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Tag Archives: Young Zubaan

5 #Reasonstoread Dear Mrs. Naidu: Reprint Edition

We’re delighted to announce the reprint of Dear Mrs. Naidu (2014) from our Young Zubaan collection! Written by the brilliant Mathangi Subramanian, this children’s novel has received acclaim as an innovative tale about complex issues. Here are our top five favourite things about the book, that’ll make any reader fall in love with it.

Dear Mrs Naidu coverDear Mrs. Naidu is an Indian epistolary children’s novel in English, which makes it a rare work of fiction. Epistolary novels can be narrated through newspaper clippings, notes or diary entries. In this case, the story is narrated entirely in letters, from the 12-year-old Sarojini to the Indian freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu. Drawing parallels between the struggles of the two Sarojinis, the book tells us much more about Sarojini Naidu than our history books ever did!

Set in the slums of Bangalore, the novel delves into the lives and relationships of people from marginalized communities. With well-rounded multidimensional characters, the book shows that inequality is not just about being rich and poor, or going to a better school. It talks about the Right to Education Act, simplifying it enough to be understood by children, and yet showing the obstacles in making quality education accessible to all children.

“Deepti is a fighter… Like Amma, like Vimala Madam, like you Mrs Naidu.”

With a single mother resiliently protecting her daughter and community, two young girls fighting for their right to quality education, and a successful human rights lawyer using her privilege to help the community, this book has no dearth of strong female characters. Likening them to Sarojini Naidu shows that women (and girls) can be strong and powerful.

These are just some of the things that make Dear Mrs Naidu an exceptional read, for kids and adults alike. But don’t just take our word for it! You can hear all about it from Sarojini, in her latest letter to Mrs. Naidu.

Dear Mrs. Naidu,

I just found out that during your lifetime, you wrote a lot of letters. You wrote to family, friends, freedom fighters – even famous people. After you died passed on stopped writing, all of your letters were published in a book. Now, if people want to get to know you, they can read about you in your own words.

Guess what? My letters were published too! This is something else we have in common, besides or first names.

The only letters I’ve ever written have been to you, and the only story I have so far is how I fought to change my school so I could keep Amir as my best friend. It’s a story you already know because even though you never once wrote back to me, you helped me figure out what to do along the way.

Here is why other people like my story: it’s about friendship, but it’s also about growing up. It’s about becoming a fighter, even if you are only a twelve-year-old girl who lives in a house without a proper roof and goes to a school without a proper compound. It’s about making friends with people you never thought you’d be friends with – like dead passed on former freedom fighters, or girls who live at construction sites, or Aunties who make so much noise that sometimes it’s hard to hear when they actually make sense. (Which is more of the time than you would think, Mrs. Naidu.)

Lots of kids are reading my our letters. Lots of grownups are too. Some of them want to learn about the Right to Education Act, or about what it’s like to grow up in a slum, or about what it’s like to be a twelve-year-old girl. But most of them are reading our letters because they like a really good story.

Our story is a really good story, Mrs. Naidu. You know why?

Because it’s a story about changing the world.

All the Best,



tbt last


Welcome to #ThrowbackThursday, a new series where we will revisit backlist titles one Thursday every month. This October we’re looking at Young Zubaan title Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, edited Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar and Anita Roy.

About the book

EatTheSky_roughsBe transported into dystopian cities and alternate universes. Hang out with unicorns, cyborgs and pixies. Learn how to waltz in outer space. Be amazed and beguiled by a fairy tale with an unexpected twist, a futuristic take on a TV cooking show, and a playscript with tentacles.

 In other words, get ready for a wild ride!

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean This is a collection of sci-fi and fantasy writing, including six graphic stories that showcase twenty writers and artists from India and Australia, in an all-female, all-star line-up!

Contributors include: Samhita Arni, Kuzhali Manickavel, Manjula Padmanabhan, Vandana Singh, Payal Dhar, Anita Roy, Annie Zaidi, Penni Russon, Kate Constable, Isobelle Carmody, Justine Larbalestier, Alyssa Brugman, Kirsty Murray, Margo Lanagan, Priya Kuriyan, Prabha Mallya, Amruta Pail, Lily Mae Martin, Nicki Greenberg and Mandy Ord.

About the editors

Kirsty Murray is an Australian author. She writes children's fiction with a focus on Australian history, and is well known for her novel series, Children of the Wind. 

Payal Dhar is an author and freelance editor. She has written books for children, young adults, and adults, as well as numerous short stories. She also writes about various topics like technology, books and games.

Anita Roy is a writer, editor and publisher. Her stories and non-fiction essays have appeared in a number of anthologies. She is also the editor of 21 Under 40 and co-editor of Women Changing India, <101 Indian Children's Books We Love and Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean.

Quotes from readers

The tapestry of Eat The Sky is essentially feminist, but it weaves in issues of food security, environmental destruction, class barriers, social justice, consumerism and human rights to create lustrous narratives. In our patriarchy-dominated country, the anthology stands out for its plucky writing and bold imagery. - Bijal Vaccharajan, Livemint

If the title gives you a sense of freedom and discovery, you can imagine how powerful the stories are. The collection of six graphic stories, one play script and ten short stories pulls the reader into a world of limitless possibilities, pushing the boundaries of creativity. - Sravasti Datta, The Hindu

Gender & Agency: Our Picks from the Latest in Young Adult Lit

A 2011 study at Dartmouth College that looked at 5600 children’s books published in the US in the 20th century found that only 31% of these books had girls as the central characters. Thankfully the representation of women and girls in children’s books is getting better and we have seen some strong female characters in the recent past. A few years ago, the Association of American Publishers ranked Children’s/Young Adult books as the fastest growing publishing category. Avoiding the debate on the labels “teen” and “YA” and keeping to a broad 12+ age category, here are some of my picks of Indian YA books published in 2016 and 2017 with central female characters or well rounded female characters.

z1edit - Asmara’s Summer by Andaleeb Wajid (Penguin India, 2016): Bangalore based author, Andaleeb Wajid sets her novel within a real space in the city. She thought of the story when in an auto passing by Tannery Road. Her seventeen-year-old protagonist Asmara, has a secret that she wants no one in her college to know: that her grandparents live by Tannery Road, an area known for its lower middle-class Muslim population. She is forced to spend her summer vacation with them and this forms the timeline for the novel in which the author deftly handles differences in socio-economic class through the eyes of her young protagonist.


z2edit- Tanya Tania by Antara Ganguli (Bloomsbury India, 2016): Though written on a Goa beach during the monsoon, the author takes us back to Mumbai and Karachi of the 1990s against the backdrop of political violence. The novel is a story of two young women, children of college best friends who are encouraged to get to know each other. The girls - Tanya Talati in Karachi and Tania Ghosh in Mumbai eventually divulge details about their personal lives and share their ambitions with each other. The novel also brings out the political realities of the two countries through the two relatively privileged protagonists. Written completely in the form of letters spanning a period of 6 years, Ganguli weaves together a heart-wrenching narrative.  

z3edit - Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone (Wendy Lamb Books, 2017): The only non-fiction book on this list, Girl Rising centred on the eponymous Girl Rising, a global campaign for girl education that created a film chronicling the lives of nine girls in the developing world. Author Lee Stone, uses additional research focusing on these nine girls and others examining barriers to education including factors like early child marriage, sex trafficking, poverty and gender discrimination. Though it is questionable if education by itself without a large set of accompanying conditions can really create a transformative change in the lives of these girls, the book through its infographics, photos alongside a compelling narrative sets the ground to begin important conversations.

z4editThe Sorcerer of Mandala by D Kalyanaraman (Yali Books, 2016): Unlike the other titles in this list, this is a comical, light read with the publishers describing the book as a quirky fantasy novel suitable for ages 14 and up. The story is set in Orum, a town suddenly isolated from the rest of civilization. To save Orum, Vikram, his reluctant fiancée Ponni and his friends a thief and an aspiring playwright must steal a jewel that hangs around the neck of a demonic goddess guarded by her devotee, a terrifying Sorcerer. With each chapter opening with an illustration by Raghava KK, the novel becomes a particularly engaging read.

z5edit - Unbroken by Nandhika Nambi (Duckbill, 2017): The YA fiction space has witnessed a growing number of teen authors and Unbroken goes into that list with Nambi writing it in the six month gap between finishing school and joining medical college. A couple of years later, Nambi who had already self-published two novels, sent out Unbroken to publishers with Duckbill eventually taking on the novel. The story engages with some important issues around disability with the protagonist Akriti, confined to a wheelchair following an accident. The story follows her interactions with her brother, parents, and friends and her constantly feeling as though confined to a prison surrounded by them all with nowhere to escape.

So far 2017 has also seen a large number of international books in the YA category depicting the South Asian experience. With us living increasingly global lives, you might find these titles in literature of the Indian diaspora relatable and I have picked one of them for this list.

z7edit- Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016): Rani Patel in Full Effect is the first young adult novel by Sonia Patel, a US-based psychiatrist who works with children and adults. Rani is a daughter of Gujarati immigrants living on a Hawaiian island often feeling isolated and unhappy. Her only comfort is when performing hip hop. Through Hawaiian, Hawaiian pidgin, Gujarati as well as hip-hop slang, Rani tells you her tale filled with themes of insecurities, love, and incest. This is set against a narrative that includes her parents failing marriage and an older man who is interested in Rani and eventually leads her to an underground hip hop crew.

I grew up on a generous share of Roald Dahls and Judy Blumes and after rapidly making my way through the children’s titles in my school library and local bookstore, I graduated to general fiction without really engaging with the fiction category written solely for teenagers. I am now making up for lost time and consistently add YA fiction to my reading list. Here are two upcoming YA novels that I am particularly looking forward to.



 - You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (FSG Books for Young Readers, release date 12th Sept 2017): Perkins has written numerous novels in the YA category with South Asian characters like Bamboo People and Secret Keeper. Her upcoming YA novel tells the story of one Indian-American family through teen voices spanning across three generations. The themes tackled through the lives of these five women include cultural identity, a biracial love affair, and environmental activism could appeal to a large audience.

z10edit- Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (First Second, release date 3rd Oct 2017): Chanani is an Indian American artist and illustrator and her upcoming graphic novel will explore what it means to engage with the two identities and culture through her young protagonist Pri. Through the discovery of a magic pashmina owned by her mother, Pri finds out about her mother’s past, her life in India, who her father is and why her mother left him behind. Considering that only few graphic novels engage with these particular themes, this could add some diversity to your reading list.

Many adults confess to reading in the YA genre, so don’t let being older than early twenties stop you from picking up one of these titles the next time you are at a bookstore!

An Icky, Yucky, Mucky April!
Girl's Guide to a Life in Science


The Girl's Guide to a Life in Science
Ram Ramaswamy, Rohini Godbole, Mandakini Dubey (Eds)
Zubaan Books
204 pp Pb
INR 245
ISBN 9789381017111
All Rights Available

Inspiring, informative, insightful… meet some of India’s most celebrated female scientists. 

What led them to choose their particular field? Who encouraged them? What were their struggles? What are their sources of inspiration? What are the key questions at the cutting edge of modern research? Why choose a life in science at all?

From astrophysics to zoology, learn what it takes to make a career in science.

Order your copy here


Icky, Yucky, Mucky! at Hill Spring International School, Mumbai
Icky Yucky Mucky Table

Icky, Yucky, Mucky! goes to Hill Spring International School.

Icky, Yucky, Mucky! visited the wonderful library at Hill Spring International School for  a dramatised reading by Natasha Sharma, author of the deliciously gooey story Icky, Yucky, Mucky! Kindergarten and grades I and II were in hysterics to see the well moustachioed Maharaja Icky slurping over the pickles, burping and juggling rosogullas.

Natasha Sharma as Maharaja Icky

Natasha Sharma as Maharaja Icky had the kids enthralled.

Their sporting librarian Ms. Soonawala, as Maharani Yucky, accompanied the Maharaja in his mess. This was one noisy library for two delightful mornings as it resounded with children laughing and shouting YUCKY! EEEEW! OOOH! NOOOO!

Inspired by the wonderful splotches in the book created by Anitha Balachandran, the children then set about making Splotch Monsters. It was great to see much creativity emerging with Splotches with a dozen eyes, great big moustaches and even one demure little girl splotch. The library now has its very own Icky, Yucky, Mucky! wall.


You can be a part of the Icky, Yucky, Mucky ride by visiting the ickiest blog with some deliciously icky recipes and wonderfully messy ideas. Also, join us on Facebook Icky, Yucky, Mucky! Page.

Young Zubaan at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2012
"For all children, the first books they read are the key to the magic of the world."  - Dr Zakir Husain.
We're happy that some of these kids got to take home stories by Dr Husain from our Magic Key series, retold by his great-granddaughter, Samina Misha, and beautifully illustrated by Pooja Pottenkulam. Their happy faces say it all!
Young Zubaan at the DSC South Asian Literary Festival in London from the 7th to the 24th of October.

We're really excited about the DSC Festival in London. This year, two of our Young Zubaan titles will be featured at the festival. Anitha Balachandran's exquisitely illustrated, "Mr Jeejeebhoy and the Birds" and Tabish Khair's magical story, "The Glum Peacock".

Please do check it out if you happen to be in London. Copies of both books will be available on sale.

If you can't, do check out the books either way, they're lovely.

More details here:


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