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Bookaroo is on the move! The Bookaroo Trust and a team of over twenty writers, illustrators, crafts-masters and a singer took the Bookaroo Festival of Children’s Literature to Kashmir. For a two day blow out that made books exciting and fun for children.

During the festival a team of energetic young bloggers, all belonging to the Delhi Public School covered the festival and in the following posts you can hear what they had to say

Jeeva Raghunath & Arjun Kaul

It is 10:00 in the morning and I’m standing in the Atrium. A crowd of kids are pouring into this venue. There are students all around. Some sitting and some standing and then a guitarist (Arjun) playing a beautiful tune catches my eye. Jeeva was standing beside him and she caught everybody’s attention by making very funny sounds which got the crowd very excited. Jeeva who started with a story of a lion and children all around followed her to a lion hunt. Her actions caught everyone’s eyes and even the teachers standing there enjoyed the session. She ended the session with a rhyme in Tamil. I can say that the BOOKAROO event started with a bang!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~~~ Fatima & Maroof. Class 9

Atanu Roy, Anushka Ravishankar, Sandhya Rao & Swati Roy

I and Mujtaba are seated in a wood paneled room with carpeted floor, waiting for the event to start. The four experts have come and the event is about to start. Later they are discussing all the matters relating to the writing of a book, from its typing to its publication and advertisement. I saw that there were small kids who didn’t understand what this was all about, but Mrs. Ahmad was forcing the children to sit there. All in all it was a very informative session for budding writers.

~~~ Syed Maroof & Mujtaba. Class 9

Ramendra Kumar

It’s my first event of the second day of Bookaroo. Fatima & I are ready to pen down today’s action. Ramendra has come with his wife. He looks a happy and a joyous man. He started the session by saying, “Aap Urdu me sun na chahen ge ya English me.” Ramendra told the audience the story of a ghost named Paploo Chattan. I can see the Mallinson girls coming with their parents. Ramendra also gave children some magic words which can make them as big as a giant but at the end said it only works only on 30th February!

~~~ Syed Maroof & Fatima Amber. 9th

Sandhya Rao

After the fabulous performance of Mr. Ramendra, I and Fatima are ready to note down everything in Picture Gandhi. Sandhya Rao takes the mike and starts the program with “’Lage raho Munna Bhai kis kis ne dekhi hai”, and then she starts saying many facts about Gandhi that we can’t see in books. I can see small kids watching the program with great interest. She told us about the different caps worn by him, his marriage, his tour to different countries and about Anna Hazare (modern Gandhi).

~~~ Syed Maroof & Fatima Amber. Class 9

Ranapratap Sengar & Usmaan Sheikh

After the fantastic performances by Jeeva and Arjun, we were all ready for the magic carpet to fly and tell us stories. I was standing in a corner having the whole view of the Atrium which was filled with student in the age group of 7 to 15 years. My eyes were looking here and there and suddenly two men in kurta pyjamas were sitting on a divan. The two men were the dastangoes Ranapratap Sengar and Usman Sheikh. They started with briefing us with the tradition of Dastangoi and then at around twelve they started durbar. Most of the students who were sitting at back began to lose interest in them. Many wanted it to be conducted with musical effects. I felt that the Dastangoes had to make it more interesting for the students, so that they could make the most of it and enjoy themselves.

~~~ Fatima & Maroof. Class 9

At Delhi Public School

At the school we entered through a driveway lined by tulips and it was a welcome with flowers. Then walking through the playing fields I thought, this was the place to hold a Bookaroo festival. Bookaroo needs wide open spaces where kids can run free, auditoriums where storytellers can weave their magic and intimate spaces where kids can draw, colour, fold paper and mess around with glue. Then we met a roomful of bright eyed volunteers and bloggers and we were ready to go!

HELLOOO KASHMIR!

First a circle of mountains, a majestic steel grey against a pale blue sky, with streaks of snow like a celestial icing on a cake. Then as the plane dipped over the valley, a picturesque zigzag of emerald paddy fields, interspersed with lines of tall poplars and the sloping roofs of houses gleaming in the sun.

It took my breath away. I was here, at a place I had dreamed of visiting and I felt like hanging out of the aircraft window and yelling, “Hellooo Kashmir!”

Whatever happened… rain, board exams, a sneezing fit… I wasn’t going to miss Jeeva Raghunath and her fabulous stories. I just had to go on a lion hunt with her again. So 10.30 sharp, at the Atrium, the hall and balconies were buzzing with junior school kids. Then Jeeva strutted up to do her stuff, making them shout and sing, sway and wave. And who was that behind her playing weird riffs on his guitar? It was the long haired lead singer of the band Prithvi, Arjun Kaul.

At my Mughal Magic session at the Workshop I told stories about Mughals to class five; all about Jahangir and the Shalimar Gardens, the Taj Mahal and the Kohinoor, biryani and kababs. Then the kids plotted how to escape from a Mughal fortress and somehow, don’t ask me how, a vampire got into the act. Actually, he wasn’t really a scary bloodsucker because somehow his trousers fell off!

Next I had a problem. There were 7 venues with 28 events. Oooof! What do I do? How do I cover everything? Then help was here! My merry band of bloggers out there, watching and listening, scribbling and snapping… led by the Super Blogger herself – Madeeha Ma’am!

To the Doodle Wall next where Bulbul Sharma, Atanu Roy and Tapas Guha had hundreds of kids sketching and colouring as the volunteers sat furiously sharpening a mountain of pencils. At the Crafty Corner, Sachin Sebastian had kids folding and cutting paper to make them pop up and turn into flowers and birds like magic! Then I zipped into the Stadium where the audience was mesmerised by the play ‘Asi Te Karave Eid’ with school kids as actors.

At the Atrium Arjun was tuning his guitar in his usual Goth look, all in black, eyes hidden behind dark, sinister shades. He started with his head banging stuff and then suddenly broke into a Kashmiri ballad and brought the house down. This dude was cool but I have to admit the school band and their lead singers stole the show! They had everyone rocking to their tunes, singing and dancing along. I never knew Muhammad Rafi’s ‘Badan pe sitare’ could sound so fabulous to drum beats and a moaning guitar. An hour later as I tottered away, the Atrium was still at jamming mode, with lots of yelling and defiant fists in the air. Way to go guys!

On Sunday the kids came with their parents and so it was a bit quieter. And I decided to float from venue to venue getting a taste of all that was happening. Valentina Trivedi’s hand puppets had kids giggling and Ramendra Kumar’s Paploo was winning new friends. Sandhya Rao at the Doodle Wall had everyone’s thumbs turn into the colours of the rainbow and the Campfire Team had kids drawing comics. Meanwhile there were Jerry Pinto and Prayag Shukla rhyming away.

If Deepa Agarwal’s Lippo the hippo went to a birthday party, Anushka Ravishankar’s fishy tale got fishy, stinky and such fun. Pratap Pandey had word games, Suraya Rasool a smart sparrow and Parnab Mukherjee went to the post office. After a while my head was buzzing so hard I had to sit down and have an ice cream. Bookaroo can have this dizzy effect some time.

Then late at night the two Dastangoi, Ranapratap Sengar and Usmaan Sheikh, had a surprise for the Bookaroo Team. A special show of the adventures of Amir Hamza and we all laughed so much all our tiredness fled away.

To Shafaq and Shazia, Samaira and Poonam, Mrs Kiran and Mr. Vijay Dhar, Mrs & Mr Sharma and Mrs. Ahmed who spoilt us completely. Then who can forget the volunteers, teachers and students of the school for being so smart and energetic. Also Kuldeep and Gullu who solved every complicated problem. And finally a bow to Mr. Cool, Jahangir Sir who made it all run smooth as clockwork. We couldn’t have done it without you all. Thank you!

Subhadra