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The curious case of children’s literature

By Bijal Vachharajani

Why don’t international book lists really get Indian kid-lit? A question I have often pondered, and am sure others in the industry have as well.

Two years ago, The Guardian, which has excellent recommendation for kid-lit and YA Books, published an article titled, “What are the best children’s books about India?” The list included some outstanding books, but most weren’t really representative of the country’s diverse kid-lit. Especially if you’re looking for slice-of-life stories. Two of the selections, for instance, were folk tales. Another pick, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, isn’t really the best example, when there’s an entire fleet of publishers creating some fantastic new children’s literature in English in our country. The more updated list actually comes from Duckbill’s Sayoni Basu in the comments section of the piece. Read more

Source: The Hindu

 

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Have you written a children’s story inspired by Asia?

The Scholastic Asian Book Award (Saba) is a joint initiative between the National Book Development Council of Singapore and publishers Scholastic Asia that “will recognise children’s writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit, and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large”.

Since its inception in 2011, the biennial award has been responsible for publishing English language works by authors from all over Asia, including India, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The best manuscript wins S$10,000 (RM31,000) and will be considered by Scholastic Asia for publication; the authors of the first and second runners-up manuscripts will be offered advice by Scholastic Asia on editing and submitting their works for publication. Read more

Source: Star2.com


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New Release: Dreamagination by Rishav Gupta

dream-bk-cover

When Srinanda Gupta was reading stories to her 6-month-old son, little did she know then that this boy would be an author at the age of eight.

Srinanda fondly recalls the day Rishav walked up to her with his drawings and said he wanted a “real” book.

“I clearly remember how happy and confused I was at the same time because I did not quite understand what he meant. After a conversation, Rishav made it clear that he actually wanted to be an author,” says the mother who also teaches at Chatsworth International School in Singapore.  She decided to nurture his passion and give him time to become responsible for his own initiative. Rishav named the book The Lion’s Walk. Each page focused on a place and some detail that he observed of that particular place.

“He narrated the story while I documented it. What was unique was how Rishav read books, made connections with his personal experiences and applied his knowledge in his writing. I got the pages printed and stitched together,” shares Srinanda. That was Rishav’s first book!

Now this Grade 2 student of Chatsworth International School, Singapore, has a book to his credit Dreamagination, published by Kitaab International.

dremagination

The book is a collection of 10 stories written by Rishav between the age of 3 and 7. Dreamagination is more than a book. It is a writing journey of a young boy from doodling, to drawing and then consolidating his ideas in writing.

“This is a big wish come true! You must dream and when the dream becomes bigger, bigger and bigger, it comes true. I want to encourage everyone around the world to write because it helps people to communicate and you can express your heart full of stories. You need dreamagination to live,” says Rishav.

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India: Why a Marathi childhood is incomplete without Madhuri Purandare’s books

By Pooja Pillai

madhuri-purandare

Madhuri Purandare is rarely to be found among children. The writer and illustrator has a “long distance” relationship with her readership. “It’s not as if I maintain this distance deliberately,” says the 64-year-old. And it has not made a difference to her work. Purandare is one of the most successful writers for children in Marathi literature, and has had her works translated into English, Urdu, Kannada, Assamese, Telugu and Hindi. Besides notable works like Babachya Mishya, Radhach Ghar and Chitravachan, the Pune-based writer also conceived and edited Vaachu Anande, an anthology for children that juxtaposes classics of Marathi literature with iconic artwork from across India. For her contributions to children’s literature, she won the Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar in 2014, and more recently, the first Big Little Book Award instituted by Parag, an initiative of the Tata Trusts.

As is evident from her stories, Purandare sees children as they really are: individuals with strong likes and dislikes, who do not like being talked down to and who are not universally adorable. “Her stories have a sense of rhythm and flow. They are very visual as well, making it easy for even struggling readers to comprehend,” says Shubhada Joshi, founder of the Pune-based alternative school Khelghar, which uses Purandare’s books in its reading programmes. Joshi says, “Every story takes you into a child’s world, shows you how she perceives the world. Her writing creates opportunities for children to ask questions and think independently. Her work also gives parents and teachers an insight into a child’s imagination.” Read more

Source: The Indian Express


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Prince charming who? How Indian children’s books are challenging stereotypes

Stories of demons, gods and fairy tales with happy, moralistic endings probably formed a memorable part of your childhood. You may remember reading these stories, but do you remember asking why the princesses were always soft-spoken, swooning, fair-skinned women waiting to be rescued?

Gender tends to be a recurring theme in Manjula Padmanabhan’s books. The 63-year-old author wrote “Unprincess” in 2005, a collection of three children’s stories, with the simple motive to write “entertaining and interesting” tales with non-princess characters for heroines.

“I don’t fret about meanings as I write. I know they’re embedded in everything I do,” she told TNM. Manjula highlights what has been problematic with the dominant discourse of children’s literature. Selling unquestioned stereotypes in the guise of moralistic happily ever-afters.

However, like Manjula, there are people who are seeking to create alternative children’s literature which is diverse, inclusive, and sensitive.

Bengaluru-based Maegan Dobson Sippy and Bijal Vachharajani curate books for children and young adults on their Instagram account “BAM! Books”. The initiative is about 10 months old and hopes to be a platform for parents, educators and readers to find the latest books and trends, especially those with South Asian aspirations. Read more


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Literary powerhouses you need to read

Be it bizarrely imaginative, utopian, or even real-life stories, you are what you read. Here’s a round-up of ten authors that every teen must read

The books we read influence our thoughts, decisions and values.

Choosing the right book in your teens is an important step in the journey of exploring books as well as understanding life a little better.

There are classics, which have been influential in the early 1900s and will continue to do so for years to come.

On the other hand, there are books, which are on their way to making history.

PG Wodehouse

“I always advise people never to give advice.”

– PG Wodehouse

If wit and humour are what you are looking for then nobody can beat PG Wodehouse. The feather-brained ‘Bertie Wooster’, the amazing valet ‘Jeeves’ and the verbally dexterous ‘Psmith’, have gained an iconic status in the literary world. Wodehouse captures the humorous side of life in his books. His notable works are Right Ho Jeeves, Thank you Jeeves, Laughing gas, and The code of the Woosters. Read more


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Book review: Ramayana For Children by Arshia Sattar

ramayan-for-children

Thirty decades after her translation of Valmiki’s Ramayan, Arshia Sattar retells this epic for children. The Ramayan obviously never gets old. This past weekend, when I took the sumptuously illustrated book of many rakshasas home, my eight-year-old’s eyes gleamed; it was then beyond argument who would have first dibs on it.

Sattar, according to the publisher’s description, remains true to Valmiki’s version of this variously interpreted text. It’s interesting then that Lakshmana is shown in a much better light in the story than his elder brother. Read more


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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Payal Dhar

By Monideepa Sahu

payal-dhar

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

This is a deceptively difficult question. I’ve thought about it for days, wondering how to answer it without sounding hackneyed. (And does the fact that I don’t have a deep, clever answer mean I have no good reason to be writing?!) The main reason is I write, I suppose, is because I like it. There are the beginnings of all these stories inside my head and the only to find out what happens next is to write them down and see where they go. This process of a story unfolding and then coming together is very exciting. It’s almost as much fun as reading a book.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I have a few works in progress at the moment. One of them is a fantasy novel I’ve been stuck on for more than half a decade. Some people say I should abandon it, but I feel it has a life still. Another falls somewhere between a school story and mystery story, and also between MG and YA. The third is a standalone YA fantasy where we find out that a deja vu is actually a time jump (!); and the fourth is a secret!

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I like to keep it simple. The best writing advice I got was from a journalism teacher who told us that the kind of writing we should be aiming for was “Famous Five” (of Enid Blyton fame). At that time I thought that was ridiculous — why should you write like you’re writing for ten-year-olds? Only later I realized the wisdom behind that thought. That rather than showing off how many big words you know, write so that even a child could understand it. And it is harder than it looks, even when you *are* writing for children.

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Punjab has zero literature for children: Gulzar

gulzarIt is disappointing that Punjabi is ‘zero’ in children literature with nothing available for them in the language, said noted poet, lyricist and film-maker Gulzar on Wednesday.

During his first interaction at Punjab University with students, faculty members and staff after he assumed the Tagore Chair professorship, Gulzar said, “It is a matter of grave concern that we don’t have children literature and we are making no effort to write for them. Writing for children is very difficult. The language used for writing for an eight-year-old will be different from what you use for a 12-year-old.”

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Exploring children’s literature in Nepal

A manuscript of 1000 plus pages with a couple dinosaur drawings sits among several piles of other children’s books at the Kathalaya office. Shanta Dahal, production manager at the publication house, has recently been going through it and it is apparent that this is a project she is particularly excited about.

“Perhaps for the very first time, we have a fictional story in Nepali with elements of paleontology. The characters here are all dinosaurs. These are basics that senior school students have to learn about in their science classes. We thought a book like this would make it more interesting for them to study,” explains Dahal.

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