Today we are pleased to welcome to our blog author Jasbinder Bilan, who has her first piece of non-fiction work out this month. India, Incredible India, written by Jasbinder and brought to life by artist Nina Chakrabarti, is a joyful celebration of India and its people, places and wildlife. It’s beautifully illustrated, and there isn’t anything quite like this for young children.
The book invites readers to watch elephants bathing from a houseboat in Kerala, marvel at ancient cave paintings in Bhimbetka, wander through Delhi’s bustling streets, and ride a train through the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. Uncover India’s fascinating history and culture, and explore the unique mix of the traditional and modern that makes India the incredible country it is today. India, Incredible India is available to purchase online from Amazon or from Bookshop.org.
Through the book, notable females (or ‘sheroes’) from India are celebrated. This week, Jasbinder stopped by our blog to share more about the book and to tell us about some of the sheroes she chose to include in the book.
India, Incredible India by Jasbinder Bilan
India Incredible India is my non-fiction debut. It’s the sort of book I would love to have found at school or in my library growing up. But when I was a little girl, there wasn’t anything like it, which is why it feels like such an honour to be asked to write the book. It’s a sort of gift to my younger self as well as to all children who have ever wanted to go on a journey around India.
The book was inspired by my family. My father was very proud of his heritage and when we were growing up, he told us that one day we would have an adventure. We would hire a jeep and take a road trip to India and once we were there, he would show us its incredible sights, amazing history and mind-blowing wildlife.
India, Incredible India is the sort of book that fires the imagination. Layered between the facts is a story of the bond between Nanijee (Grandmother) and Thara (her granddaughter). Each night when Thara sleeps over, Nanijee lets her choose an object from her beautiful carved trunk. Each of the objects has been lovingly collected over many years and when it is taken out, Nanijee tells a story of the object and where it is from.
Researching the book was such fun. I wanted to include surprising facts which you might not ordinarily read about. The beautiful illustrations by Nina Chakrabarti vividly bring the text alive, making it a gorgeous book to share as a class. Children will have great fun spotting the sheroes throughout, each one will teach you a lesson about courage, strength, perseverance and determination:
- Did you know: the Indian Women’s Cricket Team are nicknamed the Women in Blue because of their team colours of peacock blue? Team captain Mithali Raj is the highest scorer worldwide in women’s cricket
- Guess what: Arunima Sinha is a national-level volleyball player and mountaineer. She is the world’s first female amputee to climb Mount Everest and five other world peaks, including Mount Vinson, Antarctica’s highest mountain.
- Have you heard of: Mary Kom? She’s an international boxing star who grew up in the eastern state of Manipur in a small village near the beautiful Loktak Lake, with its blue shimmering water. She was only fifteen when she left home for the city to train. Mary went on to win bronze at the 2021 London Olympics.
- Alert ground control: The two women in charge of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, Ritu Karidhal and Muthayya Vanitha, were always fascinated by space, and becoming scientists was a dream come true.
- Beat this: Sania Mirza is a six-time Grand Slam champion and winner of 43 doubles titles. She is also a strong voice in encouraging girls to take up the sport and follow in her footsteps.
India, Incredible India is a book made for sharing. It can spark research into topics such as climate change and children can discover how an ordinary person like Jadav Payeng planted thousands of trees to stop the flooding of his home, Majuli Island, in Assam. The final spread is all about home. Moranwali, the village of the peacocks, is my mother’s village in the Punjab and I loved including this. It could open up a discussion of where we’re from for example and lead to the creation of illustrated family trees.
I am so proud of this book and hope all the readers who open its pages feel the magic I felt when I wrote it!
India, Incredible India is available to purchase online from Amazon or from Bookshop.org.
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