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5 times Karma had us laughing out loud

All his life, Karma has defended his village from monsters, creatures and forces of darkness. He’s not the bravest or the smartest kid, but he always tries to do what’s right.

Through his latest adventure of stopping one of his classmates, who has shown up to school as a zombie, there are many instances where Karma has us amused. Here are 5 times Karma had us laughing out loud in Evan Purcell’s newest addition to the Karma Tandin, Monster Hunter Series – Karma Meets a Zombie


“Last month, I’d stopped a shark monster from eating my classmates. She was the school librarian. She even wore a fake human head on top of her shark head. I’d scared her off thanks to my bravery (and dumb luck), but not before she (I think) ate one of my classmates.”

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“We stood in silence for a long time. What else could we say? It’s hard to make small talk with the undead. After a bit, we started walking.”

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“Quick tip: if you’re surrounded by a screaming mob of people, don’t tell them to calm down. It does not work.”

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“But I couldn’t ignore a monster. That went against every belief I held dearly, every brain cell in my growing, twelve-year-old brain.”

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“I love Chimmi. He’s my closest friend. He’s always there for me. But he does not come up with good plans.”


Is this zombie really bad? Is he dangerous, or is he just under some horrible spell? Read Karma Meets a Zombie to find out!

5 asanas to raise stress-free kids!

We know it’s tough times – and especially when you have active and excitable kids at home.

Anxieties are running high, and the young ones are no different. But we have for you a trick that has proven to work for years – yoga!

Say hello to Om, our favourite yoga dog, who knows how to mix up fun and yoga for your kids to relax and go to bed happy and content.

Here are 5 asanas recommended by Om for your kids to try while staying at home:

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Tummy Sandwich

How many times have the kids been hit by hunger pangs? Food takes care of their tummies, sure, but make sure to balance out the tummy-care with this super fun asana!

 

  1. Sit up straight on the mat. Keep the legs together and stretch them out straight in front of you.
  2. Stretch your arms up over the head.
  3. Reach out to touch your toes, bending from the hip. Keep your back straight.
  4. Stay in this posture. Continue to inhale and exhale comfortably.

 

Dancer

Who doesn’t like to dance? Amp up yoga for the kids with this asana!

  1. Stand up and bend the right leg at the knee. Grab your big toe and pull it towards the head.
  2. Stay in this position for a few seconds, fixing your gaze on a point in front of you to maintain balance. Focus on controlled breathing to steady the posture.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

 

Warrior

This one is perfect for all the little warriors, fighters, boxers, and wrestlers in your house.

  1. Stand with your feet 3–4 feet apart. Raise your arms, keeping them perpendicular to the floor and parallel to each other.
  2. Bend your right knee, keeping it parallel to the ground. Keep your left leg straight.
  3. Reach your arms towards the sky. Arch your back.
  4. As you reach higher, try to bring your arms together.

 

Roaring Lion

Do your kids have a booming roar? For all the tigers and lions in the house – try this one out!

  1. Sit with your hips on the heels. Rest your palms on your knees, spreading your fingers like the claws of a lion.
  2. Raise the chin. Stretch your spine.
  3. Place your palms on the floor in front of the knees. Arch the spine and stickyou’re your tongue. Then ROAR like a lion!
  4. Come back to the starting position and repeat.

 

Savasanas

This one is the trickiest of the lot. Surprised? Well, we suggest being extra careful that they don’t fall asleep – perhaps make it a challenge?

  1. Lie down on the mat. Keep your hands and legs apart and your palms open. Relax.
  2. Close your eyes and breathe gently and slowly. Be absolutely still. Imagine that your breath is flowing through your body like a stream.
  3. Lie down in this position for a few minutes. Relax each and every part off your body.

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Om the Yoga Dog|| Ira Trivedi

 

Here’s to some fun and relaxing times with your kids and your family during quarantine. Om the Yoga Dog wishes you safety and wellbeing!

Remembering Some Words from India’s Most Loved Storyteller

We recently celebrated our most loved storyteller, Ruskin Bond’s 86th birthday. And as much fun as we had rediscovering his stories and hearing his words again – we can never really get enough of his stories.

As we continue to flip through his words, we decided to do a our own little round-up of some of his most powerful words and quotes that have stayed with us through the years.

 

On Unequal Struggles

 

On Human Truths and Sentiments

On Sadness and Fleeting Happiness

 

On Discomfort and Struggles

 

On Dreams and Reality

 

On Friendships 

 

On Battles of Life

 

On Making Your Own Music

 

On Childhood and Adulthood

 

On Focusing and Spending on the Right Things

 


 

Whether writing for adults or for his young audience, Mr. Bond’s words have always had a resounding effect on us, no matter how many times we revisit his stories. Which of his stories are closest to your heart? Share with us in the comments below!

Meanwhile, you can join us in celebrating his work and life at our Kindle Store!

 

Escape into the world of Satyajit Ray!

Penguin celebrated Satyajit Ray’s 99th birth anniversary last weekend, and like every year, this one too came with a lot of nostalgia over his stories that have stayed with us.

Satyajit Ray took our cinema, literature and overall aesthetic expression to a new height. He was an ace designer, music composer, illustrator and a gifted writer. Generations of readers, young and old, have found themselves enamoured of Ray’s characters and the world he created.

We bring you some gems from The Penguin Ray Library, an endeavour to capture the brilliance of this Renaissance man and our vision to disseminate his works to a wide spectrum of readership.

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The Complete Adventures of Feluda Volume 1

This omnibus edition features the ever-popular adventures of Satyajit Ray’s enduring creation, the professional sleuth Pradosh C. Mitter (Feluda). In his escapades, Feluda is accompanied by his cousin Topshe and the bumbling crime writer Lalmohan Ganguly (Jatayu). From Jaisalmer to Simla, from the Ellora Caves to Varanasi, the trio traverse fascinating locales to unravel one devious crime after another.

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The Complete Adventures of Feluda Volume 2

 

The adventures don’t stop with the first volume. This second omnibus volume holds more delights. Accompanied by his cousin Topshe and the bumbling crime writer Lalmohan Ganguly (Jatayu), Feluda travels from Puri to Kedarnath, from Kathmandu to London in his pursuit of culprits; he tracks down Napoleon’s last letter, a forgotten painting by Tintoretto and a stolen manuscript.

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Childhood Days

 

Childhood Days takes readers through legendary storyteller Satyajit Ray’s early life, exploring the people who were around him during his childhood, the places he spent the early years of his life in and the man we now know as an artist, music composer, director and writer. It displays the lesser-known side of Ray -affectionate, tender and humorous, quite different from the serious, introverted man the world knew.

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Indigo

Indigo brings together the supernatural, the peculiar and the inexplicable from Satyajit Ray, one of the best-loved writers of our times. There are tales here of dark horror, fantasy and adventure along with heart-warmingly funny stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

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Speaking Of Films

Speaking of Films brings together some of Ray’s most memorable writings on film and film-making. With the masterly precision and clarity that characterize his films, Ray discusses a wide array of subjects: the challenges of working with rank amateurs, and the innovations in the face of technological, financial and logistical constraints. This seminal collection of essays on cinema retains the lucidity and simplicity that is a hallmark of Ray’s writing, and gives an invaluable insight into the mind of a genius.

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My Years with Apu

Here, the filmmaker tells the story behind the making of his three films, the ‘Apu’ trilogy. Completed shortly before his death, the memoir covers the key aspects of his career: his decision to give up a lucrative job in advertising in order to make his first film, early setbacks, a chronic shortage of funds, the guidance and support of directors such as Jean Renoir, his solutions to problems, and the acclaim for his films at home and abroad.


To celebrate more timeless stories by the author and filmmaker, drop into our ebook store!

Nizrana Farook on the ‘Soggy Middle’ and Other Writing Challenges

A book that focuses on a character that steals not only the Queen’s jewels but also an elephant? How did Nizrana Farook, the author of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant,  come up with the idea for such a book?

Read the Q & A below and find out:

 

  1. What inspired you to write the book?

I’m not quite sure exactly how the inspiration for this book came. All I know is that I was writing a piece for a task on my MA and it turned out to be the first chapter of my book. It was only ever intended to be a short piece, but I was excited by the protagonist and setting and I just grew the story from there.

 

  1. Are there any characters that you can relate with from the book?

I’d like to say it’s Chaya, the protagonist, but in reality I’m probably more Nour than her. Her experience of leeches in the jungle was very much mine!

 

  1. How did you choose these characters?

Chaya came to me fully formed. I knew she was a thief but I had to work out her motivation for being one. I wanted her to have a friend who was a calming influence on her, so that’s how Neel came about. I created Nour because I felt that there needed to be someone who was an outsider to that world, so the reader could see the world and have some of their questions answered through her.

 

  1. Were the characters inspired by some people in your life?

Not really. I have taken bits from people I know and cobbled them together to form different characters, but no one is based fully on anyone.

 

  1. When did you start writing the book?

I wrote the first words in December 2016. So it took three years exactly to go from putting pen to paper (or fingers to laptop in this case) to the book being available in shops in the UK. It was a super speedy roller coaster of a ride – from finishing the manuscript to finding an agent and getting a publishing deal and then editing the book to publication.

 

  1. Were there any challenges?

Plenty! I started writing the book without any plan. I simply wrote the most exciting story I could think of without worrying about where it was going. At some point I had to stop and think it out. So the “soggy middle” of the book was the hardest part of all. The editing threw up many challenges, but thanks to my lovely editor Kirsty Stansfield, we got there in the end.

 

  1. Are you a dog person or cat person?

Cat.

 

  1. Pineapple on a pizza. Yes or No?

Definitely yes.


Will stealing the Queen’s jewels be the beginning or the end of everything for Chaya and her gang? Check out The Girl Who Stole an Elephant to find out!

 

Easter 2020: The World is a ‘Cave’

How to Survive These Times Through the Niti Teachings

What is it about caves? If you sit down to think, you’ll find that history is specked with stories (across regions) that feature this hollow space made by nature—right from our ancestors, the early man. The cave dwellings, then cave drawings (or perhaps first art galleries), and then we move to more sophisticated stories.

Moses and St. Elijah spent time in a cave. Maimonides, the foremost Judaic polymath wrote his seminal book while exiled in a cave. When Empress Helena visited Palestine in 327 A. D., she stated that the blessed Mother Mary conceived in a cave, gave birth in one, and eventually settled down to raise a family in one, too. In fact, Helena found many Christian mystics living as hermits in hillside caves. Then we have Catherine of Siena who went to a cave. And Prophet Mohammed heard the Koran for the first time in the Cave of Hira.

Moving closer home, we too have many stories about this hollow space. Tibet has the cave where the famous killer-turned-yogi Milarepa meditated. In Kashmir, the ancient Rishis would take abode in the many caves there. The luminous Abhinavagupta’s Bhairava Cave in Beerwah, J&K, is celebrated for transcendence. The Amarnath Cave is, of course, where the supreme secret was revealed. And moving down in southern India, we have the Virupaksha Cave of Ramana Maharishi, which is visited by hundreds of thousands.

So, what is the power of a ‘cave’? Is there a power of the cave? And how does a cave offer solution in a time like this—the pandemic?

Plato’s insightful Allegory of the Cave gives a hint that the outside is a shadow and truth lies elsewhere. In the book, Dawn The Warrior Princess of Kashmir, the final answer is given in the cave of Mount Kailash where Shiva meditates. It is there that Dawn, the sixteen-year-old protagonist who is also the last living woman in the world, lives, to be precise, in a cave called Trisarsha in the year 3000 AD. So, the cave becomes a “pod” where the senses die but it becomes a womb where something magical is born—the power of the last woman standing is manifested here.

On Sunday April 12th the Catholics will celebrate Easter Sunday while the Orthodox Easter falls on April 19th. The connection between Dawn and Easter is deep. Dawn or “Usha” in Sanskrit is the most important Goddess in the Rig Veda. She is the harbinger of the rebirth of life each morn. She is the only Indian Goddess who has spread around the world. Her cognates are Eos in Greek, Aurora in Roman, and Eostre in English, which is the root of the word Easter—the festival of resurrection. Interestingly, Usha is also the name of the sanctuary city where the Sanhedrin or Rabbinical Court fled to in the 2nd century.  It is important to remember that in addition to the celebrated Gayatri Mantra honoring her, she is also the Goddess of Order; the driver away of chaos and darkness. She is dawn, she is hope, she is resurrection.

Dawn is the key-holder to the ultimate life-hack—Niti—which is, simply put, the most powerful technology invented by humanity. Niti means “the wise conduct of life”. The Kashmirians maintained that one is born with only one birth right, namely the freedom to achieve what is one’s life quest. And what is the ‘way of life’ so that one can maximize one’s human potential? The Kashmirians defined life’s end goal in heroic terms as “unbounded fulfillment while alive” whether physical or meta-physical.

Niti’s promise is that it enables one to face any threat, any challenge to reaching one’s goal as one travels through Time and Space. These threats are the daily near-death forces in that they snip off one’s fulfillment in some way or the other culminating in the final death of an unfulfilled life. To become a ‘Niti Warrior’ is one’s birthright: the mark of a swatantra, free human. But what happens to Niti and the Niti Warrior during unprecedented times as the one where we are living now—during the Covid 19 pandemic which is an existential threat for all of humanity? What is the wise conduct here? How does Niti enable one to cause the Death of Death?

In the novel, Dawn states, ‘‘Health is the unrestricted movement of the body, mind and heart. This movement is powered by the bio-plasmic Life Breath.’

The Niti formula is quite explicit. It requires one to do deep learning; act bravely with compassion; and be with close friends. It was first articulated by Pandit Vishnu Sharma in the Panchatantra. The deep learning about the deadly virus is that the virus has understood humans better than even humans understand themselves. It has made our unrestricted movement its vector, used our strongest social instincts of physical bonding against us. The virus,  learnt this through mutation; so we must take that Darwinian learning and mutate ourselves. Mutate to a behavior of no movement and the virus dies. Remember that it is not the strong that survive but the ones who adapt. Change we must at the individual level, at the community level and at the level of humanity to survive.

And if the call comes then we must act bravely and with compassion. Not just the front-line essential services fighters—the doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery sellers, vegetable vendors etc.—but each and every one of us can contribute to this war. In this regard a very special Easter blessing awaits the Corona virus survivors—the ones who had the blessing to live through this. They can be the carrier of the born-again healing touch through contributing their anti-bodies which is verily the gift of Jesus Christ. What is essential, says the Niti way of life, is that we stay connected to our loved ones. That is what keeps our Shakti consciousness alive. If we follow this Niti formula, then Covid 19 will fail to take our life-breath away. We will then experience the next thing that Dawn realizes and states in the novel: ‘The property of our Life Breath is freedom. It is this freedom that leads to creativity.’

If we look at our current condition as an opportunity and just give ourselves the chance inside our cave, then we will discover that we are slowly but inexorably drawn towards creative activities whether it is something as fundamental as cooking or artistic such as  writing or painting or even spiritual expansion. Niti’s manifestation that is creativity is the ‘Life of Life’ which in turn is the cause of the ‘Death of Death’. And in the laboratories around the world it is the scientists who are detonating creativity. They will come up with not just one answer but multiple answers which will finish this scourge forever. That is the promise of Niti. And the Life Force will triumph again. So it has been so it will be.

Are you Smarter than Havaldar Hook?

Are you stuck at home and want to do something entertaining with the young ones? Havaldar Hook is here for you!

He wants you and your child to give him some answers!

Did you think Hawaldar Hook was done? He has some more questions for you!


Want to have more fun with Havaldar Hook? Check out our Hook Books: Hey Diddle DiddleA Quiet Girl ,Who’s There? and My Daddy and the Well

 

 

Psst… Here are answers for Worksheet 1:
Horse – Foal or Colt (male) or Filly (female)
Goat – Kid
Hen – Chicken

 

Answers for Worksheet 2:
You’ll just have to ask for help from people around you!

7 Asian Women who Fearlessly Pursued their Dreams

Through the ages strong, inspirational women and girls have risen in response to uncertainty and injustice. Fearless chronicles the journeys and stories of such amazing and strong women – demonstrating that one girl can change everything.

If you were looking to be inspired today, read about these 7 asian women who fearlessly pursued their dreams:

Shukria Khanum

Shukria Khanum was a female aviator – one of the first of her kind in Pakistan. She obtained a commercial pilot’s license despite women not being allowed to fly commercial planes at the time. She subsequently became a flight instructor  because she never gave up on her dream!.

Majida Rizvi

She was the first ever female judge of a Pakistani High Court and had a reputation for integrity and impartiality. Even after retirement Majida has continued to fight for gender equality and human rights in Pakistan.

Shamim Ara

Shamim began her career as an actress and subsequently became one of Pakistan’s leading ladies. But her true talent was producing and directing. She mastered what was at the time the male dominated area of cinema and she changed how women were portrayed in Pakistani cinema.

Zubeida Mustafa

Zubeida was an influential journalist at a time where there were very few women involved in the profession. She worked for Pakistan’s most influential and circulated daily, Dawn. Her stellar writing quality and persistence led her to a long and successful career in journalism.

Ameena Saiyid Obe

Ameena pursued her love of books by starting her own publishing company, Saiyid Books as well as working as Managing Director of Oxford University Press in Pakistan where she grew the company exponentially. She also cofounded the Karachi Literature Festival and is lauded for promoting the love of reading in Pakistan.

Shahida Malik

Shahida was the first high-ranking two-star female general in the Pakistani Army. Although she faced challenges and opposition from her male colleagues, she did not let it stop her and she went on to serve as the Deputy Commander and Inspector General of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps.

Quratulain Bakhtiari

Quratulain is a community activist, educationist and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. She has worked extensively with refugees and her efforts have led to the establishment of thousands of schools.


These are but a few examples of the tenacity and strength displayed by women in overcoming challenges and pursuing their dreams. You can read further about these women and many more in Fearless

From Picture Books to Hook Books- Why your Child Needs Hook Books!

The Hook Books are early chapter books for very young readers, aged five and above (for being read to) and six and above (for reading independently). Written by award-winning and most-loved writers for children, and illustrated in exuberant colour by some of India’s best illustrators, these stories are set largely in non-urban settings.

Why Hook Books? Sayoni Basu, editor of the Hook Books explains why you and your child should be reading these:

It is an accepted fact that every child reads at a different pace. Reading levels and grade targets and lexile levels work up to a point, but children’s actual reading abilities vary widely within these levels and frequently fall outside them on either side. This is especially true in India in the case of books in English—English might be the first, second or third language, and is introduced at different ages.

 

The challenge for authors and publishers is to therefore create books which can work for wide age groups. Books which are both simple and complex: with a vocabulary that works for kids of five and six, who are graduating from picture books to books with more words, yet with a story that would interest a reader who may be a lot older.

 

This was one of our goals in the Hook Book series.

 

The longer we work in children’s publishing, the more clearly we realise the impossibility of linking age group to reading ability. So we wanted to create books that satisfy the metro parents’ desire to fast-forward their child’s reading achievements, and yet allow children the pleasure of reading well-written stories that appeal to them.

 

The second goal we set ourselves is to have a diversity of experiences in these books. Many of our readers live in cities and are in many ways deracinated. Living within an urban bubble and interacting only with other children like themselves, it is easy for them to lose touch with the the fact that despite belonging to the same country, we are diverse in the way we look, the way we live, the religious practices we follow, and social habits. So one of our goals in this series was also to try to bring together stories of small towns from different parts of the country. This is done subtly, through the names of the characters and the lives that are depicted and through visuals. There is no explicit mention or discussion, but it brings the lives of people who are ‘different’ into the world of the reader.

 

The third goal is an educational value addition. We strongly believe that reading should be for pleasure and pleasure only, but we are sadly aware that a lot of the world does not share this view. And because we want our books to sell, we have given in to market pressure and created one exercise for each book. These exercises are carefully chosen to fit in with what children learn at school, so parents and teachers will be happy. But we also wanted to make these as enjoyable as possible for the child. And instead of quizzing kids about what is in the book, we use the story as a starting point for the child to explore the nuances of language and its usage.

 

So the Hook Books tick many boxes: they are attractive, well-written, fun to read, and are also educational, diverse and carefully crafted. We hope they will be an exciting and groundbreaking new series in the Indian children’s market.


It’s not a book, it’s a hook! Check out My Daddy and the Well, Who’s There?, A Quiet Girl and Hey Diddle Diddle.

The Curious Case of Havaldar Hook – An Interview

 

Havaldar Hook is the endearing mascot of the Hook Books, a new series for early readers for ages 5 and up. To get to know him better, we posed some questions and he very merrily indulged, with honesty and humour.

 

Q: You are a humble havaldar, but you now have a series named after you. How do you feel?

 

A: I’m not ‘a’ havaldar, my name is Havaldar, because my father thought that I would grow up and become a policeman. But I wanted to become a teacher. So I’m very happy that there is a such a fun series in my name. I love books.

 

Q: But, HH, you wear a police uniform. 

 

A: I wear the uniform because it makes my father happy. I believe that it’s all about one’s parents.

 

Q: You have asked a lot of questions at the end of the book. Do you believe all books should be educational? Can’t children just read for fun?

 

A: I’ll tell you a secret. The questions are not for the children. They are for the adults. Heh heh heh.  The children will be happy with the marvellous stories and illustrations. So I thought, let’s give the parents and teachers something to be happy about. Still, I made sure that the questions are not like textbook questions, so children can have fun with them too.

 

Q: If you could give our readers one piece of advice what would it be?

 

A: Never let your parents decide what you should do in life. Also, if your parents give you a silly name, you can change it officially. Sadly, no one told me this, so I’m stuck with the name Havaldar. It makes me very sad, because most children run away when they hear the words: ‘Havaldar is coming!’

 

Q: One slightly personal question:  how did your nose come to match your surname: Hook?

 

A: (preens in pride.) The Raja of Naakpur bestowed the surname Hook on my great-great grandfather in honour of this nose! All the Hooks in history since then have proudly sported this nose. The Raja had just come back from London, otherwise we’d probably have been called the Aakadas.

 

Q: Finally, Havaldarji, what would you like to change your first name to?

 

*Havaldar Hook went silent and thoughtful at this point and we are still waiting for an answer to this question.


Here are the Hook Books