Amra and the Witch
Nominated | Book Awards 2019 | Children's/Young Adult Writing
Amra and the Witch
Full Title: illustrated by Chetan Sharma
Author: Arefa Tehsin
Publisher: Duckbill Books
Award Category: Children's/Young Adult Writing
About the Book:
Only those who really, badly need an answer would dare go to the witch! But Amra has done something bad, and he really, badly needs to know if he is in trouble ...
About the Author:
Arefa spent her childhood visiting the jungles of Aravalis with her naturalist father. As a child, she was often found trying to catch a snake or spin a yarn. She grew up to be a story-spinner and was appointed the honorary wildlife warden of Udaipur for a term. She is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books and writes columns and articles for various dailies and magazines. To know more about her writing, visit www.arefatehsin.com.
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The book is a delightful peek into the ways of the Bhil tribe which reside in the forests. The varied characters that you encounter, their way of life rooted to nature, the little details of their everyday life and the twist in the plot at the end makes this an engrossing read. Wonderful read especially for today’s children who are far removed from the natural life of forest tribals.
I really liked the writing of the Author.
The story is really very good as it really feels like I am watching a film.
I am really looking forward to read all the books of Author Arefa Tehsin
Great job Arefa Tehsin !!
The hole in this Hole Books publication is also an opening to the possibilities of ‘many truths’ against just ‘The Truth’. It takes its readers into the realms of inquires into the established norms.
The story is a celebration of childhood, specifically that of a tribal child. If you visit a Bhil tribe dominated village in Southern Rajasthan, you can actually hear the terms used in the story for addressing people, and see the same attires, and find a similar school!
It is also, as if you are continuously on the run with Amra― up and down the hills, from home and from school and in the jungles of Aravalli.
A story which hardly stops for you to catch your breath, ‘Amra and the Witch’ is a joy to read, which, at the same time, would take young readers to meet their worst fears, and get over with them by understanding that fear might just have a funny side!
I loved the book very much.
It took me back to my childhood and really enjoyed reading it
Author, Arefa has done the great job and her writing is very beautiful and creative.
All the best Arefa Tehsin for many more such books.
Interesting tale on a day in the life of 2 tribal friends. An easy read with a bit of suspense that keeps you hooked. The setting and the characters are rustic and likeable.
I am more of a fictional novel reader and not much of a wildlife enthusiast. However, This booked was suggested to me and to my surprise, I found it very engaging and well written. A book you cannot keep down!!
I finished Amra and the Witch at one go. It made for an enchanting read. The way the writer has captured the subtle cadences of village life – the traditions, the language, the daily nuances is awesome. I simply loved the delightful role play of Veerma and quirky nature of Bhooriya baba. The final twist in the tale, was of course, the most charming part of the book. The illustrations by Chetan Sharma complement the tale beautifully!
Reading “Amra and the witch” was as though I was living my childhood as a Bhil boy in the dry deciduous forests of one of the oldest mountains in the world— The Aravallis. A joy for children to go through the mysteries of the jungle…a great flight of imagination by the author.
Amra and the Witch- The title itself depicts thrill and mystery. Arefa Tehsin has always captured her readers thoughts and mind, and through her simple descriptive language , the readers experience thorough entertainment, knowledge and fun, in the most simplest way.
Amra & the Witch, is a HOLE book experience of the innocence of a small village lad, his guilty conscience, and his desperateness to get an answer about the same, from the Jeevti Dakkan. The book lays down a vivid picture of the simple tribal village life of Bhils and their struggles in a funny yet poignant way.
This story also reveals one of the most wanted rational answers about the legendary ghostly sound of “chhum chhum”, which almost all of us associate with ghosts and witches and atmas. The author has very interestingly, tried to unveil the rational approach towards this legendary myth.
The book is all fun, and keeps the readers tied up, till the last word.
Amra & the Witch, is yet again, an interesting one, from Ms. Tehsin. A blend of humour, superstition, and a small mystery, painted on the canvas of the tribal village life of the Bhils. The story is woven around the struggles of Amra and his parents, comic Veerma , Ma’at saab and bhooriya baba, along with the abstract antagonist, the Jeevti Dakkan!
All these characters highlight the basic bhil life style, values, traditions & superstitious beliefs. The urge to find out an answer to his unintentional wrong deed, led Amra , to unknowingly discover the actual Jeevti Dakkan, and perhaps the science behind the art of witch’s ” chhum chhumm”!
“Amra and the Witch” is breath taking in its depth and simplicity. A quick and easy read, it nonetheless leaves the reader with a warm and contented feeling in the pit of your stomach for a long time to come. The words and images evoke undiluted memories of childhood and paint a vivid picture of the simplistic village life with all its whims and quirks. You can see the anticipation in Amra’s eyes at the thought of fresh ‘Makki ki Roti”, smell the ripe ber on the bushes, taste the rich, sticky honey from Bhooriya Baba’s bucket, feel Veerma’s fear at the thought of entering the hut of “Jeevti Dakkan” and clearly hear the santi beans tinkling on the dry peepul leaves. True to her naturalistic core, Arefa has stealthily and artistically incorporated a wealth of information about the nature in her setting – the maize fields, the Peepul and Mahua trees, the squirrel, the woodpecker and the porcupine, all come to life between the pages. The book is a must-have not only on a child’s bookshelf, but also for all adults who want to catch and hold on to a small slice of that carefree, joyous childhood.
Amra and the Witch is an easy-breezy read filled with gems of funny snippets, a quirky set of characters, a small catchy poem on corn and a mystery with a ghost in it! Perfect page turner! But for me, as a reader, the thing that stands out in the book is how the author has effortlessly and in a funny way depicted the life and hardships of tribal/village kids through this story. You do not feel that they are the “others.” The book is sure to build empathy for the have-nots in both adults and kids who read it. A beautiful, beauitufl story. The illustrations go perfectly well with the tale. Clearly, one of the best children’s book to come out last year.
As a father and grandfather who has read many stories to my little one, I would have added this to the collection. Through its graphic description, it tells of village life. And the two friends race through the day where nothing seems to go right. Yet, it shows to readers that doing the right thing can turn the worst day into a success. I highly recommend Amra and the Witch. I intended to rate it at 5 Stars if it doesn’t’ Shoe.
Amra and the witch…while reading this beautifully written book, I was roaming down the memory lane of my childhood. Childhood which belongs to a village with corn fields, jungle, small school and ghost rumours and stories.
Arefa has written this book with such picturesque descriptions and finer details of village life of a school going boy Amra and his bhil friend Veerma, any body can relate.
Even if reader is unaware of village life, he/she can taste the slice of a adventurous day of village life. Corn fields, nice breeze, chirping birds, goats, village school, mud houses, jungle, haunted hut, boys playing with rolling old tyres and Makki ki roti.
I loved Amra and Veerma’s curiousity for haunted hut of Jeevti Dakkan ( live witch) who answers all questions.
No! I m not going to tell the story …I am pretty sure if you just read few lines then u will end up to read whole book. Amara’s story made me nostalgic. It may be a children’s book but adults also can enjoy it thoroughly.
“Amra and the Witch” is breath taking in its depth and simplicity. A quick and easy read, it nonetheless leaves the reader with a warm and contented feeling in the pit of your stomach for a long time to come. The words and images evoke undiluted memories of childhood and paint a vivid picture of the simplistic village life with all its whims and quirks, especially the birth of superstitions. You can see the anticipation in Amra’s eyes at the thought of fresh ‘Makki ki Roti”, smell the ripe ber on the bushes, taste the rich, sticky honey from Bhooriya Baba’s bucket, feel Veerma’s fear at the thought of entering the hut of “Jeevti Dakkan” and clearly hear the santi beans tinkling on the dry peepul leaves. True to her naturalistic core, Arefa has stealthily and artistically incorporated a wealth of information about the nature in her setting – the maize fields, the Peepul and Mahua trees, the squirrel, the woodpecker and the porcupine, all come to life between the pages. The book is a must-have not only on a child’s bookshelf, but also for all adults who want to catch and hold on to a small slice of that carefree, joyous childhood.
A craftily woven tail of the make believe world of children.set in simple village surroundings deep inside the jungle. The role playing of children is beautifully depicted with the red cloth wrapped around the head making Veerma the bania, flying freely Dholi bhai and when tied around his waiste he is Daku laxman Singh. Looking for adventure all the time in joy and in despair the duo of Amra and Veerma find themselves in all sorts of trouble with their parents and teacher and in the process crack the superstition of jeevati dakkan. Soon to realize people do appreciate their efforts. The illustrations aptly are in the Malgudi days genre. Trough the book I could feel the longing the writer has for the simple life of the distant village. Recommended for all children young and old.
Amra and the Witch is not only a story of friendship and adventure, it is a story of the reality of the Indian villages. It is a book which stirs and moves and makes you laugh and hold your breath in equal measures. It has the most memorable characters, and I just couldn’t get enough of the wacky Veerma! The animals in the book, even the porcupine family, sound endearing. The sights, smells and lives of a tribal village are so well described and the illustrations so well made that they transport you to a parallel world. A hOle book that should be in the hands of many many children in India. Will await a sequel to another Amra and Veerma adventure!
Arefa casts a spell with this intriguing and magical tale that is bound to fascinate and engage children. The narrative keeps you engaged, and characters are well etched and memorable
The imagery of the local village and its characters along with the flora and fauna are well portrayed. Amra’s friend and partener in mischief has quite the imagination and really adds to the humorous anecdotes of their adventures while discovering life lessons. One can tell that the author has a depth of knowledge of the natural environment to enlighten young and old minds.
A nice simple story told very well. Loved the illustrations as well. Very interesting and gripping, finished reading it in one go. An excellent piece of work by Arefa once again.
‘Amra and the witch’ is an engaging tale of two little boys Amra & Veerma’s adventurous day. Crisp storyline and the weaving in of colloquial terms add a lot of charm to the book.
The vivid description of characters and places brings the book alive. I especially loved how the author so creatively brings out the various role plays done by children using a simple prop.
A special mention for the enchanting illustrations that add depth to the well written story.
Would highly recommend using it as a part of language curriculum in the primary years. Would suggest an addition of a glossary of colloquial terms used, at the end of each page. This would make the process of reading and learning much more meaningful to the children.
In a nutshell, a delightful read with illustrations to match.
Amra was in trouble. Big trouble. As, in the popular adage, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Well, that was exactly what Amra’s day was like. First, the sole of his slipper came off, then he broke a jar of flour at home, then he reached late to school, then he had to to forgo his mid-day meal, then to cap it all, the mother of all troubles; a stone that he hurled to shoo away a porcupine that had strayed near the teacher, hit his very bald head instead. And then…the very frightened Amra took flight.
Now what should he do? He was trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. Between a very angry teacher and possibly an equally angry mother at home. Desperate situations called for desperate solutions and so Amra decided to visit the most fearful and ferocious real-live village witch, Jeevti Dakkan, to seek her help.
We all tend to make mountains out of molehills and our problems seem to loom larger than life. Often one hears about children running away from home for fear of punishment and even worse, physically harming themselves. Hence, this story should comfort many a child that things do go wrong in everyone’s life, and that most situations are never as bad as they seem and, equally so, not all demons are as scary as they are made out to be, whether they exist in real life or in our imagination. A lot of food for thought served up with a touch of humour by the versatile and talented writer, Arefa Tehsin.
Besides, the story, Tehsin has gone the extra mile to blend in the flavour of the village with references to the fragrant flowers of raat-ki-rani, the fav local food–makki-ki-roti and curry made from the fruit of the mahua tree, as well as, the the odhni and ghagra worn by the mother and the local nomenclature for mother and father, namely, Bai and Ba.
The illustrations, too, need a special mention. By means of a few deft strokes of the pen, Chetan Sharma transports us into a typical Indian village. We see a boy spinning a tyre with a stick in the corn field, children seated in the open air classroom under a banyan tree, the simple interiors of the hut, the kerosene lantern dangling from the roof, the mother feeding her family in the kitchen cum dining cum living cum bed-room. This could open up the door for interesting discussions in a classroom on life in a village versus urban lifestyles.
All in all, another wHole-ly satisfying Hole book by Duckbill!
Amra and the Witch
By Arefa Tehsin
Published by Duckbill: A hOle book
This is a gem of a story set in a village in Rajasthan, said to be inspired by the experiences of author’s father who is a well known environmentalist.
Amra, a little boy, and his friend Veerma are afraid of Jeevti Dakkan or the living witch whose abode is an abandoned hut by the scrubland. But anyone who needs an answer to any difficult question must go to Jeevti Dakkan and she will give it to them. When Amra breaks his mother’s maize jar by mistake he wonders if his mother will know he did it. So they must go to Jeevti Dakkamn and ask her…that’s the basic story line. But it progresses in small brilliantly written episodes that bring to life the little village and its inhabitants. For such a short book the characters are wonderfully alive. Veerma, Amra’s friend, full of theatricals, uses his turban cloth in different ways to play different characters: depending on the way it’s wrapped about him, he can become the bandit Dakoo Laxman Singh, or the wise herb woman Dholi Bai or Baniya Bajrangi the village moneylender. Then there’s Ma’ at Saab school master with his upcurled moustaches and dry sarcasm; there’s Bhooriya Baba the tramp who can either say Haan for no or Naaah for yes. Each character is so well etched out you can feel their presence
Local fruits like the mahua and ber, local birds and animals like squirrels, bats and porcupines are all interwoven masterfully into the tale. The book is full of rhythm, with onomatopoeic words used to create an audiovisual quality to the story. ‘Chiii-chii-chii!’ ‘Tweet-tweet-tweet.’ ‘Chuk-chuk-chuk.’ ‘Meeeoooon-meeeooon-meeeoon!’ Birds wailed like banshees. The sounds, colours, smells and tastes make the reading a vivid sensory experience.
There is a lot of action too, especially in the scene depicting the classroom under the tree, the boys quarrelling over Veerma’s tyre, the appearance of the porcupine, and the schoolmaster chasing them around the tree..is like out of a Charlie Chaplin slapstick movie.
Very often illustrations in children’s books take away from the reading by being too colourful, too detailed and too depictive…here the illustrations are black and white line drawings that complement the story beautifully but stay at a secondary level, not stealing the thunder of the effect of reading the text itself. For this I must complement the editors.
The underlying theme of village poverty makes this humorous little book layered and sensitive, with a more serious undercurrent. Nauski the baby with the runny nose plays with a tattered doll and a toy with a broken wheel. Amra’s shoes are badly torn, and there’s no mention of getting new ones. Maize not being available speaks of hunger and malnutrition. The breaking of the maize jar is such a huge issue because they can afford it only occasionally. The children’s rumbling tummies and the importance of the mid day meal served at the school all gently remind the reader that there’s another world out there, which needs respect and validation.
Novelist, playwright, children’s author
I personally think it is an enjoyable book. It’s a very enchanting read .
The book makes you want to find out what happens in the end, keeping you at the edge of your seat until it happens so.
The author has used the best words to describe Amra’s day, from his broken slipper to his snotty sister,the broken pot and ma’at Saab , and in the end Jeevti dakkan and the family dinner.
The poem on corn was a fun bonus
I really enjoyed this book.
It is a recommended must-read, book for all age groups
I enjoyed reading this delightful book of a day when everything has gone wrong for a schoolboy. He looks to his best friend for help and both of them manage to make things worse. The illustrations fit the story perfectly. The descriptions bring the characters to life, whether they’re at school, walking through a field, or have arrived home, and the underlying mystery carries a sense of suspense to each page. Five stars to a wonderful book!
Amra and the Witch is a delightful tale of shenanigans, mischief and mystery. It provides a glimpse into the everyday life of a rural Indian village through the eyes of a child. Written with an easy grace, the author transports the reader to the village itself, with vivid descriptions trees, terrain and animals. The use of ‘sound effects’ and charming illustrations further add to this, pairing wonderfully with the writing. The adventures of Amra and his friend will bring a smile to the face of anyone – child or adult – who reads this book.
Learning right from wrong without being afraid to own responsibility is truly a gift for a story teller to offer to an audience. Especially when the audience is comprised of young souls.Amra and the Witch is one such gift from Arefa. Amra and the Witch offers parents and children hours of thoughtful food for conversation as there are several parables explored about owing truth.
A full 5 star review
This delightful story written by Arefa Tehsin and beautifully illustrated by Chetan Sharma, provides us with a window into the lives of two young school boys in rural India.
Not only does the story entertain us but it gives us a glimpse of simple rural village life and how the people, both children and adults live their simple lives. It makes us appreciate how lucky we are in the “developed world”, and how we take for granted such basics as running water and an abundance of food.
This story amuses, informs and educates us and is appealing to both younger and older readers.The illustrations match the story perfectly and help to bring the story alive.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this yarn and will certainly use it in my English language classes for my students both young and old.
Enjoyed this book thoroughly. The author made me live the experience.
Would definitely recommend reading Amra and the Witch. It is a light and interesting read. The author, Arefa , gives us a vivid look into the life of a village boy. Amra’s mischievous ways, love for food and fear of the consequences of his actions, transports us back to our childhood days. Ma’at Sa’ab was my favourite character.
The illustration were also very nicely done and added colour to the story !!
Just a page into Amra and the Witch, I knew it was going to be a gripping read. The intrigue began right there, leading me quickly to the last page. I particularly enjoyed the lucid language. It evoked stark images of rural life in India that we feel a distant from today. Amra and Veerma feeling thirsty, and a little girl with pots mounted on her head coming to their rescue, was a beautiful reference, subtly recalling simpler times when sharing was a way of life, not a virtue. I would recommend this book to any child or adult for a little journey – thrilling but eventually reassuring!
This is an excellent book for kids of all ages. I read it to my little one and he was immediately captivated by the storyline. Tehsin is an amazing story-teller who beautifully captures child’s imagination and thought processing which are vividly illustrated by Chetan Sharma. Using a very simple theme, Tehsin takes us on Amra’s amazing journey full of love for his family and a matured understanding of his socio-economic status. Amra along with his best friend Veerma takes us on a quest conquering their fears to get to answers they so desperately seek. Amra and the Witch is a must read for kids and parents alike to take a step back and enjoy the moments we dearly miss in our fast-paced city life.
A day when everything goes wrong, yet nothing stops Amra and Veerma from trying to put things back together again… only to dig themselves deeper into trouble!
Amra and the Witch is the story of one of those unbreakable childhood friendships where two buddies make a perfect balance. Each other’s wildest ideas always put into perspective by the other, although together they still make an explosive mix. Along the way, we learn about growing up far away from the city, walking to school through cornfields and fighting off porcupines and mean neighbours. Amra’s world might seem small, but his life is so full of adventures that an entire universe fits on the path between home and school. A real please to read this story of youthful camaraderie and discovery.
The book is a brilliant in its simplicity and makes for a compulsive read. The author’s connect with nature and the local culture comes out effortlessly – illustrations add to the imagination. In today’s digital age where data, connectivity and streaming are the buzz words, stories like these (that are still integral to many a cultures in the rural hinterland) takes you back in time when witch and ‘Jeevati Dakan’ were the running themes of stories told by elders at bedtime
I love all the h0le books from Duckbill. I have the entire collection in my personal library. Not a single one has disappointed me and many have become favorites that I reread from time to time. But when Amra and the Witch came out, I was doubly delighted. Not only was it a terrifically entertaining forest adventure, it’s also an eccentric, complex inner-life story of a boy from a vastly different background than most of the middle-class urban protagonists of other kids’ books. In very few pages, Arefa Tehsin succeeds in capturing the guilt and mixed emotions of being a young boy in a difficult situation – and she does it with generous doses of humor and charming writing. Amra and the Witch was a delight from start to finish and a special achievement in children’s books. I don’t just mean in India, but worldwide. I really believe some of the finest children’s writing is being published in India right now, with Duckbill and the h0le Books series at the forefront of that wave of high quality. Amra and the Witch is among the best of the best. Arefa Tehsin, write on!