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Editors


The Book Review’s special issue on Children’s Books was getting ready to go to press in October this year when came the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize for Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai (shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education), and Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. Satyarthi, who gave up a career as an electrical engineer in 1980 to campaign against child labour, has headed various forms of peaceful protests and demonstrations, focusing on the exploitation of children for financial gain. Satyarthi has stated that data from non-government organizations indicated that child labourers could number 60 million in India or 6 percent of the total population. ‘Children are employed not just because of parental poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, failure of development and education programmes, but quite essentially due to the fact that employers benefit immensely from child labour as children come across as the cheapest option, sometimes working even for free,’ he believes. This news gave a special fillip in putting together an issue where books published for children, about children, have been reviewed. Many of the books in review here—as in Freedom Run, a story about the ‘forgotten children of India’: ‘In the Mirzapur and Bhadoli districts of Uttar Pradesh, in many tiny villages, small children work long hours at the looms to create carpets famous around the world for their intricate design’—meant for children are thought provoking for adults as well. With this issue on children’s books, one feels that the genre has come of age in India. The books reviewed here, in two sections—one for the very young and the second for the older age group and the young adult—have managed to focus on any number of issues which the child in India—and around the world—faces in the twenty-first century. The proverbial innocence of childhood itself is at a premium and a world full of violence, prejudice and war impinges mercilessly on the golden years of growing up. However, kudos to the publishers for children in India that they are being able to project these in a  vocabulary that does not jar, and in an entirely natural manner. In these the authors are evidently being ably supported by the illustrators. The beauty of text, design and art together make the books reviewed in this issue a joy, and would hopefully, motivate parents to ...


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