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Bookaroo opened on 26th November with the school’s day events taking place on abright sunny Friday. As I entered through the gates of IGNCA, I was greeted withwarm smiles at the reception desk and a large banner that depicted a rather cheekymonkey clamoring on top of “BOOKAROO”. IGNCA is a large area spread out overexpanses of green, bordered generously with trees…A warm breeze, tinged by a slightchill that merely lent a faint blush fluttered around rustling up the grass.
In a few minutes I was surrounded by the hustle and bustle of children laughing,squealing with delight, jumping all around me, ecstatic and dazzled. Why dazzled?Bookaroo allowed their spirits to soar, what with activities, events, talks, performances;you-name-it! Eureka, a children’s bookstore located in Alaknanda had also opened shopat IGNCA, so children could not only buy their favourite books, but also get them signedby their favorite authors! What made the entire experience thoroughly enjoyable was also the fact that it was easy and effortless. Maps of the entire area, properly markedand named, were available, so one would have no problem hopping from one placeto another, attending events of their choice. Had it not been for the schedules and thesignboards that were put up almost everywhere, the scatter-brain in me would have mostcertainly gotten lost! When the hopping around got to you, hunger gnawed at your verycore and your tummy rumbled complaints, you could hop over to a lovely clearing set upwith tables and chairs and stalls of food. An inherent glutton, the momos and soft drinksand sandwiches and chocolate bars and pizzas set me sighing till a friend rapped me onthe head rudely and awoke me from my food-fantasy. How perfectly nasty of him!
The first day, that is, the school’s day saw 12 events taking place, 6 at a time. WendyOrr, author of “The Nim’s Island Journey” talked to children under the Kahani Tree, alarge tree with countless branches that looked like one of those ancient, wise old treesthat smiled down at you like a crinkly-eyed grandmother. As soon as I saw it, I felt as ifit turned to me and said something like- “Come, my child. Come sit under my branchesas I sway them to call the wind. Listen to stories that my bark has grown old on.” It’s agood thing I know I’m rather strange, have limitless imagination and am rather fond ofgrandmothers. I’m quite sure you’d have scampered off! xD
To come back to the event…the children were so engrossed in the event that duringquestion-answer time, hands shot up in seconds and stayed up for minutes till they wereacknowledged! The sensitivity of the children was admirable. They asked extremelythoughtful questions, considering that they were aged between 8-10! While one little boyasked Miss Orr when and why she started writing, another one asked her what inspirationmeant to her. There were so many hands that in the end, Miss Orr decided to close hereyes and pick a hand. The little girl her hand picked asked her, “Is there any book thatrelates most to your real life?Miss Orr closed her eyes for a few seconds, opened them, took a deep breath andsaid, “One about a car accident, yes…”Children are generally restless and fidgety. I know I was quite a hyper child and Iknow what it takes to captivate a child and hold his/her attention for an hour. Miss Orrpossesses in abundance the noble virtue that is patience. She heard each child. In fact,she let them do most of the talking! Like a wise man once said, “Knowledge speaks, but
wisdom listens…”Ishwarya Subbiah, a volunteer said-“To say that the kids are hyper would be an understatement of sorts, but it is very excitingto see them speak so confidently!”When Jeeva Raghunath took to the mike and called out to the children- Storyyyy, itsstorytiiime, it was a sight to watch! As she sang out her story-time call, children fromevery direction ran, no they almost flew to occupy the seats! It was as if her voice drewthem to her; even the adults couldn’t stay behind, they joined their children, and soon,there was a huge circle that sat and stood around her. As she started telling the crowda well-known folk story from Bengal, their eyes sparkled with curiosity and delight,as her trained voice washed over them in waves. Her confidence was overpowering.She danced, jumped, shouted, laughed, mimicked, wailed, all with effortless ease andsurety! You couldn’t possibly not join in the fun. I’ve always found it difficult to singand dance in a crowd and move my hands around wildly. But within a few minutes intoher performance, I was singing, “Ta na ne na ne na ne naaaaaa” at top volume without acare! She had simply coerced us all into joining her; we needed no extra encouragement.The children had a brilliant time! I know because I did! She did it all. Her voice is aninstrument she has mastered, for we heard the door creaking, the little girl laughing,slurping, lapping, licking and more!It is the kind of experience that stays with you, that you probably think of later and laugh,remembering the joy that coursed through your being when you lived it.


Bookaroo Schools Day – Nov 26, 2010

British School students of years 5, 6, 7 went to Bookaroo today (Friday, 26/11/2010), where they attended two sessions. 

The first session was with Francois Roca, a noted French illustrator.  Their session with Roca was truly illuminating, as they learnt how colours, lighting and perspective shape illustrations.  A pearl of wisdom he shared with the students was that while Google is a really useful too, it is not good enough as much of the information that one gets is mere repetition.  By using Google to search for information, according to him, everyone would end up with the same answers.  In his opinion, nothing can replace the experience of going to a bookshop or to a library.

The second session was a fun filled with one Roopa Pai.  Our students were engaged in fun activities and games all centered around her series of books.

In between the students visited the bookshop—where they were able to buy books.  A lucky few got their fresh copies by Horowtiz signed by the author. 

A real hit with the students was the Doodle Wall where they were able to try out their calligraphy.

The trip culminated in a visit to the exhibition of book illustrations where the students were delighted to see their own art teacher’s (Sujata Singh) work on display.

The visit was a success: how could it not be, with books, writers, illustrations, games and a sunny day spent outdoors!

Deepika Andley

Bookaroo in the City – November 24, 2010

On 24th Nov, star storyteller Anupa Lal and I set off towards Haryana with the confidence born of being frequent Gurgaon travellers and BIC veterans. We were headed towards Baas Educational Trust School in Gairatpur Baas village near Tikli. By the time we had discovered every back alley in the underbelly of gold rush Gurgaon, we grew silent until we glimpsed our first mustard field of the season!

Baas Educational Trust is a beautiful, green school in the middle of lush fields ringed by low hills. It has the most charming blue sweatered, gap toothed children who love to reply to simple questions with full sentences such as My name is Sanjana. I am nine years old.
As the rainy breeze blew in from the big windows, Anupa told them funny and deep stories. As her strong voice rose and fell and her    hands gestured, they all responded as one person.Their faces spoke before they did and by the end of a magical hour, they looked satiated with happiness. A film about the school was being shot on location and the session was captured on camera as well.
The long and winding road led us to a wonderful place for a BIC event and we are happy that the ripples of Bookaroo are getting wider..

Manisha Chaudhry

Bookaroo in the City – November 18, 2010

One doesn’t particularly mind difficult tasks if they bring joy and lessons worth learning…

I suppose that is why I didn’t mind waking up to the harsh slap of the wind and the taste of a chilling winter morning for my very first event with Bookaroo and Pratham Books. As I walked out into the open, the biting wind seemed to shatter against my skin; I could feel my hands gradually becoming numb… And yet, I welcomed it all, for my skin tingled more with excitement and fervour than because of the morning air.

I was to accompany Anupa Lal, a well known writer and story-teller to Swami Sivanand Institute, a government school located in Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi. 
The taxi wandered around for a bit, we kept looking for “Western Avenue” in “East Punjabi Bagh.” A comedy of errors, to put it shortly. I didn’t mind, for my conversation with Anupaji lengthened and spanned from children to nature to what constitutes simple pleasures in life. 
It’s wonderful how children, just about anywhere, manage to light up their surroundings. And if you happen to be part of it, you cannot help but feel their enthusiasm and thrill. Its a feeling that bursts out of your skin and erupts in little spots of sunshine in the open. That is exactly what I thought of when I saw the children gathered and assembled in the hall at Swami Sivanand Institute. As Anupaji began telling her stories, I stood there and felt as if I was a part of the children. Like them, I was entranced by the changing frequency of her voice. When her voice hit a high pitch to convey surprise or outrage, I found that just like the children, my eyes widened in response. It was a delight to see all their eyes sparkling, their heads raised, eager to devour the stories, their minds flying with dreams scattered on their little wings. When Anupaji asked them if they’d like her to go on, a state of frenzy overcame the children! Finally, she was able to leave, with promises of returning soon. I couldn’t help grinning when I saw the little ones wave at her and thank her for entertaining them. 
She didn’t throw any morals at them. I think that is why they loved her. But there were hidden lessons for those who know how to look for them. 
I’m still thinking about the magician and the Stupid King’s wise Minister and the ghost who lived in a tower…
 
Sudarshana Chanda

Bookaroo in the City – November 22, 2010


I had a lovely visit today to Pathways School. Everyone made me feel very welcome, and the children responded with enthusiasm to my questions. They impressed me with their various ambitions, ranging from writer, which of course I approved of, through artist, pilot, and astronaut. One person even harbours the ambition to become the President of India one day. Well someone has to do the job, why not him? Full marks to the friendly and ambitious children of the Pathways School. Thank you all, teachers and pupils, for making my visit so enjoyable.

By: Cindy Jefferies

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Hi!

This is Cindy Jefferies, blogging from Jo Williams house in Delhi. I am so excited to be in India for the very first time, and was very interested to attend one of the Bookaroo meetings. We were at the venue to see all the places to hold events, and I was particularly pleased to see where I would be giving my talk…Why Fame School?

I will also be involved with one of the craft activities, and the spot the committee has chosen for that is excellent. I’m looking forward to seeing you all at Bookaroo, so if I don’t say hello please do come and introduce yourself. I’ll be pleased to meet you!

By: Cindy Jefferies

Bookaroo In the City – November 17
Bookaroo in the city 2010 is reaching the most inaccessible learners. On day 2 of BIC 2010, it made its way to a school of just 65 children between three to four years who have their classes in a partitioned room of a medical centre. It was a school run by the Delhi Common Wealth Women’s Association in Zamrudpur and the group of children who had assembled there were waiting for the big event—Story Telling. The Story teller was Valentina Trivedi who is passionate about story telling and who conducts theatre workshops for children. Valentina is a gifted story teller who can modulate her voice to become a growly bear or a whining wolf. Infact,  her adroitness in making various noises kept the children riveted to her story telling. Children squealed with laughter through out the session. Valentina chose two books from Pratham Books to tell her stories.

The beautiful illustrations were a great add on to her  wonderful narration. She told the story of a girl who does not like the food in her lunch box but after meeting the ant, the butterfly, the crow and the others, she has a change of heart and heartily eats her food. The second story was of Yakkitty Yak who was a talkative juvenile yak who gets separated from his parents and is reunited with them after his friends like the cloud and the sun join forces to help him. The young children amazed everyone with their confident replies and regaled us with their rambunctious laughter. It was a wonderful session with a wonderful story teller.

Indira Ganesh

Click on the links below to see some of the other Bookaroo in the City posts

Bookaroo in the City – November 16
A morning spent with young children-restless, eager, inquisitive, noisy, quiet, outgoing, reserved……………but UNIFORMLY ADORABLE!!!!! Thank you Pratham Books!!!!

Swagata Sen Pillai

Bookaroo in the City – Nov 16
It was a balmy morning when some 300 enthusiastic nine and ten year olds gathered in the auditorium of their school at the Gujarati Samaj Senior Secondary School in Civil lines, Delhi. There was a perceptible anticipation in the air. They had been told by their teachers that today, there would be a story telling session in Gujarati. for them. This story telling session was part of the event Bookaroo In the City which is being conducted by Pratham Books in over 25 schools all over the NCR. This particular session was special on two accounts. First and foremost it was being done by none other than Shanta T. Patel who is a name to reckon with in the field of Gujarati translation of popular children’s books. Shantaji is a Septuagenarian who has dedicated her life to the field of education. She brought the warmth of a grandmother spinning a tale in the mother tongue for the eager grandchildren.

The session was also special as it was being conducted in Gujarati, a compulsory language for every child in the primary classes in the Gujarati samaj school. The children were familiar with Pratham books as their school library has a lot of books published by them and the books were quite popular among the children. The children were curious to find out as to which stories would be chosen by the story teller. Shanta Ben chose two books to read from. One was- Mithani Chatpati Varta-A pinch of salt and the second one was Varta nu Shahar-City of stories. Before anyone knew it, one hour was over and Shanta Ben summarized the stories in Hindi for the non Gujarati students. The teachers and students felicitated Shanta Ben and gave her a warm farewell. Good Stories are rare and good story tellers are rarer still. The story telling session in gujarati during bookaroo in the city held its ground in this age of technology aided stimulation for the young minds.

By: Indira Ganesh