A swishfizzing Saturday at Bookaroo

Swishfizzing Saturday. Snadoodly Saturday. Superbilify Saturday. I had, what I can say without doubt, the most fun I have ever had at readings last Saturday at the Bookaroo children’s literature festival in Delhi. Bookaroo is above all a wonderful time to catch up with authors, illustrators and editors who remain an email address for most of the year. There were a couple of firsts of putting a face to a name. Squiggle Takes a Walk (or was that a leap, hop, screech, yelp…) The afternoon had me as Squiggle, alongside three lovely ladies from Zubaan – my editor Anita Roy, Meghna and Ishani – as punctuation marks. As we enacted the book, we leapt off a knee-knockingly-high stage with wild abandon, pummelled into each other as Squiggle and Exclamation Mark, got looked down the nose by Colon and got dragged back up on stage by the annoying Quotation Marks. And this was just a bit of the mad romp through the session. Since no party can be complete without some games, this punctuation party had its very own version of Punctuation Dumb Charades followed by the children and me attempting to do justice to Vikram Nandwani’s artistic Squiggle. AND we did a count down to throw four free copies of the book into the crowd to officially launch the book! She’s here and I love her ūüôā ‘Who am I?’ wondered Squiggle Some of the lovely punctuation Getting hooked by the rather annoying quotation marks Doodle time! Some of the lovely illustrations Book signing time! ¬†Going hysterical with the History Mystery series The Duckbill platypuses and I went¬†hysterically historical...
To whom do you dedicate a book on thumb sucking?

To whom do you dedicate a book on thumb sucking?

There is something about dedications in books. Even before I published a book, I never skipped reading the dedications that start off a book. It is that little glimpse into the author’s emotions, thought process… their voice – a glimpse into their real life, possibly. Authors write dedications related to the encouragement and support that the concerned person has provided in the writer’s life, possibly been a source of inspiration. It could be a wish that something conveyed in the book comes true in turn for the people the book is dedicated to. An expression of love, respect, acknowledgement in the writer’s most precious currency – words. Every dedication that I put in, means a lot to me. I like to connect¬†the content of the book, to the person I am dedicating it to … well, in most cases other than in my first book, Icky, Yucky, Mucky!. The dedication, to Sidhant, Antara and Sunish is for their encouragement to my writing and their tolerance for hearing the same story over and over again, in its many forms. It wasn’t inspired by them (just making sure we are¬†quite clear, given the content of the story). However, what does one do when a story such as Anaya’s Thumb is indeed inspired by one of my offspring? It becomes a rather delicate matter. Do I say, ‘For ______ for inspiring me with your lip sucking? May you stop soon!’ or ‘For _________. I’ve tried everything! I’ve even written a book on it! NOW STOP!’? I thought it best instead, to include a lip sucking hippo calf in the story and dedicate...
What I’ve learnt in 50 readings

What I’ve learnt in 50 readings

I conducted my 50th book reading, yesterday!¬† I can still recall, rather vividly,¬†the sheer terror that threatened to overtake me at the launch reading of Icky, Yucky, Mucky! at the Kala Ghodha Arts Festival in 2011. The moment when the tremor in my voice stopped and I was enjoying being Maharaja Icky, juggling rosogullas. Since then, I’ve published eight books across different age and genre and tailored readings to suit different groups. It has been a tremendous learning experience and even though I still get collywobbles the night before, the moment I am in front of a group of kids, everything else falls away¬†away and I’m there to have fun.¬† So what have 50 readings helped me learn? School readings work differently from readings at festivals and in bookstores. In schools you read to a¬†group that is homogenous in age, in a controlled environment conducive to a reading and where the children are in their comfort zones. At festivals and in bookstores, you have to account for a varied age group, a kid crying for his mother, late arrivals, kids kicking each other and higher ambient sound.¬†Hence, they need to be planned differently. For readings at festivals and bookstores, I simplify, plan for it to work across a broader range of ages and work in shorter activities that I can pick from, during the reading. Unless you have an assistant, plan something you can manage yourself. However, don’t hesitate to ask for help from teachers and parents in distributing activity sheets, pencils, wobbly eyes and such. Have a backup for everything, even when you have asked for it –...
Maharaja Moochh cupcakes!

Maharaja Moochh cupcakes!

Look what I rediscovered as I was browsing through the Icky, Yucky, Mucky blog that was started when my first book released! Wonderful (if I may say so myself) Maharaja Moochh cupcakes that I had created back then. Inspired at the time by Maharaja Icky, they fit the role of Vandana Bist’s portrayal of Akbar in Akbar and the Tricky Traitor rather well! In fact, since many of our maharaja’s had moustaches of all forms, moochh cupcakes can quite easily work for the entire History-Mystery series! As you scroll down to take a look, for those who are cooking and baking inclined, here is a idea for your next food creation. In Mauryan times, brightly coloured beards were a fashion statement amongst men. How about trying out a cupcake-la-beard? Please share photographs if you do try. Take a look at Akbar’s and Maharaja Icky’s moustaches on the book covers. Aren’t they wonderfully full and perfectly curled? The boys were thrilled to munch away on the Maharaja’s moustaches. Back then, the girls decided to do a messier version of fairy cupcakes till we could get around to a nibbly Maharani cupcake. A closer look revealed that those crescent things on top could well be Maharani Yucky’s nibbled off nails instead of fairy wings! Share...

An Icky, Yucky, Mucky song to round off Holi

As I scrubbed out the colour after another colourful Holi festival, the mess and slush all around made me break into the Icky, Yucky, Mucky song. For those of you who haven’t heard it, you couldn’t possibly choose a better day to hear my editor Anita Roy, multi-talented illustrator Anitha Balachandran and me croon! Presenting, without any further ado, the ICKY, YUCKY, MUCKY song, based entirely on the book Icky, Yucky, Mucky! <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/qypEf845oIw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen> ¬† Share...

Author of the month on The Duckbill Gang

Mighty pleased to be Author of the Month on the lovely website, The Duckbill Gang.¬† If you haven’t already, do visit it for your children to sign up and get access to all kinds of fun around books and writing. As author of the month, I’ll be posting on writing, inspiration, grocery lists, stick figures, writing contests and more. Here’s my first post: What do you want to be when you grow up? Shudder!   Share...
Get cracking! History Mystery code sheets!

Get cracking! History Mystery code sheets!

Am delighted to share the History Mystery code sheets as a do-at-home activity with your kids. Ashoka and the Muddled Messages features a mystery of Emperor Ashoka’s messages being muddled. In real life we had forgotten how to read the script that Emperor Ashoka had his messages written in. We had the mystery of the unreadable script! Along came James Prinsep, determined to decipher it, which he eventually did in 1837. Ashokan Brahmi is India’s earliest deciphered written script today. I’ve created a simplified code and created activity sheets based on letters from Ashokan Brahmi. Decode them and read shortened versions of some of Ashoka’s messages. Follow the link for the sheets and code:¬†THE HISTORY MYSTERY CODE ACTIVITY.   Share...
Rooster Raga crows at Young India books

Rooster Raga crows at Young India books

Review time for Rooster Raga. Delighted to read this on the Young India Books website. “A visual treat with its brilliant colours, great layout and minimal text! This book is sure to delight and entertain children everywhere…¬† …On the surface, the story is bright, effervescent and fun, but deep down it conveys an all-important message to children – It is alright to be different. Everyone has his or her own special talent and own special challenges. It is neccessary to understand and appreciate them and ford our own individual paths with confidence.” -Young India Books ¬† Share...