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My Year Round Up 2017

And this is what I have been doing the year through.

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January

My new release book Grow Up Messy is showered with love from readers and critics alike. Especial mention here would be for Ahana, my youngest reader so far. She disliked my cover instantly saying its very childish (Considering herself quite grown up for a ten year old) but loved the adventures Misry went through in the book. Although the character Misry is a naughty five year old yet her thoughts are more of a ten year old child. Hence the book is targeted for the middle grade and young adults. The book was loved by the parents and kids alike.

Watched  Poorna, a film by Rahul Bose with the kids of my kids club. They had a fantastic time in the Inox theater with popcorn cold drinks and a very inspiring story of Poorna, an underprivileged girl who became the youngest girl to scale the mount Everest.

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February

A family reunion time. Had been to a wedding at my hometown and was nostalgic as always. Memories freshened up visiting all the old folks and cousins. How can one stay away from family for sooo long I still wonder? Family is the pillar of strength for many of us yet work keep us moving to new places. Sigh!

A short trip to Sunderban was a big surprise packet. Sunderban trip was a very different experience. Chilly winds in the morning didn’t stop us from traveling in a mid-sized trawler boat in the cold water of the Sunderban delta that comprises of confluence of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river right before the Bay of Bengal sea. The mangroves which is the natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tigers were the biggest attraction for us. Throughout the time we were on the boat our eyes were on the lookout for the King of this land. However, we were not that fortunate. We spent the entire day on the cruise eating lavish food like crabs, prawns and other sea fish prepared in the boat itself. Bengalis need nothing more in life after that.

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Tribal girls ready for Jhumar dance

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PS I still have to document my trip on my YouTube and blog. Sigh!

Valentine Day gave me a new surprise. No not my husband. But my son and his pranks. The Day of Love celebrated in a different way. You can read it here.

March

With school holidays set in I didn’t have time for myself anymore. My life and time devoted to the kid’s demand. What a hectic month it had been. With almost all his friends taking examinations D had nobody but me to give him company. I literally had to hunt play mates for him. Finally got him enrolled in badminton classes. And I was stuck with his schedule. While waiting for his training class to be over I made couple of new friends and discovered many new things this small city offered. Especially trips to Malviya Road increased and window shopping turned out to be our favorite pastime. Learning new recipes and bitching about other girlfriends turned out to be another favorite timepass we  women loved to indulge in.

Had been part of writing festival organized by Blogchatter. It was three months of interaction online interaction with aspiring writers and bloggers through twitter chat and facebook live. Here is one of my articles on How to write your first novel.

April

With the temperature raising every single day the thoughts never got a chance to evolve in the mind. I started with the other stories of the Jungle Series besides The Clockmaker. For some reason this series was taking forever to be published. Initially I had ten short story collection and that’s how I promoted my upcoming book. I approached the publishing houses. But nobody was interested to pick up short stories collection from a not so well known author like me.  So I indulged myself in redrafting my stories into a full fledged novel. And it took me another six to eight months to actually finish it.

the clock Maker

 

May

Again a busy month with the kids. My Kids Club had Summer Camp and the days were pretty adventurous. We had a visit to the Post Office, Space Mission, best out of waste and even had a lemonade stall in the busy market place run by the kids. It had been a freaky month with temperature outside reaching 46 degrees centigrade and inside almost touching 50 degrees centigrade with the kids laughter.

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Kids posting handwritten letters to their grandparents

A few things in life has changed me completely and Aakaar, an initiative by the sanskriti department in my part of world is one of them. I got the privileged of learning Madhubani Art from the renowned artist Shrimati Shanti Devi, who has represeImage may contain: 3 people, people sittingnted India in my countries regarding this Indian art form. I am in the kindergarten again and playing with brush after almost thirty years and its like homecoming for me. As a guru she passed on her passion to all of us however we could absorb just a tinge of it. We are all praise for her and her passion for bringing her imagination on the canvas. She says every art has a story. Madhubani or Mithila art was started by Raja Janak to document his daughter Sita’s wedding on the canvas and later the Ramayana. It is a rural art form and was hidden from the world all those years until Bihar was struck with massive earthquake and the paintings were revealed. Keeping up the tradition alive is this acclaimed artist whose wall art has been Image may contain: one or more people and people sittingincorporated on the national museum Delhi. However, it is really painful to see an artist of this caliber being deprived of the samman, respect, which she deserves. She has been part of the project for the last ten years yet few students know her name or even bother to know more about her as an artist. Being a rural woman she doesn’t know internet and hence is not aware of promoting her work on online platforms. She also shared that folk artists are not treated well within the country whereas outside India, people really appreciate their work and give the due respect. I have been offline for a almost twenty days now and she had transferred me to a magical world. A world of gobar handmade canvas over which one takes the flight of imagination and imprints the lines with brush and colorful pallets. Sharing some of her renowned work.

June

Had a two days story telling session with the school kids. I narrated two stories from my new release Grow Up Messy! The students enjoyed the stories very much or maybe they enjoyed the story telling more. They were pretty surprised to know about ebook. Most didn’t like reading books and those who did knew about paperbacks only. However, I was more surprised to know that the kids knew nothing about the armed forces of our country. Since Grow Up Messy! has a military background I had to explain them the basics first. Due to time crunch it was very difficult to make them understand the nature of job these people do. I wish school had a few more sessions where the children could know more about these organizations in our country. Unfortunately, we emphasize more on the career prospects rather than learning.
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Students enjoying after the session

With the arrival of the monsoons we had a short summer retreat to Kanha National Park to meet the Royal Bengal Tiger. We were unfortunate again. We didn’t get a glimpse of the tiger. However, we learned a lot of things about the area. Kanha is situated in Madhya Pradesh and is one of the first Tiger projects in the country started here in 1974.

 

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Jeep Safari at Kanha National Park

July

Watched Lipstic Under my Burkha.This is the first movie I watched with my friends after marriage. Otherwise I would always end up watching Rowdy Rathore or Wonder girl in the theater with my family. Movies of my choice was seldom chosen by family and finally when they did, they slept off while I watched. So LUMB was kind of special for me. Firstly, because of its theme and secondly because of my daring. lol
You can read about my movie moments here.
Our anniversary month. after leading a nomadic life we finally took a step together in settling down eventually.

August

My music lessons started. It was so refreshing to be back in college feeling like a new adult again. Gazals, poems and geet took most part of my day. I also got a chance to perform on stage in chorus in Saraswati vandana too on one occasion occupying the last corner place in the crowd of singers. It was fun. My love for Urdu poetry was rejuvenated here.  I was once more smitten by Urdu Shayars and one of them is the poet Bashir Bhardra. Once again I started writing Hindi poems.  You can read my poems here.
My kids club got a chance to perform on occasion of Independence Day in the most happening place of the city. The kids staged a Hindi drama, Aazadi- Ek Ehsaaas, written and directed by me. And also show themselves in various avatars of the patriotic personalities in fancy dress program. Thankfully all went well and we got covered in various newspaper as one of the fabulous event of the city on the occasion.
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Had a small trip to Chitrakoot water falls, the Nigra falls of India. With the monsoons in full swing it was a spectacular sight.
Had an opportunity to trek to the tribal goddess cave of Gond tribe in a remote village in Rajim.
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Gond Tribe worship place

September

Full fledged preparations for Durga Puja celebrations. For the first

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Bengali comedy Drama

time I was directing a Bengali Natak, Sashi Babur Biyer Swopno, (Shashi Babu’s wedding dreams) written by me.

I had an amateur team of adults to play the roles. And it was not easy to handle them because they all considered me as amateur which I certainly was. However, after working with kids I found it very difficult to work with adults. They had huge ego which got crushed on a slightest budge. Sigh! Nevertheless we staged the show on the specified date and thankfully got appreciated too. All well that ends well. So this drama gave me lots of confidence to stage more shows like this. A city which is very culturally thrived a comedy drama like this one is always appreciated.

October

My first self edit was doing better now. My thoughts were much clearer and my work crispier than before. Meanwhile I also penned couple of Hindi micro poems that had been appreciated by the Hindi speaking community here. October was a month of self discovery for me. I had shut myself off from everything both online and offline. Book ideas and music were the only two things that stayed with me in a positive way. It was a very stressful month for me otherwise.

November

Was more of a socializing month for me. Got an opportunity to see stage performance of Chhattisgarhi lokgeet artists, LokChaya. It was an altogether new experience for me.
Had an opportunity to be part of a Inter school  literary fest held in one of the renowned schools of the city.

December

My birthday month and I share it with my book baby Grow Up Messy! A delight to be loved by kids and parents alike. Misry gathered rave reviews from her readers throughout the year. The second part, The Sibling Saga, is awaited eagerly.
We had a cricket match in our kids club. The parents also joined in and spent a beautiful Sunday morning fielding or bowling in the ground while the kids slashed fours and sixers. Our umpire a newly retired director of the state health department did full justice to his role.
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Posing after the match

Christmas is again being a Santa and bring a smile on people’s face. Collecting unused and old clothes, books, toys and other essentials and distributing to the needy is what our kids club has been doing on regular basis. Visiting oldage homes, orphanage, missionaries is what we have been doing consecutively the last three years. Glad to share that more people are joining hands for this cause.
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Kids interacting with the seniors in the OldAge Home

In the end, I would like to thank all my readers, followers, critics, reviewers, author friends, buddy writers and well wishers and also those who haven’t read me yet, someday you will.  You guys have encouraged me to write more and try new things in the world of fantasy and fiction. Without your support the journey would  not have been possible at all.
This year ends with a beginning for a new year with lots of hopes for all of us. Wish all your dreams come true and mine too.
2017 has been an year of  self discovery for me. Hopefully 2018 shall be one of implementation.

Fun facts about the book, Grow Up Messy! & the writing journey

This post first appeared in as a part of blog tour of Grow Up Messy!.

https://jdrhawkins.com/2017/02/16/grow-up-messy/

Fun facts about the book, Grow Up Messy! & the writing journey

  1. Misry’s character in the book Grow Up Messy! is that of an innocent child who depends more on her mother for her smaller needs. The best part is she expects her mother to be know everything just like the superwoman. She believes there is nothing which her Ma cannot do or hasn’t seen. So when she requests her mother to make Pinjiri, something which she had tasted for the first time elsewhere, it never occurred to her that Ma might not know about its preparation.

This particular scene from the book is very close to my heart. Although the entire episode is very funny but it actually depicts the trust of a child in the mother. Something which no one can ever challenge. I see my son in this episode sometimes.

  1. Children enjoy being dirty. We have done it so many times in our days yet as a parent if we see our child playing in the soil we try to stop him immediately. The same thing our mothers might have also done with us while we enjoyed. Isn’t it strange, when we grow up we follow our mothers so blindly.

There is an episode in the book where Misry plays in the muddy pool and ruins her fresh clothes. No doubt her mother is mad at her.

  1. Children have a very special place for animals in their heart. Whether they have pets at home or not but whenever they get a chance to pet an animal they will never stop themselves. I wish as we grow up we shouldn’t lose this emotion within us. It actually makes us more humane.

In the book, Misry befriends a sacrificial  animal as her pet what follows next is very       heart wrenching.

  1. As kids, our relationship with our first cousins is very interesting. Once in a year, during the school vacation we go to visit them. Whatever, time we spent together is always fun. We use to share things, study together, fight with each other and even share our little secrets. These moments are recreated when Misry visits her Dadu’s house. It is so much fun to have so many family members living under the same roof. Have you ever lived in a joint family or visited one?
  1. It will be a lie if I say I never had any difficulties in learning or rather mugging up the multiplication tables. This was one part that I always hated in Mathematics and the fact is no one said before that this multiplication table I will be using throughout my life. Yet when it comes to our kids we never fail to tell them how easy it is to learn the multiplication table. Was it really???

The book has a chapter for that too. Seriously dedicated to the Multiplication Tables.       How Misry and her family copes with it is something to watch out for.

How much transparency is needed for our Armed forces?

The post first appeared on

http://www.ddsreviews.in/2017/01/Transperency-Armed-Forces.html?spref=fb

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost – How much transparency is needed for our Armed forces? by Paromita Goswami

When I wrote the book Grow Up Messy! I mentioned in details about the life of personnel working in Border Security Force. My chest always swells with pride whenever I read the scenes in the book. My father worked in B.S.F and hence I was brought up in that environment. It really helped me in shaping me up as a responsible citizen of my country. I have a special corner in my heart for the people in the armed forces. There was a time when I too wanted to join the uniform cadets however, I was destined to do something else. We will talk about it later.

The recent video of a B.S.F jawan that went viral on the internet and that which has really shaken the faith in the olive and khaki uniforms has really hurt me too. The video was about the quality of the cooked meal supplied to the Jawans at the border. It showed burned Rotis, Dal, without Tadka and all. And in my book, I have a complete chapter how Misry loved the Langar ka Tadka Dal.

Here is the excerpt:

Misry relished food prepared in the langar. First, the food had a manly touch unlike her mother cooking at home, which meant more oil, more spices and “Tadka”. And second, the food was cooked in huge chulha unlike the L.P.G gas cylinder at home and so the food had a different aroma and taste to it.

The Jawans had a special liking for Misry. Her presence and innocent questions reminded them of their children back at home, whom they missed very much. They loved to have her around and treated her like one of their children.

One of the cooks had also made a small bench and table for her to sit and eat with the rest of the platoon. The Head Cook knew about Misry’s love for langar food so he separated a small portion for her and added his special spices to it.

If I have to believe this video then I must say it was never so bad earlier. However, I understand things have changed over the years. The Jawans might be too stressed out defending the peace for our country just as we do while meeting our deadlines. Has life really changed so much? In the Video, Teg Bahadur has blamed his senior officers for selling off the ration that is distributed to them by the government. Can this really happen? Can someone even think of making money in this manner? If it were true then can that person be really termed as a patriot serving the armed forces to serve the nation? I don’t think so.  Such traitors need not be in any armed forces.

Every officer has a big responsibly of motivating his men so that they remain stress-free while standing in the first line of defense.  Every grudge of a Jawan,  no matter how small it maybe, is first dealt with these officers. It is his duty to see that his men are well taken care of unless of course, he is a victim of this bad practice too.

Not all officers are corrupt but those who are, they are really putting the lives of civilians at a big risk. And eventually the security of the country. I have only one question for them –What good is your money earned by corrupt means if the nation does not survive. Of course, India is very strong for this handful of corrupt people for we are the people of the country that has a big history of legends and no one can shake that trust off us be it money or fame.

However,  I do feel there should be more transparency in our armed forces too. With the growing technology, everything is visible now like this viral video. So why not make our procuring system and recruitment in the armed forces more transparent. Let the Jawans know how well they are being treated.

Another Video is of a CRPF Jawan who questions the facilities enjoyed by the paramilitary and the Central Armed police Force. When the risk is same then why not the facility. Let the parameters for selection be the same in both the forces. Earlier, when the Central Armed Police Force was established its main duty of line was restricted to only certain areas just like the B.S.F.

After Chinese aggression in 1962 in India B.S.F was established on 1st December 1965, to safeguard the international land and water borders of the country only. However, over the years their line of duty has changed. The B.S.F personnel is now doing all kinds of other duties besides guarding the international border. So why have their facilities not changed?

My book Grow Up Messy! is dedicated to BSF fathers who crave to watch their child grow.

No child would love to see their father so much in pain due to food condition or due to the lack of facilities. It is at a time when the men working in the forces should be heard.

P.S  To enter the #Giveaway please follow the above mentioned link.

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Siddhangana Karmakar

The review first appeared on

http://siddhanganak.blogspot.in/

I won’t say I don’t read children’s books. If I chance upon a good children’s fiction I dive right into it, simply because I find them richer in imagination.

Growing Up Messy is a heart warming story which reminded me parts of my childhood having born and brought up in a 2nd tier city of Bengal. Misry’s escapades during afternoon hours truly made me connect with her. How many afternoons I must have spent doing the same! How much patience my mother would have shown to tolerate my disobedience.

Right from the character Misry to the descriptions of the world around her and the innocent naughty acts that Misry aka Messy got into reminded me of Tagore’s short stories as well.

I think it fits a much wider range of readers apart from middle grade. It can be a good read for mothers because it captures psychology of children and I personally feel it also sets standards for the modern parent. Things like not over indulging your child, making your kid realise the difference between want and need. The very busy parents of today who have high purchasing ability sometimes forget that indulgence is not always the answer. A story like this can be a gentle reminder to them while they read it out as a bedtime story for the young ones.1

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Mahima

This post first appeared in

https://incorrigiblemusings.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/grow-up-messy/

The Review:

 

Grow Up Messy is a story of a 5-year-old girl Misry who is called as Messy by everyone because of the mess she creates. Misry father has a job which makes him change cities frequently.

The story is from the point of view of Messy which shows her innocence and guile. Messy is a ball of anxiousness and excitement which causes a ruckus and hence she got coined as Messy.

Throughout the story it is cute and sweet moments of a mother-daughter relationship in which makes the read more enjoyable. Apart from the adventures of Messy, the story depicts the day to day lives and sacrifices of army personnel and their families.

A book worth reading as it gets you to take a trip down the memory lane to your childhood which we often forget when as we get old.

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Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Author Devika Fernando

As posted in Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33089831-grow-up-messy

I don’t often read children’s books, but off and on, I’ll make an exception for a friend. And I’m glad I gave “Grow Up Messy” a chance, because it is a delightful read that manages to capture an adult’s attention and even heart just as easily as a child’s.

The story follows five-year-old Misry alias Messy through her life, giving us glimpses of her daily routine and the family dynamics as well as offering startling and sparkling surprises of a child’s mind. The author manages to make the book entertaining and light-hearted with a tinge of humor on the one hand, and thought-provoking on the other hand. Through the stories with a moral (and with their apt end that fits right in with the title) we learn about society and how it should and should not treat children. We are immersed in how India deals with education and social norms, in what is expected of good little girls, and how far a little imagination can take a child. Misry is adorable and spunky, and I grew to love her mother too. The descriptions make the setting and characters come alive, and there is just the right amount of realistic dialogue.

“Grow Up Messy” would make a lovely read for a mother or even to read out loud to a child in a similar age. I can even imagine some of the chapters being valuable for teaching in schools.
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The inspiration behind my new book Grow Up Messy!

This post originally appeared at
What is the inspiration behind my new book Grow Up Messy!?

I always find my ten years old enjoying the cartoon programs on the television channels. Sometimes I also sit down next to him to watch the show. It is so good to watch him so excited especially when the cartoon characters are out on an adventure. My son would be fidgeting or squealing along with the background music. I wondered what was so special about these stories –  Chota Bheem running in the forest looking for his friends who are abducted or Nobita again stuck up somewhere with Doraemon’s gadgets or Motu and Patlu flying up in the air when kicked by the boxer. If that was not enough there is the Ben10 using all sorts of gadgets to save the alien attack.

No matter what the plot was the children enjoyed it and are glued in front of the television set for hours at stretch. And it is not at all good for their health. It is a very common site to find a very young child in specs due to eyesight problem these days. However, it was a very rare sight a few decades back. Even children sitting indoors at home was a rare sight.

Most of our childhood days were spent outdoors having fun with friends. And even today they are our best memories. There was so much we could do and so much we could see and learn from experience.

However, as parents now, we hardly allow our children to learn from their experience. We are always telling them what is right and what is wrong and on top of that, they have a limited time to do what they actually want to do, play.  Homework, tuitions, curricular activities, swimming session, dance session, karate classes the list is endless. By the end of the day, the child is completely tired, of course with physical exertion, however not because the child had been doing what he or she wanted to do but what we wanted him or her to do.

This is mostly due to two reasons, FEAR and QUALITY TIME. We fear our child will lag behind in the rat race and hence we start equipping the child from an early stage putting in so much pressure on the little mind that they forget what they really want to do. They start looking at us for the next instruction eventually growing up into an adult who is unable to make decisions or take its responsibility. As parents, we are so busy with our career that even though we might be physically present with the child yet our mind wanders elsewhere. We fail to give the quality time. And even if we do, we restrict it to weekends or other holidays not when the child needs it most, when he gets up from sleep, when he comes back from school and when he is put to bed.

In my book, Grow Up Messy! the protagonist, Misry alias Messy, is a naughty five-year-old and she does all that she wants to do. Sometimes it is right sometimes it is wrong but whatever the end result is, she experiences it firsthand. And astonishingly these small experiences actually shape her up as she grows. Each of the chapters is like small stories interwoven which any parent can enjoy reading with their child. It is more like an adult reliving the childhood and sharing with the child. Set in the early eighties West Bengal, the book is truly inspired by the innocence of the childhood. Let them be what they want to be FOR NOW.

You can read more by following the above mentioned link.

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Mahathi Ramya

As taken from http://www.fantasticfeathers.in/2017/01/grow-up-messy-by-paromita-goswami-book.html

This is the story of a sweet naughty 5-year-old girl Misry who is called as Messy by everyone because of the mess she creates. Misry is the daughter of Anurag who works at Border security force and thus have to move to many places due to his dad’said work assignments.

As expected, the story shows the world in the perspective of a 5-year-old, her naughtiness and her innocence. Like every other parent, her mother Madhavi sometimes says, ‘Grow up Messy’ because of the kids’ naughtiness. Also, she loves the innocence, intelligence and energy of her daughter and prays inside her heart ‘Never grow up, Messy’.

That’s very true of parenting right? Even though kids annoy us with their childish behavior, they are adorable too. We want them to become mature but worry that we miss their innocence and naughtiness. As I am already managing 2 year and 5-year-old boys, I could relate to this feeling.

More than the childhood adventures of Misry, I learned about the lifestyle and sacrifices of the families of army who protect our country day and night to keep us safe. These lines from the book are worth a mention
“Men in uniform have no time to look behind for their family. Restoring peace and harmony had always been foremost for them. Salute to their wives who are so strong willed that even in situations like these they know how to take control of themselves and let their men march away for the nation without any frown on their forehead.”
Misry is adorable and intelligent for her age. Her mother Madhavi shows good patience while managing misry and clarifying her doubts. Anurag is an ideal father and the way he deals the problem when misry stops going to school for a silly reason is very nice. The characters of misry’s dadu and dadi, pallavi mashi, honey etc are portrayed very well and make the story strong. I loved reading this book in a 5 year old perspective and would recommend this to parents as well as children. The ending felt abrupt though it says to read second part of the book series. It might have been better. The book cover and title are apt.
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Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Kishnan

The story revolves around a little girl Misry (named after an Indian sweet). But people around her call here Messy, just like making fun of her.
A light hearted story with the story revolving around our sweet little protagonist Misry. It is a beautiful story showcasing the beautiful lifestyle of Misry far from the humdrum of the city life.
The story shows how differently kids grow up far in the countryside and enjoy the nature than the electronics gadgets that the city kids get from their parents.
Having sweet revenge on his cousin Raju and Bheeru, it was awesome when I reading the story. It made me feel as if I am not connected to the real world and how it functions. I felt as if I am busy being busy.
Jatra an Indian play (like theaters) was something that I read about after a long long time. When I was a kid I did go to Jatra and played with goat kids and calves. I had a great time back then and really enjoyed life.
The author has done an incredible job in describing all those details and I relived the moments all over again the story.
It is a great book for kids and they will fall in love with the story plot. Whatever a little girl can do, Misry has done it.
Awesome book!

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