All posts by S. L. Faisal

A Library Professional with a twist towards anything 2.0 and beyond. Automated and redesigned the Library of Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom in 2007 (which became the first fully automated Kendriya Vidyalaya library in India with an 'E-reading Hub'). Developed the first Indian school Library blog in 2007 and tries to experiment with and incorporate almost all web 2.0 tools as part of the library services. Created an Academic online Social Network 'Library Junction' and an online professional forum 'KV Librarians’ Network' with more than 550 working school librarians as members. Served as the General Secretary of Kerala Library Association (KLA) during 2011-’13. Developed and implemented innovative projects like Face a Book, Library-Social Connect, Library Junction, Home works and Assignments Online, My Dear Book, and LibZine. Coordinated and served as Resource Person to a number of Professional development programmes (Seminars, Workshops, In-service Training courses, Talks, etc) under KVS, CBSE, NCERT, Kerala Library Association and other organizations. Acts as Resource Person on Web 2.0., Blogging (WordPress), Library 2.0, School Library Management and Standards, Social Media, Automation, Digitization, e-content development, etc. Serves as a Member & Author of CBSE Curriculum Committee for the subject, Library & Information Science. Drafted the New KVS Library Policy, as a member of Library Policy Committee constituted by KVS, New Delhi. Received the IASL International Excellence Award (2012), KVS Regional Incentive Award (2014), NCERT Innovations and Experiments in Schools Award (2011) and KVS Innovations and Experimentation Award (2010). Published articles and presented papers in journals and conferences. I am open to all new ideas and concepts emerging from any corner of the social or academic world, if it provides a chance to improve my profession and myself as a social being.

‘Wings of Fire’ by Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Image result for book wings of fire‘Wings of Fire’ is an autobiography of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam covering his early life and his work in Indian space research and missile programs. It is the story of a boy from a humble background who went on to become a key player in Indian space research/Indian missile programs and later became the president of India. The book has been very popular in India and has been translated into multiple languages. I recently picked up a copy and read it in a couple of days. It was very engaging initially, but tended to drag a bit towards the end with lot of technical details and procedural information of his space research and missile projects.

I loved the initial chapters of Wings of Fire since it gives a vivid picture of our country during 1930 – 1950s. Kalam was born in Rameswaram, a southern religious town in Tamilnadu. The initial chapters provides an interesting glimpse of religious harmony which existed before India’s partition.Through Wings of Fire, we come across some brilliant people who worked behind Indian space research  such as Vikram Sarabhai and Dr. Brahm Prakash.

MY RATING:4.5/5   I hope you will enjoy the book.

Reviewed by Vyshnavi Vinod

 

 

‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl

Image result for book charlie and the chocolate factoryRoald Dahl was mostly inspired to write this book because of his own experiences as a child.The reputed chocolate firm, Cadbury would occasionally hand out new types of chocolates to the students and ask the blissful children to rate them. Dahl, who was one of those lucky students, would often fantasize about working in the lab where these chocolates were created. Many years down the line, this childhood fantasy would culminate into the hugely popular, best-seller ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’.

The story begins when Willy Wonka, the great, eccentric chocolate inventor and owner of Wonka’s chocolates decides to open the gates of his amazing chocolate factory to five lucky children. And to get this prize of a lifetime, all you have to do is find one of the five golden tickets in Wonka’s chocolate bars! This news, gives everyone a jolt of surprise and the craze begins. People start hunting for the ticket and four of them are found by spoilt,mean little children.

Charie Bucket, lives with his family in a little house and hardly gets enough to eat even though his father works very hard.  He is a poor, needy but sweet and innocent child and gets a chocolate only once in a year on his birthday. One fine day, he finds a lost coin on the ground, so obviously he bought chocolate, which he loves but rarely gets….

Yes! You guessed it right, he gets the golden ticket and it was completely by accident! When Charlie got the ticket, I did a happy little jig in my head! I had complete faith in Charlie and most importantly, Roald Dahl…

So on the special day, all the lucky children and their proud parents arrive near the gates of the factory and go on a tour in the wondrous factory. They go on a ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ (Dahl’s credit) tour through the wonderful factory and see all kinds of sweets like hot- icecream,wriggle sweets, candies,three-course dinner chewing gum, giant lollipops and a huge chocolate river.

Dahl has also showcased his limericks and poems here and there, along with his crazy self invented words.[ gobstoppers, anyone??]

What happen to the spoilt kids? What does Willy Wonka reveal? And what happens to Charlie? To know the answers, read the book. I dont want to reveal everything and spoil your reading experience. 🙂

I am sure kids would love this book. My seven year old brother became a regular reader of Roald Dahl after reading ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’ and he now keeps a lookout for all of Roald’s books in the public library.

The dialogue is edgy and witty.  There is of course, Dahl’s lovely humour in the books and the ending was also good. I was able to complete the book quickly.

According to me, this is a light- hearted, fun and short book and it can’t be considered as deep and thrilling as some other novels and books. Because, the book is meant for children and it is the natural talent of the writer  which which made him keep the book simple, cute and also interesting enough to be read by readers of all ages. I rate it 4/5. When you read the book, you will find yourself automatically flipping through the pages into the magical world of Charlie.

Reviewed by Kalyani Santhosh

 

‘Catching Fire’ by Suzanne Collins

Image result for book catching fire

‘Catching Fire’ is the second book in the ‘Hunger Games Trilogy’. It was first published on September 1, 2009 by Scholastic. The book picks up after 6 months have passed since the conclusion of the Hunger Games, an annual event in which each District of Panem [the post-apocalyptic North America] sends one male and one female tribute to fight to death in a televised competition to remind the Districts that the capitol can take their children and that no one is safe. President Snow unexpectedly visits Katniss on the day their Victory Tour was supposed to take place and tells her he is angry with her for breaking the rules at the end of the last Hunger Games, which permitted both Katniss and Peeta to live when only one person is allowed to live. Snow tells Katniss that when she defied the Capitol, she inspired rebellion in the Districts. Katniss and Peeta travel the twelve Districts and the Capitol.

Soon after the Victory Tour is over it is announced that for the 75th Hunger Games, twenty four victors from previous years will be forced to compete again. This is the third occurrence of the Quarter Quell, an event that occurs every 25th year of the games and allows the Capitol to introduce twist. Katniss [as she is the only living female victor] gets chosen along with Haymitch but Peeta volunteers to save him and also to protect Katniss in the arena. During the Games, set in a jungle with a saltwater lake, Katniss and Peeta form an alliance with two previous victors: Finnick, a 24 year old man who won the 65th hunger games at the age of 14, and Mags, Finnick’s 80 year old mentor, both from District 4.

The party encounters a poisonous fog in which Peeta comes into contact with the fog and cannot walk. Mags sacrifices herself to save Peeta. After Mags’s death, Katniss, Peeta and Finnick join forces with Johanna Mason, sarcastic and often cruel victor from District 7, and Beetee and Wiress, an older couple from District 3 who are said to be exceptionally smart. Wiress soon proves her genius by revealing to Katniss that the arena is arranged like a clock, with all the arena’s deadly disasters occurring on a timed chart. After Wiress is killed in a battle with the Careers [tributes from richer Districts like 1, 2 and 4, who train all their lives for the Games and are usually the winners], Katniss learns of Beetee’s plan to harness lightning in order to electrocute Brutus and Enobaria, the two remaining Career Tributes from District 2.

In the final chapters, Katniss instead directs the lightning at the force field that contains the arena, thereby destroying the arena and resulting in her temporary paralysis. When Katniss wakes up, she is being transported to District 13, joined by Finnick, Beetee and her mentor Haymitch. She learns that Peeta, Johanna and Enobaria have been captured by the Capitol and is informed that there had been a plan among half of the tributes to break out of the arena-Beetee had been attempting to destroy the force field the same way that she did. The book ends when Katniss’s best friend Gale comes to visit her and informs her that, though he got her family out in time, District 12 was destroyed.

I rate this book 10/10. Once we open the book we can’t put it down. This book is not for the faint hearted. I enjoyed all the twists and turns of the story and recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading.

Reviewed by Meera Nair     

‘The Devil and Miss Prym’ by Paulo Coelho

Image result for book devil and miss prymA stranger arrives at a sleepy village high in the mountains and shows the disillusioned barmaid, Miss Prym, a bar of gold he has hidden in the woods and tells her of another nine nearby. She must inform the townsfolk of his offer – if one person in the village is murdered by the end of the week, the village will receive the ten bars of gold.

This book is based around choices, two of them. The first is Miss Prym’s – she can choose to steal the one gold bar she knows the location of and run off to the city to pursue her dreams. This would not only help her live the life she always dreamed of, but also protect her neighbours from having to make an agonizing decision. On the other hand, the more moral choice would be to not steal the gold, and not to tell the villagers of the stranger’s offer so that all concerned could preserve their moral integrity. However, should Miss Prym start down this path, the stranger has promised that he will inform the citizens himself and they will likely resent the barmaid for hiding this information and choose her as the sacrificial victim.

The second choice is obviously that of the villagers – whether they should accept the gold offered to them to save their dying village and murder an innocent inhabitant, or let their home wink out of existence, but stay on the side of righteousness.

Paulo Coelho is an immensely talented author who somehow manages to get right inside characters. He did it magnificently with the stranger who is trying to convince himself there is still good left in the world and with Miss Prym, who is facing the most terrifying decision she has ever had to make. Somehow, nobody in the book felt to me like a bad person – some were unlikable.
To me, the essence of this book is good vs evil, and that perhaps it’s not always as clear cut a choice as it seems. There have been many books on this topic already, but not like this one. This is a very specific, very personal look at what people can do when pushed. Religion occasionally comes into it, as does the Devil, but it’s more in a spiritual way.

Reviewed by Arshia V.

‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown

Related imageInferno is a thriller fiction written by Dan Brown. Is was first published by Bantam Press in Great Britain in 2013.
The story is about a art history professor, Robert Langdon. He has been asked by the WHO to investigate about a person called Bertrand Zobrist. Bertrand Zobrist is a intelligent transhumanist who has invented a new type of plague virus and plans to release it. He believes that humans are still evolving and after many centuries a very advanced post-human species will evolve. But, he also believes if the overpopulation goes on the way it is now human species will become extinct before that. In his opinion, plagues were nature’s way of curbing overpopulation.
But, suddenly he wakes up in a hospital without any memory of the last 24 hours. He finds a altered painting of Sandro Botticelli’s ‘Map of Hell’ in a hidden pocket of his coat and starts investigating again. Meanwhile, an agent of the Consortium (an illegal association which does anything for money), Vayentha, and SRS team off ECDC after are following him. As he finds clues and moves forward, the author also describes the history and art of Italy and Istanbul. Later, Robert finds that Sienna is actually Bertrand’s supporter.
Unfortunately, they are not able to stop the plague. But, finally Sienna comes out and tells Robert the truth. Bertrand created a sterility plague which renders 1/3 of the population sterile forever. Finally, everyone accepts that even though Bertrand’s way was not right, his intentions were good.
This book is really gripping and I really like this book. I rate it 5/5 and recommend it to everyone.

Reviewed by Gayathri Sankar

‘Rusty comes Home’ by Ruskin Bond

Image result for book rusty comes homeRUSTY COMES HOME IS A FAMOUS BOOK WRITTEN BY RUSKIN BOND. THERE ARE MANY BOOKS IN THESE SERIES LIKE RUSTY THE BOY FROM HILLS, RUSTY RUNS HOME, RUSTY AND THE LEOPARD, RUSTY GOES TO LONDON AND RUSTY COMES HOME. RUSKIN BOND IS ALSO THE AUTHOR OF MANY OTHER BOOKS LIKE-THE HIDDEN POOL, MR. OLIVER’S DIARY, THE KASHMIRI STORY TELLER, THE CHERRY TREE, THE EYES OF THE EAGLE, GETTING GRANNIES GLASSES, CRAZY TIME WITH UNCLE KEN.

RUSTY COMES HOME IS THE FIFTH AND FINAL VOLUME IN THE SERIES OF RUSTY STORIES. HERE RUSTY WOBBLE AROUND ON HIS OLD BICYCLE. FROM DEHRA DUN, HE EXPLORED OLD AND NEW DELHI, LIVED IN SHAHGANJ AND SETTLED AROUND MUSSORIE. THERE HE GOT NEW COMPANIONS. THE FIRST CHAPTER IS –‘ALL YOU NEED IS PAPER’. IN THIS CHAPTER HE REMEMBERS ABOUT THE GOOD OLD EXPERIENCES WHILE HE WAS IN LONDON. THE NEXT CHAPTER ‘SUMMERTIME IN OLD NEW DELHI’ DESCRIBES HIS EXPERIENCES AFTER MIGRATING TO DELHI FROM DEHRA AND WORKED THERE IN AN INTERNATIONAL RELIEF AGENCY EVEN THOUGH HE WAS NOT HAPPY THERE. NEXT IS ‘BHABIJI’S HOUSE’. THERE HE LIVED WITH HIS FRIEND KAMAL. HIS FAMILY WAS A PUNJABI. THE REST OF THE STORY DEALS WITH HIS EXPERIENCES WITH KAMAL’S FAMILY. NEXT STORY IS ‘THE CROOKED TREE’. HE AGAIN SHIFTED FROM DELHI TO SHAHGANJ WITH A VERY SMALL ROOM. THERE HE GOT A FRIEND CALLED KETAN. THEY TOGETHER HAD WONDERFUL EXPERIENCES. ‘THE STORY OF MADHU’ DEALS WITH HIS EXPERIENCE WITH A YOUNG GIRL MADHU. SHE WAS ABOUT NINE. HE TAUGHT HER TO READ AND WRITE. HE EVEN HELPED HER TO GET PROPER EDUCATION. LATER MADHU BECAME HIS LITTLE FRIEND. NEXT IS ‘MOST BEAUTIFUL’. HE GOT A COMPANION NAMED SURESH WHO WAS A LITTLE BOY OF THIRTEEN. THE NEXT CHAPTER IS ‘THE NIGHT TRAIN AT DEOLI’.  HE MET A LITTLE GIRL WHO WAS SELLING BASKETS IN THE RAILWAY PLATFORM ON THE WAY TO A PLACE CALLED DEOLI. ‘HE SAID IT WITH ARSENIC’ IS THE NEXT CHAPTER. IN THIS CHAPTER HE NARRATES ABOUT A PERSON CALLED MR. WILLIAM JONES AND IN REST OF THE CHAPTER HE DESCRIBES ABOUT MR. JONES CHARACTER. THE NEXT CHAPTER IS ‘BINYA PASSES BY’. IN THIS HE MEETS A LADY CALLED BINYA AND GETS ATTRACTED TOWARDS HER. ‘THE GOOD OLD DAYS’ DESCRIBES ABOUT HIS MEETING WITH MISS PETTIBONE HIS AUNT ABOUT EIGHTY FIVE. THE NEXT CHAPTER IS ‘THE TROUBLE WITH JINNS’. ITS ALL ABOUT HIS FRIEND JIMMY.

‘LISTEN TO THE WIND’ DESCRIBES THE LIFE IN MARCH WITH LOT OF WIND AND RAIN. HE ENJOYED THE SEASON WITH PETTIBONE.          ‘THE LAST TIME I SAW DELHI’ DESCRIBES ABOUT AN INCIDENT HE REMEMBERED ABOUT HIS FAMILY WHILE THEY WERE GOING TO A TRIP. THE REST OF THE STORY IS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCES THERE. THE NEXT IS ‘THE SMALL BEGINNINGS’ FOLLOWED BY TIGER, TIGER, BURNING BRIGHT. THE NEXT IS ‘WHEN YOU CAN’T CLIMB TREES ANYMORE’, AS TIME GOES BY AND UPON AN OLD WALL DREAMING. THE STORY ENDS WITH RUSTY AS A MIDDLE AGED MAN.

I ENJOYED READING THIS BOOK AS RUSKIN BOND TAKES ME ALONG TO HIS CHILDHOOD AND PAST EVENTS. HE SHARES WITH US TALES OF ADVENTURES AND LOVE. THERE ARE MANY TWISTS IN THE STORY.  I LIKED THE BOOK VERY MUCH. HOPE YOU TOO WILL.

Reviewed by Sarika P. Nair

‘The Zahir’ by Paulo Coelho

“My heart might be bruised , but it will recover and become capable of seeing beauty of life once more. It’s happened before, it will happen again, I’m sure when someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive, I‘ll find love again.’’

The Zahir is a 2005 novel by the world famous and the much loved author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho. This book was originally written in Portuguese by the author, but was translated by Margaret Jull Costa. The book was published in India by Harper Collins Publishers. The story mainly revolves around the themes of love and obsession, that leads the protagonist in redeeming the meaning of love, life and conversation. The book is actually a dedication to Coelho’s wife, Christina.

The word ‘Zahir’ comes from the Islamic tradition, which means visible, present, incapable of going unnoticed in Arabic. The protagonist of this novel is a world famous, successful novelist and at the same time celebrity whose name the author has not revealed. He lives in Paris with his wife, Esther, the winner of two international prizes for journalism. The protagonist’s celebrity status had affected his relationship with his wife. So, she leaves the man for the sake of her own happiness, without any message. He gradually realizes that Esther’s disappearance is a sort of message, a challenge to him, to rethink of his emotions and make them worthy of hers. She becomes the Zahir of the title, a blinding obsession. The protagonist mentions a short story by Jorge Luis Borges and says that his zahir is not a romantic metaphor, a man, a tiger, a compass, or a coin. It has a name and her name is Esther. On Esther’s journey to find true love, she meets with a Mongolian man named Mikhail, whose her friend too. They both were last met in a Café. Mikhail, the third important character of the story, is from Kazakhstan and follows Tengri tradition. Somehow Mikhail and the narrator comes together and Mikhail promises to take him to Esther.

Coelho has included multiple themes of spirituality, the author had mainly talked about the mental slavery in following the world’s rules. Reading the Zahir had fascinated me as it includes the reference of old forgotten traditions, spiritual love stories and a certain mention of the author’s pilgrimage road to Santiago. The value one reader can depict from this book is to have the courage needed to square off against all the mysteries of life and letting of ego. This book has strong autobiographical features and the characters were just real. The Zahir is anything you make it to be and there is one place you will find it, in yourself.

This book awakens the self and rekindles the lost love. I rate this book 4.5 on 5 and recommend it to all those love reading and specially to all the Coelho fans.

Reviewed by Ashifa S. S.