friendship Posts

Vibha Batra’s “Pinkoo Shergill”

This book is utterly perfect! In terms of story, plot, pacing and literary craftsmanship. It makes one chuckle with delight as the antics are so believable. The manner in which Vibha Batra has inhabited a child’s world is very well done.

Ten-year-old Prabhjot Shergill aka Pinkoo adores baking. He dreams of making Olympic history by winning the gold medal at the Bake-a-Thon event. Instead he has to settle for sneaking into the kitchen to bake exquisite creations while the adults are preoccupied with other stuff. Sometimes it is at the cost of skipping his shooting classes that his father insists upon. Pinkoo is not interested in living out the dreams of his late grandfather or father as a shooter, instead he prefers to be a world class baker.

Aided and abetted by his best friend Manu and his pestilential little cousin, Tutu, the kids hatch a plan of getting Pinkoo to participate in the international programme, “The Great Junior Bake-a-Thon”. The competition is slated for an Indian edition, to be recorded in Chandigarh and finals in Mumbai. They are assisted by their classmate Nimrat, who they don’t particularly like, but her father runs the best coffee shop in Patiala, offering the best confectionary for many miles around. Nimrat persuades an ex-baker of her father’s, Chef Khanna, to train Pinkoo. The only reason that Nimrat assists Pinkoo is that she overheard him being taunted in the school canteen by the school bullies for wanting to become a pastry chef. “He’s such a girl!” Nimrat is so irritated by this remark that she grimly determines that “these idiots need to learn a lesson” and marches Pinkoo off to a tete-a-tete with a professional baker.

Pinkoo Shergil: Pastry Chef by Vibha Batra ( Scholastic India) is about Pinkoo’s training, the competition and persuading his very stern father to attend a baking competition. Papaji was of the opinion that “the kitchen is no place for a boy”. It is a fun, fun, fun book that upends a lot of stereotypes with a delightfully light touch. It is a book that generates a happy spot in one’s mind and at the same time gets various “messages” across without being didactic. The best one is saved for the last — whatever you do, give it your best shot and “don’t give up”, irrespective of ups and downs. The story is beautifully complemented by the zany black-and-white illustrations by Shamika Chaves. The buzz and excitement of the youngsters, who at the best of times are like little drops of mercury, is enhanced by the exuberant page design enabling certain words to pop out of the page. It emphasizes the rhythm of the text too. All in all, a gorgeous book!

Buy it. Share it. Read it. Donate it to school and community libraries. Pass on some of the love and joy. All of us could do with some.

4 August 2021

Picture Books


Gorgeous selection of  picture books from Scholastic India. Incredible illustrations. Fantastic stories.

Lucia And Lawrence by Joanna Francis celebrate friendship, respecting boundaries and differences between gregarious Lucia and reserved Lawrence.

The Great Zoo Hullabaloo! by  Mark Carthew and  Anil Tortop is a mystery, a gentle adventure and a magical escape, told sweetly in rhyme. Lovely! Lovely!

Aunt Grizelda Treasury Of Grim And Grisly Rhymes by  Anna Best and  Natalia Pavaliayeva has a whacky sense of black humour. Sufficiently macabre to get young readers hysterical with delight. The crazily dark yet full of light illustrations do immense justice to the poems.

The Robot Who Won’t Cry by  Karen Hidgson and  Madalina Dina is about Rusty who wishes to cry but is unable to, convinced that robots do not cry. His friends try and help him to cry, achieving unexpected results when they least meant it to happen. Warm little story about empathy and friendships.

Last Tree In The City by Peter Carnavas is about Edward who finds a tiny spot where a lone tree stands in the urban concrete jungle. One day the tree is cut down. Edward is saddened but then one day spots a sapling at the base of the tree stump. Apart from it being an environmentalist story if it is meant to be a modern twist to  Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, then Peter Carnavas’s book is far more preferable.

I Don’t Care Said Claire by Karen Hodgson and  Harriet Rowe is about a self-absorbed, stubborn and petulant Claire. Always with a frown on her face, Claire did whatever she pleased. The open ended conclusion to the picture book is a wonderful twist, a great conversation starter for children — what happened next?

Mr Darcy by  Alex Field and Peter Carnavas is another fabulous book on friendship, loneliness and socialising. It is about Mr Darcy, the reserved duck, and his circle of friends in Pemberley Park.

Brilliant haul of books from  Scholastic India. Reasonably priced too for the local market.Worth getting for school libraries and personal collections as they will give much more than the few pages of story.


8 August 2019

Dr Christian’s “Guide to Dealing with the Tricky Questions”

A brilliant book for children, adolescents, parents and educators on initiating conversations about tricky stuff. It is by Dr Christian Jessen, a British physician, television presenter and writer.

Watch this IGTV video posted on Instagram for more information:

17 June 2019

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