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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.

Natasha Sharma is the author of ten books for children.

Natasha Sharma

The first name that popped into my head was Captain Coconut and the Case of the Missing Bananas (Tara) by Anushka Ravishankar.

Maybe I’m biased.

There is the fact that I’m a sardarni. Automatically leads to giggles at the sight of the turban on Captain Coconut’s head with the coconut tree sticking out.

It could be the play on the word ‘coconut’ and memories of my father’s many surdie jokes, in one of which refers to himself as a coconut. (Sardars crack the best surdie jokes.)

I probably begin with a bias since Anushka is one of my favourite children’s authors and that I love the humour in all her books.

I might also be biased by the fact that my ten year old was laughing, guffawing, leaping, wildly gesticulating and shouting, hoping that the characters will get the obvious answer to the missing bananas. I went on to do a more refined version of this as I took my husband through the book, later that day.

That’s exactly what makes this book so fabulous. You start out thinking this is a mystery story. And yes, it is one indeed. Then you open the book and the illustrations just suck you in, becoming such an integral part of the narrative. As you are a few pages in, the astute detective begins to bring on the giggles with his literal and ridiculous calculations, observations and solutions. a little further in, the mystery is apparent to all except the characters and kids of all ages can delight about being in the know, long before Captain Coconut finally bumbles his way to the end. Story telling at it’s best.

It’s brilliant. It’s marvellous. It needs to be on your list of must reads, irrespective of your age.

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