Samina Mishra: The Best Indian Children’s Book of the Year

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.

Samina Mishra is a writer and film-maker.


We are thrilled that Samina has selected a Duckbill book, and we promise no arms were twisted–platypuses do not believe in list-fixing.

Vanamala and the Cephalopod (Duckbill) by Shalini Srinivasan

What do you do when you have an irritating younger sister and wish you could give her away, and then find that your wish comes true? In Vanamala’s case, the guilt can take you all the way down to the bottom of the ocean and give us a story that swims along with children-turned-into-sea-creatures. The entire book is set under the ocean but you really never long to come up for air.
I loved Vanamala and the Cephalopod for its inventiveness and its voice. I loved that the main character is called Vanamala and her sister, Pingu. I loved that there’s an entire new world created with real and mythical creatures and yet the questions they grapple with are age-old.
It’s also really well-produced and the illustrations have their own small narrative going on.


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