Book Review: Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar

I chose to read this book because I am interested in history, especially of Asian countries and this book promised a different perspective of a very significant time in India’s history; a time when Gandhi started his campaign towards India’s independence from British rule.

I had read a bit and heard much about what Gandhi had done and how he advocated for civil disobedience as a non-violent way to make his point. But it was always from an adult perspective and usually from a rather politically-one-sided recount of various different events.

Kelkar made a ten-year-old girl, Anjali, the centre of the story and we see how the independence movement affected her and her family; how it confused her and turned her world upside down, how she coped with all the conflicting emotions within herself and the incomprehensible reaction of her best friend, who was a Muslim.

As we walk through the story with Anjali, we learn how these historical events affected the lives of the ordinary people and how the caste system was very much a part of life in India. We also see what might be the motivation of different people who joined the independence movement, also how political will, even if it seems to be for the greater good, might not translate into immediate benefit for every citizen.

All these are written in an easy to understand language yet Kelkar kept a good pace which maintained my interest in not just Anjali’s story but also in the lives of the people around her and in the outcome for Anjali and her family and also for India as a whole.

I think this book is a great way to introduce middle-graders to what might have otherwise been a very serious and complicated historical event.

Have you read other historically based books which you would recommend?

syc

Another Mini Trip Across the Border

So Covid is still ruling the day, so to speak, and that means no flying anywhere for the autumn holidays. We had plans to meet some friends to enjoy some good Chinese food in a restaurant just a hop across the border, which gave us the idea to go a day earlier, drive a tiny bit further and explore a town we have not been to before. We went to Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

It’s a lovely university town and it made me miss my university days very much. We love the atmosphere and feel of the old town. The wonderfully modern glass covered university library stands out among the old buildings and yet it felt like it belonged. We walked past students gathering in groups, chatting and enjoying the open spaces, as well as an evening music/dance event. Of course, we saw students doing things only students would do, such as walking up the metal supports of an overhead bridge and sitting at the top to have a chat. The architecture of the old town is lovely and wandering around it was just enchanting.

Of course, we were in Germany so for dinner we went to a local brew house to enjoy a typical German meal. The food was yums and the beer was, according to the husband, good. The son tried a beer mixed with a sweet syrup which was interesting. The brew house is called Martin’s Bräu and it had a very buzzy ambience, and a long queue, however, it was worth the wait.

There is one downside to staying at a hotel with a pool and a spa during a pandemic; that is these facilities are closed 😦 But the hotel was nice and comfortable, and breakfast was good. Because of the current health and safety requirements, all the cold meats, fruits etc were individually plated and wrapped in plastic wrap, and we had to follow the arrows when walking through the buffet. i like the little glass containers the fruits came in.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy:

syc

Book Review: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Jess Keating

This is one of the books i read during lockdown and it is also one which is part of my research into how much literary liberties one can take with historical figures. See this post for the first book i read for this research.

This is the first book in the Elements of Genius series, published by Scholastic. And i think it’s absolutely fab!

Nikki Tesla is based on the historical figure, NikolaTesla, who invented alternating current (AC) and has much to do with the production, transmission and application of electric power. Keating has taken this well-known person and his amazing genius, and created an exciting, fun-filled, yet so relatable story from the perspective of a young Nikki (female) who desperately wants to fit in but knows and has accepted that she will never be one of the “normal” people.

When her death ray lands her in “serious” trouble, Nikki is given a choice; join a special school for history’s greatest brains, Genius Academy, or else… Nikki feels she has no choice but she is determined that she is there on her own terms and will not be making any friends.

At Genius Academy, she slowly learns that she is not the only genius who does not fit in and that she can be part of a team, and people do like her and even care for her. Genius Academy is full of … well, geniuses… in different areas such as music, story-telling, mathematics, nature, etc… and together, they take on a villain who has grand plans for Nikki’s death ray and they must stop him.

i really like the way Keating writes; witty yet so on point, heartfelt with a great pace to the story. i think this is a wonderful story, which will turn into an amazing series, and will definitely get middle graders reading, even if they say they don’t like reading. i am so looking forward to the next book in the series.

Have you recently discovered a new author or a new series of books which you are excited about? Care to share?

syc