Devika Rangachari's Favourite Children's Books
Dr Devika Rangachari is an award-winning children’s writer whose book, Queen of Ice, is on the White Ravens list. Her other books include Harsha Vardhana and Growing Up (on the Honour List of the International Board on Books for Young People).
The Elephant (Alexander Kuprin, Hutchinson’s Books for Young People, available for free on Internet Archive Books.) Little Nadya, who is wasting away from a mysterious disease, asks for an elephant and her parents are determined to fulfil her wish. This moving picture book made me understand that love can achieve the impossible.
The Six Bad Boys (Enid Blyton, Octopus Publishing Group, Rs 199.) This tale of six children from differing social contexts—Bob and Tom from troubled homes and the model Mackenzie kids—introduced me to the manner in which backgrounds shape personalities and destinies. It is, equally, a powerful affirmation of the magic of friendship.
Carbonel (Barbara Sleigh, Puffin Books, Rs 299.) Rosemary buys a broom and a cat, and is plunged thereon into a quest to restore the king of cats, Carbonel, to his kingdom and break the spell he is under. This book taught me as much about magic as loyalty and friendship.
Let’s Do A Play (Uma Anand, National Book Trust, Rs 20.) This was one of the first books I read that had a completely Indian context. I found its environment comfortingly familiar. A group of children decide to stage a play and this book documents their attempts to do so with gentle humour.
The School At The Chalet (Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Rs 5,412.) The first in a 62-book series that follows the adventures of the students of the Chalet School, this title deals with the school’s establishment in Austria. It was my first acquaintance with Austrian culture. Rereading this series as an adult is still a delight!
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Betty Smith, Arrow Books, Rs 599.) This poignant tale of an adolescent American who is determined to make something of her life despite her family’s straitened circumstances was, perhaps, one of the earliest books I ever cried over. It was my first acquaintance, in prose, with hardship, sorrow and the wonderful ability of the human will to triumph.
Daddy-Long-Legs (Jean Webster, Puffin Classics, Rs 350.) An orphan must write letters to her unknown benefactor as his sole condition for sponsoring her college education. She blossoms in her new environment. The novel delineates her journey to adulthood through her letters that also feature her enchanting line drawings. This book was my introduction to romance.
What Katy Did (Susan Coolidge, Vintage Classics, Rs 250.) Katy Carr would like to remain 12 but must navigate the bumpy journey towards adulthood. I was enchanted by Katy’s daring, awed by her strength in times of tragedy and excited by her eventual transition into a quietly determined young lady.
Up The Down Staircase (Bel Kaufman, Prentice Hall Press, Rs 1,253.) A young American teacher sets out to cultivate a love for literature among her students, confronts the realities of teaching in a less-than-ideal environment and ends up influen-cing the lives of her pupils in unintended ways. This epistolary novel introduced me to humour in prose and to the fact that teachers are also human!
Moin And The Monster (Anushka Ravishankar, Duckbill, Rs 199.) Moin discovers a monster in his room—but it is a monster with feelings and idiosyncrasies and, therefore, lovable and annoying, in turn. I read this book as an adult but it taught me so much about the power of the imagination. It is also one of the funniest stories I have ever read.
Book prices are subject to change.