BLPS: The Best Indian Children’s Books 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.

The team from the Book Lovers’ Programme in Schools, Chennai, decided to write as one. But their choices varied. Here is the list from Amrutash Mishra, Sanjana Chakraborty, Karthika Gopalakrishnan and Smruthi Bala Kannan. They are all book lovers.


Standing (L to R): Karishma, Sanjana, Karthika, Amrutash, Naresh; sitting: Smruthi, Sudarsan.

We are thrilled that there are a few Duckbill books in the BLPS list, and we promise no arms were twisted–platypuses do not believe in list-fixing.

The Monster Hunters by Parinita Shetty (Duckbill)

Summer vacations are all about playing outside and watching television for hours. Not for Abhay ‘Abby’ and Nitya ‘Nuts’. They want to capture monsters in the hopes of having an adventurous summer vacation. But, where do monsters live? Under your beds of course! Leaving no stone unturned, they look under their beds and their friends’. They find rollerskates, books, smelly socks, a rat(!), but no monster. They check under Abby’s sister, Zara’s bed but end up chasing Doodle the dog who’s got poor Nuts’ shoe. What an adventure! Who needs monsters anyway.

(Sanjana Chakraborty)

Stories I like to Tell by Jeeva Raghunath (Tulika)

Stories I like to Tell brings back all those storytelling sessions with Jeeva when I was growing up in Chennai. All 13 stories in the book are Jeeva’s personal favourites — inspired by sound, folktales, repetition and rhythm. It’s impossible not to go “taaku takku takku” with paati from ‘Paati’s Beat’ or spend hours trying to perfect Tikki Tikki Tembo’s tongue-twister of a name.

(Sanjana Chakraborty)

The Case of the Candy Bandit by Archit Taneja (Duckbill)

The next time you think about counting sheep to help you sleep, think about the sheep.

Eleven-year-old Rachita, who is super smart for her age and a founding member of the Superlative Supersleuths, gives them a lot of thought. In her head, the sheep are rational, intelligent, witty, analytical beings, who choose not to jump over the fence sometimes because they’re above that sort of thing.

Rachita’s sheep send her subliminal messages too. They prod her to think of new ways to zero in on the thief who’s stealing all the goodies from her classmates’ lunch bags.

(Karthika Gopalakrishnan)

Ashoka and the Muddled Messages by Natasha Sharma (Duckbill)

Drafts of (yes, the ancient king) Ashoka’s edicts are with the royal scribe. They never get chiseled out by him for someone already hacks it. And someone is putting out exactly the opposite of what the king wishes to say. And the kind people in the kingdom are screaming out aloud against it. Who is indeed muddling with these messages?

The book flips the regular historical straight-faced story of Ashoka over to a humorous omelette. Written in a non-ancient language, it would have been a riot of a companion reader to my history book.

(Smruthi Bala Kannan)

Timmi in Tangles by Shals Mahajan (Duckbill)

Although written in 2013, this book kept me most busy in 2014. That’s because everybody wants to hear about Timmi, so I kept telling them about Timmi. All through 2014. I wish children would get over Timmi, but they just can’t seem to. Anyhow.

Timmi is a little girl. Just as the title suggests, she’s often in a tangle. There’s that one time when she decides she’ll be the Raja of Ramirpur. Inspite of her limited wardrobe, she dresses up like a king. The first decision she takes as a king is to never go to school. Expectedly, that doesn’t go too well with her mother.

There’s also that time when her friend Idli Amma comes and eats all the idlis on her plate. And again. And again. Till Timmi is so full that she gets a tummy-ache.

(Amrutash Misra)

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