Bookistaan recommends this devilishly delightful collection for Middle readers, ages 10 and above.

Vikram and the Vampire

While the world was depicting vampires as grotesque, fanged, fearsome creatures, early Indian stories depicted them as wacky, challenging the up to no good label associated with vampires more often than not.

The stories of Vikram and Betal have been part of India’s growing up culture for ages. These stories, originally written in Sanskrit, are over a thousand years and many versions old. And Natasha Sharma’s Vikram and the Vampire is another twisty, spooky, side-splitting version.

How things unfold?

It all starts in the court of King Vikramaditya, having received an elephant, two horses and gold shoes, the King lifts the curtains off yet another tray to find… an apple. As kings must do, he graciously accepts the fruit after which the merchant returns everyday bearing a different fruit. Paying no heed whatsoever to the fruits, the Kings resumes his royal life, only to one day unwittingly find out that the fruit has a jewel hidden in it – correction – the fruits have hidden jewels hidden in them. Having discovered an undeserving treasure, he embarks on the most obvious mission – find more treasure. He meets the merchants who is actually a tantric and is given a task. He must bring back a corpse hanging on a tree in the middle of the jungle. Enter Betal. Turns out the corpse is infested by a chatty, storytelling vampire!

Why read it?

Meet Betal, the zany vampire
Vampires have been a constant fascination in literature, from Dracula to Edward Cullen. But Betal is quite a trend setting vampire who will baffle you with his riddling tale and also has a good deed up his sleeve or two.

Tales of good humor
Betal has plenty of tales in his pockets, tales of the most sensitive queens, the foolish brothers, of the King Dukhdard and many more.

With riddles galore
And each tale ends with a riddle. But Beware! For if you answer the riddle… POOF! Betal will return to his tree and have to be fetched again. Looks like it’s going to be a long night for the King.

Who is it for?
Bookistaan recommends this laugh riot for the middle reader, ages 10 and above.

The Story of Astronomy

Ever wondered what secrets lay hidden in the endless, night sky? If yes then you have a lot in common with Galileo, Copernicus, Aristotle and other early astronomers who took star gazing to a whole new level.

We know that the Sun is a huge star around which the planets, our Earth one of them, revolve. But that wasn’t the dominant theory in the ancient world as it believed in earth being the centre of the Universe. You see theories are all the world had, when they hadn’t found technology, the telescope in this case.

Uday Patil in his graphic novel The Story of Astronomy, traces the course of these theories/developments in Astronomy from the early days of drawing stars to now naming them.

Why read it?

To trace the history of stars 

These tiny dots in the black canvas have continued to intrigue us for centuries. Their history is part of ours even though they have stayed constant all these years (mostly). Studying their history gives us an insight into ours and the history of science and the developments in our belief systems.

To find a lot of answers

From who perfected the telescope to do the stars move, find answers to question that have always made you wonder and to those that you couldn’t have ever imagined. Lose yourself in the mysterious, magical Universe.

All through quirky illustrations

The comic book style illustrations are a breath of fresh air, they make for an engaging, swift read.

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends this one for the ever curious middle reader, ages 10 and above.

The Big Book of World Mythology

These first stories from around the world reveal oodles about the cultures, fears, imagination, lifestyle and beliefs of the ancient human race across waters. The recurring themes and ideas also reveal that even though these races were culturally and geographically separated, they were somehow linked by winds of thought.

How things unfold?

The Big Book of World Mythology is divided into seven parts, classifying the stories on the basis of their origin (the seven continents). Reeja Radhakrishnan takes the reader on a spectacular journey, through time, across seas, digging history to find these tales which have part of cultures for generations. Along the way we meet Gods from Greece, India, Egypt, Scandinavia and mythical creatures like the firebird, dragons, fairy folks, and many more.

Why read it?

Unlock a treasury of supernatural

Dive deep into the ocean of wonder and lose yourself in these tales of magic where the ending might not always be happy but that doesn’t mean that they fall short of inspiration. Here’s your chance to meet giants and witches and queens and pharoahs.

Digging stories to reveal cultures

Come find out how the Chinese came to celebrate their New Year/Spring Festival in a big way, how Egyptians got their first Mummy, how King Arthur came to possess his mighty sword Excalibur and who is the Volcano Goddess of Hawaii.

The many adventures

Giant slaying with Beowulf or a dangerous quest with Thor for his Hammer or competing with Cuchulain to find out the greatest warrior of Ireland, gather your wits and might for the many adventures.

A time when imagination ruled

This is a time when imagination ruled, people relied on stories and not science to explain peculiar phenomenons, stories like how the bears lost the fire to humans, how the Sun and Moon came to be and how our galaxy came to be.

Ignite your imagination

These stories of magic and mythical beings will fuel imagination to soar high and your thoughts to be limitless.

 

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends these tales for anyone above 10, interested in uncovering the history of stories.

The Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Genius

When you’re growing up the smallest of problems can look like the world tumbling down, a zit can seem like your very end, confusion is your middle name and siblings are your enemies. It’s a difficult age, a class test can seem like a crisis, a small mess up can crush your confidence and a compliment can make your day. Self-doubt is a big part of you and getting people to accept you, a most crucial mission.

And today’s book is all about this momentous period.

How things unfold?

13-year-old Arjun Bhasin, a middle child who is neither at the top of the class nor at the bottom, relishes his average status and almost invisible, ‘no expectations’ existence. Until one day, when one test turns his life upside down. Suddenly, he is labelled a genius, and his whole life crumbles. His best friend abandons him for being a traitor, his sister hates him even more than usual for having hijacked her star-of-the-family title, his teachers beam at him all the time waiting for him to bless them with words of wisdom and his parents start treating him like a lab experiment, putting him through one talent class after another, trying to bring out his ‘geniosity’ and soon the entire clan joins in. His life is now a circus and he is the circus freak who is lost, who doesn’t know who he is anymore. Will he find an escape? Or will he, as he suspects, go crazy as most geniuses do?

Why read it?

A comfort read that is super funny

Paro Anand’s The Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Genius is a book that will make you feel. It will make you feel normal for being confused, for not knowing what to do, it will make you feel normal for crying when a friend leaves you and you’re alone, and it will comfort you for feeling like you are not understood. And it will do all this while making you laugh.

For a lovable, relate-able character

Her character is witty and funny, but most of all he is relate-able, he shows how by accepting yourself, you are a mile closer to getting people to accept you and no matter how big problems may seem, they always come with an expiration date. You just have to be patient.

For some growing up wisdom

Paro Anand offers some serious 13-year olds’ wisdom, tips on how to get through growing up, from tackling best friend issues to embracing your awesomeness.

And finding yourself

Who know? You might just end up finding ways to channelise the anxiety and finding yourself?

After all, it’s all about embracing your ‘geniosity’

To find out how Arjun uncovers his hidden genius.

 

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends it to all you lost and confused almost teenagers, age 10 and above, who are looking for a friend.

Girls to the Rescue

What’s a fairy tale without a little romance, lots of magic, a happy ending and a girl waiting to be rescued?

Fairy tales mostly originated in Europe, and have been a part of (not just) their culture since time immemorial, have many versions, some ghastly, but mostly dreamy. Since Literature is a reflection of the time and society of its origin, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty had not just beauty in common, they were also all missing in action. Trapped, they had no option but to wait for a man to save them and when he did, their happy ending was marriage. These damsels in distress were all dependent on someone else, sometimes supernatural intervention and sometimes Prince Charming, to change their fate.

Well, today’s book will (thankfully!) change your definition of fairy tales and here are 5 reasons to give Sowmya Rajendran’s Girls to the Rescue a shot:

Go Girl Power!

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.

Trashing stereotypes

Sowmya Rajendran’s Girls to the Rescue debunks the idea of marriage/love as an only happy ending and makes women their own saviours. These modern women are out to change the definition of fairy tales and they do it like a boss.

A witty fairytale makeover

Sowmya Rajendran respins these fairy tales with wit and humour. Her narration is full of unexpected but welcome twists and incredible endings.

Goodbye old notions

The book not only challenges how we see gender roles but also changes the notions of beauty, happiness and perfection.

Because no bird likes being caged

She shows that every cage comes with an escape route, you just have to be crazy enough to see it and brave enough to try it. So, get set and fly high!

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends this one for all you fairy tale lovers, from age 7 to 100 (Middle Readers), who are bored of the Prince always saving the day and find Damsels in distress annoying and offensive.

Master Mythologist

Mythology is a very important part of growing up. We’ve all grown up with stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, stories of Yudhishthira’s wisdom, Hanuman’s devotion and Krishna’s mischiefs. These stories, more than teaching us ideal behavior, introduced us to the supernatural, to Gods coming to earth to save humanity, to flying horses and shape- shifting men. These stories have not only been used by generations to pass on a sense of right and wrong but also are the basis for passing on imagination.

Author, illustrator, speaker, mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik does just that. He has written more than thirty books, both for children and adults, many of them bestsellers. He retells mythology for the current generation, spreading culture and passing on wonder.

Here are five reasons everyone, kids and adults, should read mythology Devdutt Pattanaik style.

Easy breezy style

His writing is meant for the current generation and so he keeps the language simple and to the point, which succeeds in dazzling the reader.  The best part about his narration is that he gives information in small doses, so that it does not overwhelm the reader and at the same time manages to keep their interest (an important feat when writing for children).

Free from teachings

Mythology on a lot of levels aims to teach and preach a certain way of living, thinking. Thankfully Devdutt Pattanaik does not take that route. His renditions are free of bias or opinions which makes them all the more charming as this gives the reader a chance to make their own interpretation of the characters and draw their own conclusions.

Pashu: Animal tales from Hindu Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

Pashu: Animal tales from Hindu Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

Making age-old stories more accessible for the younger generation

Imagine Krishna at an Airport or Shiva playing charades with kids! The Gods in the 21st Century! What an incredulous sight that would be and Devdutt Pattanaik brings it to life in Fun in Devlok Omnibus. He makes Gods relatable, lovable and accessible. He makes it easier and fun to understand the Divine.

Endearing illustrations

Illustrations are a very friendly medium to ease into complex themes and make them all the more engaging and Devdutt Pattanaik’s illustrations are both engaging and fun.

Modern mythology

Devdutt Pattanaik challenges another convention by narrating the women’s side of the story, the many versions of it. He takes a very fresh route of retelling the Ramayana from Sita’s point of view and the Mahabharata from Jaya’s point of view, which makes his versions more appealing to the current generation.

Jaya: an Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik

Jaya: an Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik

Bookistaan Recommends

For Younger readers (Age 7 onwards)

  • Fun in Devlok Omnibus
  • Pashu Animal Tales from Hindu Mythology

For Middle Readers (Age 11 onwards)

  • Sita (Illustrated Retelling of Ramayana)
  • Jaya (Illustrated Retelling of Mahabharata)
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