Handa’s surprise by Eileen Browne

The fifty-days Bookathon project.

 We ( Beanie , the daughter and I )are planning to read a book a day and blog about it for the next fifty days. Beanie  is three and can’t read yet , so I read to her. But I suspect she can identify clusters of words that she keeps seeing regularly. I thought I would be a Momazilla, but I have discovered that I not too demanding  . I just want her to learn at her pace. But increasingly I find that I need to do more research to keep her engaged as she is an extremely inquisitive kid . Hence this project.  This  book is an old favorite, but  I thought  that it would be the perfect book to  blog about and review this old ‘khandar’:) .  I will also be posting all the crafty stuff Beanie and I are going to indulge ourselves in as  a way to chronicle her milestones. Beanie  is a total DIY mini crafter and loves  activities that involve pasting and  cutting. And I am one happy mommy 🙂

Here is an attempt to document all the books that the daughter, Beanie and I enjoy reading together.

Book name : Handa’s surprise

Author : Eileen Browne

Book source : owned


Handa puts seven delicious fruits in a basket to take to her friend, Akeyo. But as she walks, carrying the basket on her head, various creatures steal her fruits. A monkey takes the banana, an ostrich the guava, a zebra the orange, an elephant the mango, a giraffe the pineapple, an antelope the avocado and a parrot the passion fruit. Handa walks on, wondering which of the fruits her friend will like best, oblivious to the fact that her basket is now empty. But then, behind her, a goat charges into a tangerine tree and fills Handa’s basket with the fruit. “Hello, Akeyo,” she greets her friend. “I’ve brought you a surprise.” But when she lifts off her basket, it’s Handa who gets the biggest surprise. Akeyo, meanwhile, is delighted, because tangerines are her favourite fruit! Eileen Browne also created “Through My Window” which was shortlisted for the Smarties Book Prize (1986), “No Problem”, “Tick Tock” and “Where’s my Bus?”.

Our thoughts 

I loved the simple prose that went along with the vibrant and beautiful illustrations. Simply breathtaking brush strokes that brings the African Savanah alive! The surprise element at the end is rather cute too. Needless to say , Beanie loved this book to bits, as she does anything that has vibrant illustrations in it . The words are easy and the flow is amazing. Great way to introduce them to fruits and animal that are found in Africa.The story-line is engaging so that 3 year olds can easily follow it. There were a few fruits that Beanie didn’t know from the list initially  (like the tangerine and avacado) , but now she knows the book almost by-heart.  I introduced her to this book almost a year back when she was more keen looking at the pictures and pointing at the animals. Now , she is  interested in ‘what happens next’ and the ‘story element’ .  There are lots of activities that can be planned around this book . 

Verdict : 
Bedazzled : ‘What a bloody brilliant book!’ 
Beanie : ‘Amma, I love it!’
Perfect for : 3-4 year olds 
A soaring Hi-five 🙂 

Pyar aur poetry by Roopa Menon

Book name : Pyar Aur poetry 
Genre: Romance 
Publisher : Indireads 
Copy source : Author 
Rating : 3.5 ***

Synopsis from Goodreads 

College beauty Arundhati Basu would rather stick her head in the proverbial oven than host this year’s Founder’s Day event with tongue-tied nerd, Nikhil Menon. Compared to the brilliant but elusive poet, D. G. Beckett, Nikhil is a green toad.

As Arundhati gets to know him, however, she finds herself oddly drawn to the shy geek, and he, in turn, grows in confidence as he spends more time with her. His hopes for a lasting relationship with Arundhati seemed to be within his reach.

If only she could forget D. G. Beckett!(less)

My review 

Sweet and intelligent , Pyar aur poetry isn’t one of those novels where the hero and heroine fall in love/lust- quarrel at the drop of a hat- patch up again-they live happily ever after. The protagonists , Arundathi and Nikhil have been conceived thoughtfully and are as different as chalk and cheese.Yet they share the love for words and literature. Arundathi’s snobbish attitude towards all things ‘Indian’ is the perfect foil for the very grounded Nikhil. What I also appreciated about the book was that the basis of the duo’s love is not infatuation or something superficial , but something deeper and more substantial – love for words and a respect that is born out of something more than just physical attraction.

At the core of the book is the question Nikhil raises – Why isn’t Indian writing considered on par with the Western literature? Why do people relate to scones, rather than the bhakarwadi? In a lot of ways Arundathi is a metaphor for a lot of Indian readers who are snobbish about their reading preferences.Wish there were more Nikhils in the real world to help them realise the value of Indian writers. I really liked Nikhil’s grandma’s character- what a bindass grandmom to have! Being a novella, one can easily finish the book in a few hours.Roopa writes beautifully and has a lovely command over the language. 

Overall , an intelligent enjoyable read with characters you can relate to.

About the author

Roopa Menon is a dreamer. Ever since she could remember she has been dreaming and imagining stories, conversations and characters. Her earliest memory is of leaving cups of cream for elves and pixies in her house. This was based on one of her most favourite books of the time- Enid Blyton’s Book of Fairies. She was 5 years old.
As for writing, it just happened to her one day. Is that possible?

Roopa Menon believes that she has some stories that she would like to tell. And some of them perhaps only she can.Pyar Aur Poetry is her first published work of fiction since 2001. It is, as she would like to call it, “a tapestry of youthful quests, longings, and arrogance.” Loosely based on her college experience in India she has ensured that she has remained faithful to fiction and her imagination. 

Review from Otee..

Posted on : Goodreads
Rating : ****/5

Disclaimer: this isn’t a proper review – it is a presentation of jumbled thoughts that I had about the book in no specific order (though I tried to organize it somewhat). It might resemble a badly organized bullet point presentation.

Overview: I’ve read “The Crossover Year” and enjoyed every bit of it.

The story is about the life of Sri Anu Prabha at that point in time when a girl heading towards discovering her life’s purpose.

The story narrated in first person, describes the events and dilemmas that one comes across in the course of their life.

It is authentic in the situations described, the dilemmas faced and the insights that one has in life, that it is relatable by any reader.

The pace though sedate is gripping enough to keep one absorbed throughout the book.

There are no exhilarating highs nor depressing lows in the book.

It is a humorous and a semi-light read.

It is difficult to assign a specific genre to it; it is much more than “chick-lit” and is not heavy on introspection to be classified as “contemporary literature” and certainly not “Romance”. It can perhaps be classified as a “coming of age” story.

The writing style and the language is, as usual, very good.
This is the 2nd book of Bhargavi’s that I’m reading and I can state authoritatively that it is miles better than the first book – Seven Across.

I’m putting down this book of Bhargavi’s as “Promising” and strongly recommend buying it – you won’t regret it.

Good luck with the launch Bhargavi.

What Sarita had to say..

Posted on Goodreads.com

At the outset, let’s get one thing out of the way. A love story and numerous scenes featuring physical intimacy have become the staple of the chick-lit genre. I guess one tends to expect them too. But herein lies the strength of the book – it doesn’t have these. The protagonist Anu, is married (she loves the husband very much, so there’s none of the predictable ‘devilishly handsome ex-boyfriend showing up suddenly’ plot point usually employed in such cases).

The Crossover Year is a story about all the changes and transformations that take place in Anu’s life over a year. It also just so happens to be the year she turns 30, but thankfully, the author does not burden the story with too much of that angst. Anu is married to a wonderful man, so all the changes happen mainly in her work and social life. It explores a very real situation of young smart career women trying to cope with life and society when they can no longer be defined by their work. And it’s written effortlessly with just the right balance of humour and insight.

In short, this book is about Anu learning to cope with her job situation, celebrate herself, take chances and trust herself as she explores the unknown beyond the big 3-0.

As a resident myself, I loved the whole ‘Madras’ness of the story, the insights and idiosyncracies that we locals smirk self-effacingly about and outsiders find downmarket or just plain silly. Spencer Plaza. Sandwiches outside Alsa Mall. Tamil mega serials.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Bhargavi’s next book – every female character in this book has the possibility of having a novel of her own. Maybe one friend’s love story, maybe her neighbours life after separation, maybe another friend’s coming out of the closet.

The author has carved a niche where there’s more to chicklit than just love and lust. However, my suggestion to her is that if she’s steering clear of the love-sex-infidelity route, she could consider increasing the stakes to create greater conflict while keeping her unique effervescent writerly voice intact!

First review for The crossover Year

The ‘firsts’ are always special.. And this review by Kirthi Jayakumar is super special because the lady in question is an awesome writer herself.. I’ve been so nervous the past few days about how the book will be perceived  and Kirthi’s review reinforced my desire to keep writing books without worrying about how well/badly they do..With every book , I’ve felt like I have carved out a portion of myself and put it out for the entire world’s scrutiny and that’s a scary thing for someone who treasures her personal space as much as I do. Anyway , no more rambling.. here’s what Kirthi had to say about the book

“When you start reading Bhargavi Balachandran’s Crossover Year, the first thing that strikes you is how effortlessly written it is. Right from the very proper language to the very charming and relatable narrative, Bhargavi has you hooked by sheer talent and skill.
Chasing the life and times of Sri Anuprabha as she hits the big Three-O – something she is terrified of – the book has a very sweet way of mapping the desi girl’s mind. At 29, Anu, as she calls herself, is a banker. All she ever wants to do is to don yoga pants, and traipse about the world without abandon. But alas – with things going crazy at breakneck speed, poor Anu winds up being forced to watch Tamil sitcoms that provide for mindless non-entertainment.
Faced with the prospect of turning 30 (YIKES!) and the fact that she simply wants to strap up and get a life, she decides to arm herself with her very own five-point-plan of action. Save for Sheldon Cooper, as the world has come to know, very few people can live with a flowchart to guide their every last move. As the global financial meltdown decides to rear its mighty ugly head, Anu finds that her plans are best reserved for the dustbin. What awaits her is an unexpected series of intensely crazy moments. Journeying with Anu as she falls, picks herself up, sometimes dusts herself, sometimes doesn’t, always moving on – not without the effervescent charm that is so inherent in her.
A lovely coming-of-age storyline, Anu’s narrative is not just relatable, but also very endearing. After you devour the last page of the book, you don’t look at The Crossover Year as a book anymore. Anu acquires a very clear personification in your mind’s eye – Bhargavi’s writing is definitely clever enough to awake imagination even in the dullest of minds. You feel like you have had an exchange with a friend sitting beside you, rather than reading words scrawled on a page. Read The Crossover Year by all means – you don’t want to miss out on Anu’s quest for her mojo! “

Watch this space for more reviews and book updates .. Sorry , I am too excited to do a proper blog post on something other than the book now. The Crossover Year seems like my entire life now 🙂  For once it doesn’t feel unatural googling myself 😉

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