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We asked some people who we know read a lot of Indian children’s and YA books to tell us about one (or more) really impressive book they read this year. We will be posting their replies over the rest of the month.

Bijal Vachharajani is a journalist and writer.

bijal

We are thrilled that Bijal has picked a Duckbill book as one of her two favourites, and we promise no arms were twisted–platypuses do not believe in list-fixing.

Talking of Muskaan took me by surprise simply because of its unusual and bold story. Muskaan came alive through the eyes of her peers, each of them in turn were marked by their own thoughts and attitudes. From homosexuality and inclusiveness to first crushes, bullying and social inequalities, the story is rife with issues that teenagers will be familiar with. This year seems to be the year of walking out of closets for YA literature and this book was a great way to start.

With The Tigers of Taboo Valley, one of my favourite nature writer is back and how. Ranjit Lal is at his best when he’s writing stories about the wilder side of life. As the alpha male of Sher-Kila National Park, Rana Shaan-Bahadur has plenty of tourists who come to take his picture, fawning tigresses batting their eyelashes at him and a photographer from National Geographic following the tiger most of the times. However, the big cat’s life changes when the gorgeous Raat-ki-Rani dies at the hands of a poacher and Shaan-Bahadur is stuck with his four cubs. Hasti, Masti, Phasti and Zafraan are quite a pawful, finds Shaan-Bahadur. But there’s plenty to add chaos – an underground group of porcupine terrorists who hate tigers, Khoon-Pyaasa the poacher and of course the other jeering tigers who are tickled pink that the mighty Shaan-Bahadur is now a doting father. As usual, Lal takes young readers on a wildlife safari that offers fascinating insight into the animal kingdom. At the same time, his characteristic dry wit shines through, leaving the reader chuckling, her heart racing and the pages turning non-stop.

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