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Meet Prem, an eleven-year old Torchbearer with an imagination!

Like any bored eleven-year-old with an imagination, Prem makes fantastic wishes. So when his father drags him to a monsoon-lashed Mumbai, Prem know it’s futile to dream of home. Instead, he wishes for a genie, a dragon and some superpowers. What he certainly doesn’t wish for is a quest to save some gods who are at the brink of extinction.

He finds that the gods’ last hope lies in the hands of those who channel the mysterious power of the Vedas. Caught in a cosmic crossfire, with a talking fish, some inventive monkeys and a few unexpected allies, Prem learns of his true identity-as a Torchbearer.

Here is an excerpt from this lovely book by A.B. Majmudar that talks about how Prem finds himself in Mumbai and all the wishes he makes.


Like any eleven-year old with an imagination, Prem Tripathi made fantastic wishes, especially when he was bored. And he had been bored a lot lately. His father, a professor of ancient Indian mythology, had decided to leave his university job in America to go work at an old research institute in Mumbai. After some sightseeing and a few nights spent at a nice hotel, they had come to a dilapidated old building where Professor Tripathi could bury himself in old Sanskrit manuscripts.

The research institute must have been abandoned for years. Prem and his father had gotten into a fight as soon as they had arrived at the institute. Prem didn’t understand why he had to be there instead of enjoying a typical summer vacation under the blue skies of Midwestern United States: riding bikes, whizzing down waterpark slides, going on roller coasters and playing football with his friends in thebackyard. Instead, his father had dragged him all the way to India, and not the exotic India of The Jungle Book.

The Torchbearers||A.B. Majmudar

‘I can’t believe I’m here, about to be devoured by cockroaches,’ Prem had grumbled to himself. ‘Or geckos.’

Professor Tripathi had smiled, ignoring Prem’s frustration. ‘You know, when you were a baby, you used to coo at the geckos. Kept you entertained for hours.’ Although Prem had been born in India, his father had left with him for America after Prem’s mother had passed away. They hadn’t been back since then.

Now, a few weeks since they landed in Mumbai, Prem had finished reading all the books he had brought with him. So he spent the morning avoiding his dad, who was probably involved in either dusting or research, and soon found himself bored, leaning against the chalky gray wall surrounding the institute, watching the monsoon clouds roll in. Seeing the blue sky suddenly covered in storm clouds made him scowl. ‘Just like my life,’ he mumbled.

Prem glowered up at the sky. The air seemed to hold its breath, and even the stray dogs stopped barking for a moment. Then, with a faint flash of lightning and a distant rumble of thunder, the first raindrop fell. Big, warm drops of water splattered into the dirt, disappearing instantly. Soon the drops darkened the ground, and puddles formed in the dust on either side of the road.

‘So this is the monsoon,’ Prem said to himself as he raced to stand under a large tree. His black hair was slick in minutes despite taking cover, his shirt soaked through. With a shrug that seemed to say, ‘What’s the point?’ Prem stepped out from under the tree. He cupped his hands and let the rainwater fill his hands. He released the water with a satisfying splat onto the soaked ground. He did it again. With every handful of water, he made a wish. Wish, splash. Wish, splash. At first, he wished it would stop being so hot. But then, he figured, why not wish big?

So, Prem wished for a letter by owl post, ideally from Hogwarts, but any decent wizarding school would do. Wish, splash. He wished for a tollbooth to take him to lands beyond. Wish, splash. Rabbit hole, splash. Genie, splash. Dragon, splash. Hot-air balloon, splash. Superpowers, splash. Anything that would break the string of boring days, splash. Anything that would lead to adventure, splash. The one thing that Prem was sure he hadn’t wished for was a tiny talking fish. But, of course, that’s exactly what he got.

He had just collected yet another handful of water when a tiny fish dropped into his hands. Wish, splash, fish.

It called out to Prem in a tiny voice, ‘Don’t drop me!’

Prem looked closely at his hands, stilled in a cup. He saw a golden fish, smaller than his fingernail, floating in his hand. He peered at the fish. It was shimmering, despite the cloudy skies, like a flame.


Who is this talking fish and what adventures will Prem find himself in after this moment? Get a copy of The Torchbearers to find out!

Three James Patterson Titles your Little Ones Shouldn't Miss

James Patterson has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today and has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers.
From Hero to Zero is his latest book, in which Rafe visits the incredible city of London with his class. Out of all of his adventures, this trip could prove to be Rafe’s most embarrassing yet, undoing everything good he has going for him back home!
Here are three titles in The Middle School series by him that your little ones must read.
From Hero To Zero

 
After a mostly-successful stint at Hills Valley Middle School, Rafe is excited to visit the incredible city of London with his class. But it’s no surprise that Rafe’s bad luck follows him across the pond, putting him in one crazy situation after another – all under the watchful eye of his bad-tempered principal.
The Nerdiest, Wimpiest and Dorkiest

 
Comedian Jamie Grimm can’t help feeling like he’s reached the top – he has his own smash hit TV show and he’s won a national funny-kid competition. But now he’s taking his fame and fortune to international levels by competing in the upcoming world kid comic contest! Will Jamie prove that he’s the funniest kid on earth – or does he stand (or sit!) to lose his crown?
Dog Diaries

 

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I’ve been waiting for ages to tell my story, and now it’s finally happening! Being Rafe’s dog isn’t always easy, but it is always EXCITING! I’ve got so much to tell you about:
-How I protect the yard from birds, raccoons, squirrels, raccoons, mail carriers…and did I mention RACCOONS?
-Sniffing pooch posteriors for the latest canine news.
-And the terrifying monster hiding in the hall closet: the vacuum cleaner!

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Your Puffin Reads this Autumn

This autumn, we have a list of books full of adventure for your little ones! You can send them to solve a mystery with Feluda and Topshe or to meet the ghosts from Ruskin Bond’s world. They can hang with the two most popular avatars of Lord Vishnu or read Sonia Mehta’s fun series on how to deal with feelings!
Here is the list of Puffin Reads to choose from:

Feluda Omnibus by Satyajit Ray


Including three unputdownable mysteries by master storyteller Satyajit Ray, this omnibus edition is the perfect introduction to the greatest exploits of Feluda and his sidekick, Topshe. Traversing fascinating landscapes and electrifying escapades, this collection is an absolute classic and a must-have for fans of detective fiction.

The Upside-down King by Sudha Murty


The tales in this collection surround the two most popular avatars of Lord Vishnu-Rama and Krishna-and their lineage. Countless stories about the two abound, yet most are simply disappearing from the hearts and minds of the present generation. Bestselling author Sudha Murty takes you on an arresting tour, all the while telling you of the days when demons and gods walked alongside humans, animals could talk and gods granted the most glorious boons to common people.

Wind on the Haunted Hill by Ruskin Bond


A gritty, hair-raising story about friendship, courage and survival from India’s favourite teller of tales, this stunning edition is an absolute must-have to introduce young readers to the magic of Ruskin Bond’s craft.
 

Dealing with Feelings Series by Sonia Mehta


Sonia Mehta is a children’s writer who believes that sparking off a child’s imagination opens up a world of adventure. Here is a list of books by her, that your little one will enjoy (and learn from)!

  1. Being Happy Is Fun
  2. It’s not nice to be jealous
  3. It’s okay to be confused
  4. Being Sad isn’t any fun
  5. Being Bored isn’t fun
  6. Being Silly is Silly

 

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Meet the Caravan Family

Everyone at school calls Mike, Belinda and Ann the Caravan Family, because they live in two caravans. The children live at school from Monday to Friday in term-time, and come back to the caravans at weekends. Their lives are full of adventure, as we can see in Enid Blyton’s The Family Series.
Let’s meet the family!
Ann is the youngest, and the baby of the family. Before the family’s trip to New York her parents are talking about sky scrapers and she says:

“‘I’d like to climb up to the top of one and catch a cloud,’ said Ann. ‘I’d tie it to my wrist and fly it like a balloon.'”

Mother is caring and kind, and before her and Daddy’s trip to America she tells the children, who are going to stay with their aunt and uncle on Buttercup Farm:

“‘Now mind you’re good and helpful,’ said Mummy. ‘And be kind to everyone, and remember to say your prayers every single night, and be sure to put Daddy and me into them.”

Responsible Belinda, when helping to take care of the hens at Buttercup farm, tells her aunt:

“‘I won’t get tired of it and give up. I promise I won’t. Well – if I do get tired, I still won’t give up! Will that do?'”

Daddy loves to take his family on holidays and adventures. When the children start to ask him if they can go to the beach, he says:

“‘Well, before you begin, let me break the news to you,’ said Daddy firmly. ‘Whatever ideas you’ve got in your head have got to come out. I’ve no money to spend on a summer holiday by the sea! That is – if you want to go to a hotel. The only thing I can do for you this summer is to let you go away somewhere fresh and new in the caravans.'”

Mike, who makes a selfless decision when their cabin on the ship has only one bed by the port-hole:

“He looked longingly at the bed by the porthole. He badly wanted it himself, but he was very unselfish with his two sisters.”
 

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Quotes to Celebrate Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl is one of the most beloved authors of our time and has encouraged children world over to read. Known to use fun, self-created words, he has created a magical world for children to grow up in, inspired from his own life as well as his imagination. With plenty of laughter and lots of lessons to be learnt, his books are the perfect companion for children (and adults too!).
On occasion of his birthday, we got together quotes from fifteen of his books to remind us why we love him so. Take a look!

“A life is made up of a great number of small incidents and small number of great ones.” – Going Solo
“It is almost worth going away because it’s so lovely coming back.” – Boy
“Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything? Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first.” – James and the Giant Peach
“No book ever ends, when it’s full of your friends…” – The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, as long as somebody loves you.” – The Witches
“You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” -The Twits
“The magic finger is something I have been able to do all my life. I can’t tell you just how I do it, because I don’t even know myself.” – The Magic Finger
“What I have been trying so hard to tell you all along is simply that my father, without the slightest doubt, was the most marvelous and exciting father a boy ever had.” – Danny The Champion of the World
“A little nonsense, now and then, is relished by the wisest men.” – Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install,
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
“I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.” Fantastic Mr Fox
“For a few brief moments he had touched with the very tips of his fingers the edge of a magical world.” – George’s Marvellous Medicine
“Tortoise, Tortoise get bigger, bigger. Come on Tortoise grow up, puff up, shoot up! Spring up, Blow up swell up! Gorge! Guzzle! Stuff! Gulp! Put on fat, Tortoise, Put on fat! get on, Get on! Gobble food!!” – Esio Trot
“If you are good, life is good.” – Matilda
“’Meaning is not important, said the BFG. ‘I cannot be right all the time. Quite often I is left instead of right.’” – The BFG

The Puffin Back to School Reading Challenge

The Puffin Back to School Reading Challenge is the much needed break from school work your child needs.
‘Tis the season…for Back to school shopping but what better things to buy your kids, than some fun companions: books!
We know it’s that time of the year when summer vacations are a throwback to the lazy and fun times spent with your kids. However, reading with your kids can be the perfect opportunity to make new memories.
We have an exciting reading challenge that will not only help your young learners discover their interests but also help sensitize them to important topics in their formative years.
From breaking gender stereotypes to solving engaging math puzzles and exploring foreign lands, we have amazing recommendations for kids in Kindergarten to Middle school.
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For 4-7 year olds:
 

Peppa Pig: Peppa Plays Cricket by Peppa Pig
It is a very sunny day. Perfect for a game of cricket! Daddy Pig teaches Peppa, George and Suzy Sheep how to play cricket in the garden, followed by the most important part of the game – taking a break for tea and cake! Everyone loves cricket, especially Daddy Pig!
The perfect book for your little cricketers, teaching them the rules of the game as well as teamwork and sportsmanship.
 

Eric Carle’s Book of Many Things by Eric Carle
Children will have hours of fun learning first words and first concepts in this beautiful book from the creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  From food and clothes to animals and feelings, this is the perfect way for little ones to learn what they need to navigate their busy worlds.
 

Pink and Blue by Ritu Vaishnav (Author), Vishnu M Nair (Illustrator)
Pink is for girls. Blue is for boys
Girls play house. Boys play cricket
Cry like a girl. Kick like a boy
Sometimes grown-ups can say silly things that just aren’t true–not for all kids anyway! This book is an attempt by a mum to start a conversation with her little one about gender stereotypes. It encourages kids to question these notions before they begin to shape their thinking and offers adults an opportunity to initiate this very necessary discussion.
 

Helping Others Is Cool (My Book of Values) by Sonia Mehta
Nicky and Noni both badly want to win the School Champ contest, so they’re much too busy to help anyone around them. But along the way, they realize what it takes to be an all-rounder. What do they learn? Read on to find out.
 
For 8-10 year olds:
 

Middle School: Hero To Zero by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
After a mostly-successful stint at Hills Valley Middle School, Rafe is excited to visit the incredible city of London with his class. Sightseeing around a foreign country sounds like a blast, until Rafe finds out his roommate will be none other than Miller the Killer, bully extraordinaire! And it’s no surprise that Rafe’s bad luck follows him across the pond, putting him in one crazy situation after another–out of all of his adventures, this trip could prove to be Rafe’s most embarrassing yet, undoing everything good he has going for him back home!
 

Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery (Detective Nosegoode 1) by Marian Orlon
At first glance, Mr Ambrosius Nose Goode seems to be a perfectly ordinary older gentleman.
But appearances can be deceiving: this unimposing man was once a famous detective and his dog isn’t an ordinary mutt either – he can talk! When a mysterious man with a fake black beard comes to town and a music box goes missing from the workshop of clockmaker Mr Ignatius Blossom, the two friends begin to investigate.
 

Globe Trotters by Arefa Tehsin (Author), Nafisa Nandini Crishna (Illustrator)
Hudhud is horrible to everyone. He polishes off his classmates’ lunches, plays cruel pranks on his teachers and troubles innocent creatures. Until his strange new history teacher decides to set him straight.
The lesson? A curse! Now Hudhud must roam the vast earth . . . with-and as-the greatest migratory animals. And so begins Hudhud’s remarkable journey.
Follow Hudhud on this surreal trip, through the Arctic Ocean and the Sahara Desert, among fragrant flowers and tall grass, and find out all about the inner lives of some majestic animals and the wonders of the wild.
 

The Cloudfarers by Stephen Alter
Paramount Academy is nothing short of a prison. As Kip comes to terms with this awful military-style school, he makes new friends who have a terrible secret: they are Cloudfarers-a lost tribe of beings from another planet, who have been exiled on earth. And they need his help to get back to their land, away from Principal Captain Lovelock, who is on to them. But time is running out . . .
Join Kip and his friends as they embark on a stormy adventure on the clouds and through dangerous cliffs and mountains to reach a safe haven.
 
For 10-13 year olds:
 

The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman
What Lila wants to be more than anything else in the world is . . . a Firework-Maker!
But firework-making is not just about being able to make Crackle-Dragons and Golden Sneezes. There is also one special secret: every Firework-Maker must make a perilous journey to face the terrifying Fire-Fiend!
Not knowing that she needs special protection to survive the Fire-Fiend’s flames, Lila sets off alone. Her friends, Chulak and Hamlet – the King’s white elephant – race after her. But can they possibly reach her in time?
 

Maths Sutras From Around The World: Speed Calculations On Your Fingertips by Gaurav Tekriwal
Learn how to be quick and better at Maths with this well-researched book that has an amazing collection of mathematical techniques from around the world. Explore ingenious maths concepts and systems, and try your hand at popular puzzles like KenKen, Kakuro and Alphametics. Who says maths can’t be fun?
 

My First Book of Money by Ravi Subramanian and Shoma Narayanan
They say time is money. But they never really tell you why. They say money doesn’t grow on trees. But they don’t tell you where it comes from. Aman and Anya are as clueless about cash as you are. Then, they start asking questions. Egged on by clever Dadi and forthcoming Mom and Dad, Aman and Anya learn what finances are really all about.
So go ahead! Read on for a rollercoaster ride through the world of money.
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Look out for our Independence Day reading challenge next week!
 

Is your child down with FIFA fever? We’ve got friends to keep them company

As the final match of the FIFA World Cup approaches, we’re getting more and more excited! To keep the excitement going, we’ve put together a list of our friends from the world of Puffin who are into football as well!
Here are excerpts from two books they feature in, that your child is bound to love. Let’s read football!
Chintamani Dev Gupta a.k.a Chintu from Lost in Time
As the twenty-two players faced each other and shook hands before the kick-off, I could have sworn the IPS team’s striker in front of me gave me a death stare. I looked away coolly, instead watching the referee, a tall man with unnaturally huge biceps, come forward for the toss. The coin was flipped and both teams were stationed by the captains in their positions. It was now or never. I had been anticipating this moment for such a long time.
I could feel the tension balled up in my stomach, coursing down my arms, in every muscle of my body. Then I heard the piercing whistle. We will win this fight, I told myself. And I was in action, powerfully flitting from side to side to guard my post.
The first half of the game was uneventful, neither team having been able to score. A substitute on the IPS team, who was called in after half-time, ended up playing way better than the key player and made us rather anxious. A few free kicks that went wide and some throw-ins later, the score still remained unchanged. The match had now come down to its last ten minutes. With neither team having a goal on the scoreboard, it was still anyone’s game. We just had to find a way to break the deadlock.
To top that, the IPS striker had come way too close to scoring a few goals in the second half, and I could almost feel the pressure weighing me down like a millstone. Five minutes on the clock and he was going for it yet again. The crowd erupted wildly over the striker as he slowly made his way across the field, skillfully dribbling past our agitated defenders almost halfway from the centre line. Uh-oh, my mates were struggling. I knew it was time to brace myself. Now it was up to me. Very slowly, I bent my knees and locked my hands close to each other, my shin guards digging into my skin. My ears were ringing with the roars of exhilaration and anticipation from the audience.
In an unhindered moment, almost at the edge of the penalty box, my opponent bent backward ever so slightly and, with a powerful instep kick, shot the ball to the left. I just couldn’t gauge where it was headed for half a second, as it burst from a jumble of stomping feet. Would it swing out and miss the bar? No! It might just make it! Simultaneously I dived to the side, my hands outstretched desperately.
The microseconds slowed down, the past, the present and the future all coming together as I soared towards the hurtling ball. I stretched every muscle of my body and steeled every nerve, until I was slicing through the air like a bird, a bee, a butterfly. Like a boy who had flown through the air before. I could feel someone, something, lifting me higher and higher until the tip of my middle finger kissed tough leather and I became one with the goal. I was the goal.
We won.
Amar Kishen a.k.a. Butterfingers from Goal, Butterfingers
A nervous Jayaram tried to instil confidence in his team. ‘We need not one but two goals. Get them!’ He replaced Kishore and Arun with Pratyush and Ujjal. The double substitution paid off as Ghana began to dominate the match. Argentina was content to sit back and try to hold on to its lead. As time ticked by, Ghana was still looking for that elusive goal, despite the best efforts of Jayaram who, in frustration at not finding an opening, began to attempt shots whenever he found himself with the ball. Tempers began to fray when Arjun received a pass from Ajay and shot it past Visudh to score what he thought was the equalizer; unfortunately it was called offside. Arjun began to argue fiercely with Mr Sunderlal and stopped only after Jayaram intervened.
As the game got rough, Dipankar of Argentina pulled Arjun’s hair hard and brought him down, then tripped and fell over him. Arjun landed on his injured hand and took full advantage of that by holding his hand and stomach in turn and writhing in pain. Mr Sunderlal looked a little suspicious, but Arjun continued to moan. Showing Dipankar a yellow card, Mr Sunderlal awarded Ghana a penalty that was neatly converted by Jayaram. After that, in spite of vigorous forays by the forwards of both teams, no goals were scored. Argentina came pretty close to going ahead but Amar brought off a spectacular save, jumping high and tipping the ball away.
When it was full time, the two teams were locked at 2–2, and it was time for the penalty shoot-out. With the ‘vuvuzelas’ providing plaintive and jarring background music, Ishaan took the first penalty for Argentina, kicking the ball high into the right corner while Amar, judging wrongly, went to the left. Next Jayaram, after taking his time, took the kick, missed and hit the crossbar. ‘Oh no!’ said Kiran, dismayed. ‘Wearing Gyan on his shirt and missing a penalty like him!’ A roar went up from Argentina’s supporters while Jayaram just sat down, face in hands until Abdul gently led him away. But the next shot from Milosh was beautifully saved by Amar who, smartly anticipating the direction this time, fell over the ball and saved it. Arjun was given the ball and in an audacious move that had everyone gasping in disbelief, turned quickly and did a backflick penalty kick that luckily for him found the net.
Arya took the next penalty and slipped as she was about to kick, causing the ball to roll to a stop before the goal line. Shoulders hunched, she forlornly joined her team and burst into tears. Ujjal’s kick was fast and furious and Visudh just couldn’t get to it. Hitesh who took the next penalty sent the ball high to a corner of the goal. Amar didn’t have a chance. It was Ghana’s turn next and Pratyush’s shot was in. Visudh himself came to take his team’s fifth penalty. His team huddled around him and there was a hush around the grounds. If he missed, Ghana would win. Jayaram went to talk to Amar. Visudh took careful aim and kicked it beautifully over Amar’s head but Amar bounced high as if he had anti-gravity paste on his shoes and got the tip of one finger to it. Though he hurt his finger badly, the ball’s trajectory got altered and it rolled out of harm’s way.  Ghana had won the World Cup!

Meet Judy Moody, The Queen of Moods!

Judy Moody is a third grader with plenty of attitude and a mood for every occasion. This delightful series, created by Megan McDonald, is loaded with laughs and moments of wisdom as readers follow Judy through her hilarious adventures.
The fabulous Judy Moody will delight any child who’s known a bad mood or a bad day—and managed to laugh and learn along the way!
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10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Glorious Rani Lakshmibai

Sonia Mehta is a children’s writer who has been writing and curating content for children for over two decades now. She conceptualized and directed the Cadbury Bournvita Quiz Contest, and has also authored several children’s activity books for Disney including the popular Chhota Bheem franchise. In her latest book titled Rani Lakshmibai, Mehta recounts the historic rule of the glorious queen.
Here are ten facts we discovered about the brave heart- Rani Lakshmibai that you should know too:
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Puffin’s 10 most Iconic and Popular Reads

To celebrate 30 glorious years of Penguin in India, Puffin presents a selection of 10 of its most iconic and popular books. This will be a beautifully packaged special edition series of the best of children’s literature. It will include the bestselling works of literary doyens spanning both fiction and non-fiction that are a must-have on every shelf.
Let’s have a look at these 10 hand-picked gems.
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  1. Letters From a Father to his Daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru
  2. How I Taught My Grandmother How To Read and Other Stories by Sudha Murty
  3. Malgudi Schooldays by R. K. Narayan
  4. My India by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
  5. Pashu by Devdutt Pattanaik
  6. The Adventures of Rusty by Ruskin Bond
  7. The Incredible History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

    8. The Puffin Book of World Myths and Legends by Anita Nair

    9. The Puffin History of India: Volume 1 by Roshen Dalal

    10. The Village by the Sea by Anita Desai