The joy of home turf

There is something special about reading in a familiar space, on a familiar platform – home turf, if I may. My reading this Saturday at Kitab Khana bookstore as a part of the Children’s Literature section of the Kala Ghodha Arts Festival was one such. With the excitement of limited edition early release copies of my fourth History Mystery, Razia and the Pesky Presents and accompanied by a very tall, very crazy fellow writer, Parinita Shetty as the Wazir and my enthusiastic daughter as a stable hand as we enacted one scene, it was a session I thoroughly enjoyed. From the efficient trio of Lubaina, Parinita and Rukhsar there with hugs of encouragement to knowing my space for the next hour – where I need to leap off an elephant back (a chair stood in for it), the placement of the makeshift palki, where partners in crime need to run to in order to pinch my nose… the stage is familiar ground. There are usually a few known faces amongst the children and new ones who bring much joy with an opportunity to introduce them to my books. From Mr.Jagat and other sales staff who wave out and tell me which books are moving well, always encouraging, always supportive, to the promise of cheese toasts and sweet and sour apple tea as a reward to self at the cafe, Kitab Khana and the Kala Ghodha Arts Fest brings much joy, year on year. I’m hoping to have another juicy book to tempt them into inviting me again next year. And while non-Mumbaikars need to wait till June for Razia and the Pesky...

To Squiggle with love

My kids took all of nine months. Squiggle was four years in the making. From sleepless nights with a fuzzy idea about what I wanted to write, to not quite knowing how. From sheafs of paper lying crumpled on the floor, to post-its that got shuffled around each day. From holding on to her, nervous about her first view, to Anita Roy at Zubaan Books writing back: “I LOVE SQUIGGLE. It made me giggle. Let’s do it! Exclamation mark!” From us knowing what she needs as her playground, to finding Vikram Nandwani, the fabulous illustrator who brought her to life. From draft after draft after draft while gazing at her adoringly (and often through gritted teeth) through all her teething troubles, to her blossoming into all her loveliness. From spending hours poring over her at the Zubaan office, to Niyati and all the other wonderful folks at Penguin joining the joyride and helping her zoom her way into this world. Squiggle, I love being your mommy! Go make the world a little more squiggly and punctuation friendly! To get commas in place and help children end their sentences, buy Squiggle Takes a Walk online here: Amazon, Flipkart Natasha Sharma is currently back to sleepless nights with a fuzzy idea for the next book with Squiggle. Share...

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 🙂 ‘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...
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 –...

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...