What happens when an author visits the setting of her book, Fatehpur Sikri

What happens when an author visits the setting of her book, Fatehpur Sikri

In a recent visit with family to Fatehpur Sikri, our excellent guide was rather befuddled by an over-excited woman, screeching with joy when she saw the Durbar hall, the Anup Talab, Akbar’s bed and the Buland Darwaza. “Yes, yes madam. Would you like a photograph? There as well? And there? And here again? Yes, it is all quite exciting.” As we entered the first garden and space where Akbar would hold his durbar, the guide pointed to a plain, flat platform raised two feet off the ground, against the backdrop of a columned corridor. “That’s where the king and Prince Salim were weighed on their birthday against gold, silver and other items.” “AAAAAHHH!” screeched the woman, madly flipping through a yellow-covered book with a gilded title, Akbar and the Tricky Traitor, to an image of Akbar being weighed against the very items mentioned, beautifully detailed by the illustrator of the book, Vandana Bist. Whipping out trusty phone, she stretched her arm out with book, framing the scene with the platform in the backdrop, and clicked. “And over there is the Darbar-i-Aam where the king held court…” “EEEEHHHH!” yelled the woman, flipping to another page in the book in which Akbar stands holding court while searching for his Super Six amidst the lot. Hand outstretched… click! “That was Akbar’s gigantic bed…” “OOOOH!” Flip flip flip… click! The ten-year-old and the eight-year-old offspring of the woman were soon influenced by the fervor of discovering new facts about the place and of photographing every nook and cranny of Fatehpur Sikri that echoed in the book, having read it multiple times themselves. “What’s...

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...
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...
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...

The Reading Raccoons on Ashoka and the Muddled Messages

Review time! ” History is not easily lapped up by kids. My younger one, at least, tries to avoid all references to the subject. So, when he picked up a book from Natasha Sharma‘s History Mystery series, I was pleasantly surprised. Two books from the series are out, and we have read Ashoka and the Muddled messages. The plot is hilarious with the king’s edicts ending up muddled every time he sends them out to his kingdom. When he asks everyone to turn vegetarian, his edict gets muddled, and ends up inscribed on stone, encouraging people to make animal sacrifices! So who is muddling up the messages, and creating utter chaos across the kingdom?  The Agramatya’s beard, that he colours in the most outrageous shades, the Tremendous Ten and their antics, the queen’s tantrums – all make the whodunnit fairly interesting. What we absolutely loved about the book was the brief, simple facts about the king given at the back , a page in the end for ‘My hysterical History notes,’ and the absolutely lovely illustrations by Tanvi Bhat.  Must read for the younger raccoons. In fact my ten year old also enjoyed it, so it is definitely not limited to that age group.” – Tanu Shree Singh on The Reading Raccoons Available in bookstores and online retailers including Amazon  flipkart  infibeam Share...