A #LittleReader’s Quaint Little Library

Writer Heena Khan on her 7-year-old cousin's magical world inspired by his favorite books and characters.
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Mihran loves to read. He loves being among the fictional characters he befriends. He brushes his teeth reluctantly as if that very moment could have been spent climbing up the ‘Faraway tree’ or befriending Noddy. He loves Snowy, Tintin’s faithful white Wire Fox Terrier and is always pushing his mother to buy him a dog so that he too could get some help catching criminals. Despite being only seven-years-old, he already owns a set of test tubes in which he makes Professor Snape’s magic potions, dreams of owning a broomstick and grabbing a snitch out of his nosy next door dog’s mouth.

In short, Mihran, my cousin, loves to read and dream. And I love to see him read and hear of his dreams. Just going through his library that’s stacked next to his study table, opposite the wide-arched window, overlooking the porch, is a revelation. It’s an eye-opener into his world and the words that spill into his reality and mold his vision.

Here’s listing out his library and world:

1) The Enchanted Wood (1939) by Enid Blyton
Mihran speaks animatedly of Joe, Beth, and Frannie …the three kids who have just moved into their new home, next to a mysterious wood. Mihran tells me that this wood houses the wonderful Faraway Tree, on top of which appear strange new lands of stranger-still inhabitants. He talks animatedly of Moonface, Silky the fairy and Saucepan Man, the kids’ companions as they wade through from one adventure to the next. I am sure you would want your kids to be part of this series. Mihran is already onboard.

2) A Bear Called Paddington (1958) by Michael Bond/ Illustrated by Peggy Fortnum
Much before the King’s Cross Railway station (from the wizarding world of Harry Potter) became a part of Mihran’s globe, he got introduced to the Paddington station, where the Brown family found Paddington, the brown bear from the darkest Peru, wearing a hat and duffel coat. Each chapter, a stand-alone story, sketches the loveable antics of the bear, his over-literal interpretations of things, and the consequent sticky situations he gets himself into.

3) The BFG (1982) by Roald Dahl/ Illustrated by Quentin Blake
The BFG or the Big Friendly Giant, a 24-foot-tall superhuman giant, unexpectedly takes an orphan girl Sophie in his top pocket into the land of giants with one mission in mind – to rid the world of giants who eat humans. Sprinkled with the right amount of jokes, these warm-hearted stories manage to extract quite a few laughs out of Mihran. I am sure your kid will laugh along too.

4) Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007) by Jeff Kinney
This engagingly illustrated diary of Greg Heffley, an American kid who is always in and out of trouble, is a forthcoming dose for reluctant readers or children who are only beginning to read. The diary, replete with hilarious cartoons, records a year in Greg’s life, his many attempts at boosting his popularity (all of them falling flat) and follows his relationships with friends and family.

5) Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) by A. A. Milne/ Illustrated by E H Shepherd
For Mihran, his library is incomplete without stories about Pooh and company in the Hundred Acre Wood. The book focuses on the adventures of a teddy bear called Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends — a toy pig; a toy donkey Eeyore; a live owl and a live rabbit. Having read and re-read almost a dozen times, Mihran often recounts to me the episodes of birthday celebrations of Eeyore and about Pooh undertaking an important journey to the North Pole. You have to read it with your kid to see the magic of the woods work on your little one.

6) Beautiful Oops! (2010) by Barney Saltzberg
An interactive board book that inspires kids to make an opportunity out of every mistake – stain, smudge or tear. Beautiful Oops sounds off an important lesson, that, we all make mistakes…grown-ups and children alike; and that, kids need not take it too hard on themselves when they make one. Every accident can be made into something beautiful, with some imagination and thought. This inspirational dose lights up Mihran’s face at every flip every single time.

7) Guess How Much I Love You (2014) by Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram (illustrator)
With this book, your child will tell you just how much he loves you! And you can tell him in return that you love him twice as much because the Little Nutbrown Hare shows his daddy that he loves him as wide as he can reach and as far as he can hop. But Big Nutbrown Hare can reach farther and hop higher, and loves him back just as much and more. In this simple plot, the duo uses larger and larger still measures to quantify how much they love each other.

8) The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969) by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won over Mihran’s library with its colorful collage illustrations and a simple plot of hope. This is a story of a noble caterpillar, his insatiable appetite, and his journey to becoming a butterfly. Like Mihran, your kids too, have a lot to learn from the caterpillar.

9) Owl Babies (1975) by Martin Waddell, Patrick Benson (Illustrator)
Mommies, no matter where they go, return to their kids. Three baby owls wake up to find that their mother is not in the nest. They want their mummy back and so they step out into the big dark wood. The book offers pleasant silhouettes of the night and fluffy white owls.

10) Goodnight Moon (1947) by Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (Illustrator)
This is your end-of-day book, where a little bunny wishes goodnight to everything, from the moon to everything inside his softly-lit room…the picture of the three little bears, mittens, a red balloon, and kittens, among other things. The lulling poetry of words along with loveable illustrations makes for a perfect kiss-me-goodnight book. You have to read this out to your toddler as you tuck him or her in.

 

About the author:
Heena Khan loves to play along with the printed word, its idiosyncrasy, and temper, slopes, and slants. An observer, a myth-weaver, with an acute eye for the in-betweens, trust her to make up slant truths explaining every gap, twitch, and smirk. She need not be always right, but her version makes for believable stories. Read her rant at An Honest Duplicity.

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