Paperback Pickings

Fresh, crunchy and puffy

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 30.04.10

Fresh, crunchy and puffy

BIG NATE: THE BOY WITH THE BIGGEST HEAD IN THE WORLD (HarperCollins, Rs 199) by Lincoln Peirce is a comic book based on the adventures of Nate Wright, the sixth-grader hero of a popular comic strip. Nate’s life is typical of any naughty boy of his age. He has the gift for caricature and loves to doodle endlessly, especially while the formidable Mrs Godfrey (nicknamed Godzilla) asks him a particularly difficult question in class. Life at home is not a bed of roses either. Nate’s father can be embarrassingly eccentric, as when he gave away rice cakes to the neighbourhood kids for Halloween. Ellen, Nate’s elder sister, prattles on all day, and his two closest friends, Francis (nerdy) and Teddy (wacky), are an odd lot. But Nate is indomitably optimistic as well as creative, sample his haiku on his beloved snack, cheese doodles: “You have Cheez Doodles./ Fresh. Crunchy. Puffalicious./ Give me one right now.” A great read.

Killing the water (Penguin, Rs 250) by Mahmud Rahman is a collection of stories set in Bangladesh and beyond. In limpid prose and at a languorous pace, these tales bring to life history, memory, the past and the present. From the devastations and dilemmas of the 1971 war to the plight of Bangladeshi immigrants in Rhode Island, the themes are richly varied. Particularly moving is the ordeal faced by 17-year-old Moni, displaced from his homeland to a remote island on the Bay of Bengal. Rahman’s is a twilight world, through which his characters must drift, not knowing whether they are moving towards light or into further darkness.

Ash & tara and the emerald dagger (Puffin, Rs 150) by Jeanne Perrett goes back to the days of Akbar, when, as the 15-year-old ruler of the vast Mughal Empire, the teenage emperor was struggling to keep his feet on the ground. The plot sizzles with intrigues, led by the villainous Magesh, to steal an emerald dagger belonging to Akbar. A good-luck charm, this object is of great value to the young king as well as to his enemies. As the feisty Ash and Tara get wind of the plan, they set out in right earnest to defeat the conspirators. But the way is riddled with dangers and there is every possibility that the well-wishers may get framed for a crime they want to prevent. A heady cocktail of history and mystery, packed with exciting action and dialogues.