You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2013.

We’re all guilty of sometimes turning to the last page because we just must know how it ends. Yummy pakodas and sandwiches was how it ended for us at the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Mandir School. I still feel the satisfaction it brought to my empty tummy and so I wished to begin with that – satisfaction!

Which was also exactly what the session with Vidya Mani and Greystroke (aka Shyam Madhavan Sarada) was like. These are two people totally, crazily passionate about what they do. By the time we were riding home, I was converted and wanted to quit my job and become a member of their “we love it so we’ll just keep doing it” gang (They didn’t say that. I made it up because that’s how they made me feel).

In black and white - and grey

In black and white – and grey

Oh yes, the session (It’s their fault that I only want to talk about them)! If you haven’t got a copy of their book yet, go get it, right now! I only lament there was no such book while I was still in school. I’d not only have scored so much better but been a quiz whiz too. Always admired those who had all the knowledge at the tip of their fingers and tongue.

So yes, back to the session (if I manage not to be distracted again). There were 200+ schoolgirls aged between 8-10, settled nicely inside a very impressive auditorium and asked by the teachers to maintain silence. Then came Vidya and broke all the rules. It was supposed to be a fun session after all – the loud, boisterous types, the rules-begone types, not the Chinese Whisper types. And as the volume rose, the happiness quotient of the children rose resulting in Vidya and Greystroke wearing wider smiles and, not surprisingly, some very involved and happy teachers.

It was the Chhabis Quiz session. Chhabis = 26 = the number of alphabets in the Roman script = India from A to Z. What a fantastic concept. Vidya hammered out the questions, grandly projected on a screen. The students had to mark them on the ‘special chhabis word-finder grid. And the most incredible part of this incredible India quiz was that once all 26 were answered and marked/shaded on the grid, an image arose on the sheet of paper. The map of India! How clever is that!

I think I can safely say ALL the girls managed the quiz and ALL of them were raising their sheets excitedly for Vidya and Greystroke to take a look at the India they so proudly held high. Some earplugs would’ve come handy at this moment.

Then the master of strokes as Greystroke took the stage. Silence descended pretty quickly and pretty soon we had our jaws dropping. He was teaching the children how to make caricatures in 6 simple steps. Vidya was his subject and all through I was kicking myself for not standing closer to him as he picked his guinea pig. I wanted a caricature of myself from a real artist too! Although, I must admit, Vidya makes for a much better caricature.

But I wasn’t to leave the school with the caricature regret. With a bit of persistence (and some begging) I had Greystroke make me my caricature. The absolute best way to wrap up the session, me thought. Bookaroo in the City couldn’t get ‘funner’!

By Yirmiyan Arthur


For this session at the Mother’s International Schol on Aurobindo Marg, the author Ulf Nilsson was accompanied by Jonathan from the Swedish Embassy who was briefed to step in with useful facts about Sweden if Ulf had to take a break as he wasn’t feeling too well.

Squirrels Police Academy

Squirrels Police Academy

Fortunately, there was no problem. We received a very warm welcome and shown into the room where the children were already waiting. They were very eager and excited and so we started a little early.

Ulf began with plenty of stories from his detective books and about his life in Sweden. He told the children how he gets up every morning at 07.30, drinks a coffee, eats a square of chocolate, takes some snuff and then goes back to bed. The children were very amused by this and by his description with actions of how he must not go back to sleep.

In this comfy warm place he allows himself thinking time. He shared some ideas on where thoughts might begin, snippets of overheard conversation, news reports or anecdotes from friends, and how these can grow into stories during his thinking time. He demonstrated the importance of asking questions to develop the story by asking me to give some answers.

Ulf read from “Inspector Gordon, The First Case” and made the children laugh as thoughts popped into his head about the squirrels and how they might take over the school at night and how mice, who have a much better sense of smell than dogs, would make very good police helpers. The Mother’s International became The Squirrel Police Academy!

The session ended with some very keen questions from the children, a mobbing for autographs and thanks all round.

By Wendy Knight

At the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, the principal welcomed Vinamra with a bouquet of flowers. He started off with his own style of introduction and asked kids who has a passion to do something?

Never Give Up

Never Give Up

The children had various answers to give – Singer, Dancer, Scriptwriter, Painter. Even the Bookaroo in the City volunteer participated in that amazing session. Later, Vinamra told kids how to follow their passion, dreams and asked them that what sports taught?

The answers given by the students included Leadership, Teambuilding, Hardwork and to Never give up, which is highlighted in his book. The teachers too participated. Then he gave a brief description about his book and how Saina Nehwal wrote the foreword for it.

He told all about his journey, his passion and never giving up things with the sport as the cornerstone. He had a questionnaire prepared for students and correct answers got chocolates in reward – one child got his book signed. Later, the teachers, students, principal and Bookaroo thanked him for the session. A signed book was given to the school library.

By Sahil Kapoor

Wendy Cooling and I received the warmest traditional Indian welcome today at The Cambridge School, Indirapuram. The school was extraordinarily generous in hospitality and gifts and the teachers, principal and young students were delightful company.

A large turnout

A large turnout

Wendy was a little surprised to find that her expected audience of 150 students had swelled to 300 but took it all in her stride and with a little bit of quick thinking, adapted her talk to include them all.

Despite the large numbers and the need to use a microphone, Wendy captured her audience with amusing anecdotes from her schooldays and early reading life, including all the dreadful books she read as well as the wonderful ones. She went on to enthuse about the amazing worlds to be travelled through stories and books.

Wendy read a short story by Graham Greene with a grizzly theme and a puzzle at the end and then introduced Sherlock Holmes by donning a deerstalker hat and apologizing for not having a pipe.

She talked of detective and spy stories and how there is always a puzzle to solve and something to be saved. As a little light relief, volunteers were asked for to help solve the dilemma faced by the farmer who needed to cross a river with a fox, a goose and a bag of beans with only a small boat. There was great amusement as the volunteers became those three things and Wendy told the ‘goose’ he couldn’t give her the answer because geese can’t talk. Of course, the children quickly came up with the correct solution.

The session ended with Wendy reading an excerpt from Sherlock Holmes and leaving it on a cliffhanger to encourage the teenagers to read the book for themselves.

By Wendy Knight

What a lovely day it was. Today I went to Mother’s Global School, Preet Vihar, New Delhi with the author Parinita Shetty. She is a very nice person with a golden heart.

When we reached the school, we received a very warm welcome from the principal of the school Neeta Jethi and the school faculty. They treated us as if we are a part of their school. Before the session we have a little talk with the principal and she was very happy wishing us good luck for the session.

Then we went to the auditorium where the session would have take place and the kids were already seated there. A huge smile was seemed on their lovely faces when I told them the purpose of our visit.

Then the author started interacting with the children and she made them so much comfortable that they started asking questions about the monster in Parinita’s book. It seemed like that they all were big fans of monsters.

Decoding a Monster

Decoding a Monster

Then Parinita started reading the story for them and all the kids were so involved in the story that they didn’t even look at their teachers or their friends sitting next to them. That was a wonderful moment.

After the story session, the author asked the kids to draw their own monster and she dictated what a monster should look like – and that it should have three faces, four eyes and so many legs.

Once they finished, they all came to the author to show their masterpiece. Some of them brought money to buy Parinita’s book and got their copies signed.

By Rashmi Azad

Indu Harikumar is a young illustrator and storyteller. She has worked with popular children’s publications like Champak and Chandamama.  She also works with not-for-profit organizations working with children. Today, she had originally planned to create a ‘chidiya ghar’, but when she came to know that she was to address a class with differently-abled kids at Cozy Cot School in Dwarka, she decided to teach them to create pictures using simple hand impressions.



This particular school is private but functions out of a MCD school located in a lower middle class locality of Dwarka. It has children in the age group of 2-14 bunched in classrooms depending upon their abilities.

Considering that it is housed in a MCD building the school is clean and very colourful and has a decent-sized playground. The teacher-student ratio is good with at least two teachers to a class of about 10. They were interactive, very patient, smiling, engaged with their students and most of them have trained as a special educator. There was a general air of happy activity all around. The students come from lower, lower middle and also an orphanage. The school is doing a wonderful job there.

It was the first time that Indu was dealing with differently-abled children, so she decided to demonstrate how to create pictures through simple handprints. She showed the children the various images that she creates – bunny, peacock, dog and elephant. It was not easy to communicate with the kids but their teachers were so helpful while trying to assist each of them.

Some kids could somewhat comprehend what Indu was saying and were able to follow her instructions with their teacher’s guidance. They could also reproduce some of the illustrations – it was quite commendable. The teachers were warm, welcoming and very involved through out the session.

Ah! What a lovely day it was. When I heard about this school, a few days before we went, I didn’t have any idea that I would meet such brilliant kids. But being at the British School with Anushka was a revelation.

The moment we entered the school premises, we were escorted by their teacher to the junior wing, were the session was to be held. Everyone loves to hear about monsters and the children at British School were no exception.

Anushka started the ball rolling by asking them questions like: “how does a monster look like according to them?” and “has anybody ever seen a monster”? Surprisingly they came up with such a great ideas like “it look like a spider with so many arms” another said “miss I have seen a monster once in a river and my mum told me that it’s a river monster”

Anushka began reading the story of a monster who was under the bed of Moin (the story’s hero). It’s a story about a boy named Moin who once heard some kind of a noise coming under his bed. We will not reveal the story here – you must buy the book and read it. The children sung “Monster’s song” along with the author in their melodious voices. Once the story ended the author asked them to draw their own monster.

By Rashmi Azad

Parinita started to bond with the German School’s children with an interesting conversation. She wore a cap and said that she wore it whenever she felt scared of monsters.

Monster mania

Monster mania

The kids loved her style. She started talking about monsters and asked kids about what they thought of monsters. The children had some funny answers to give.

Later she started off with her storybook, The Monster Hunters. She narrated the whole story and kids had many interesting questions to put up. After finishing the story she asked the audience to make their own recipe for monster.

The children were asked to make a monster with three heads, four eyes, three ears, a nose, a huge stomach, six legs and a tail. The young participants really enjoyed making the monster. They had a huge laugh on their own monsters.

Later, both the children and their teachers thanked the author for her great session.

By Sahil Kapoor

The children and staff of Nigram Pratibha Vidyalaya gave us a wonderful welcome for the session with Tony de Saulles, the fabulous illustrator of The Horrible Science series.

Tony began by showing his book, “How To Draw Horrible Science”, which he later signed and gave to the school. He began with a small curved line and then invited the children to join in, copying each addition to the drawing.

Not-so-horrible science

Not-so-horrible science

Soon the children were excitedly calling out as they realised what was appearing. It was a sad snail. The mouth was turned down and tears were sprouting from the eyes. But why?

We soon found out as a last detail was added… the snail was on a fork and was about to be eaten. Further pictures of fish eating smaller fish and being eaten by bigger fish and a crocodile with a hand limply hanging from its mouth were eagerly reproduced by the children and some of the finished drawings were very good indeed.

Tony finished with a step-by-step self-portrait and invited the children to draw him too. By this time the children were really confident and produced amazing portraits. Tony kindly gave his finished pictures to the school and there were enthusiastic thanks all round.

By Wendy Knight

This was an excellent event with back-to-back sessions at Salwan Public School, Rajinder Nagar. The children were very energetic, responsive and interactive as well.

Bina Kapoor began by telling everybody about thinking of the end they would like to give to their own stories. They were asked to think of a prank and plot for their story. The new thoughts the children had, after the session was that they could write a story thinking of the end first.

When asked how much they enjoyed the session, the students dished out 10 on 10 marks without a thought. Bina also told students about her series of books and how one should be proud and satisfied of being whoever they are.

Some innocent students found it difficult to think of pranks to play but later on, were the ones who enjoyed it the most. The students in the second session realised the importance of the villain to make a story. According to them, the villain is more important even than the hero himself. They learned new way of thinking and making a story.

Our welcome was very good and the aura of the school was perfect. The teachers who welcomed us were with us throughout the session. Everything was really perfect. Thanks especially Ms. Nancy and Ms. Harshlata of Salwan Public School.

 By Surbhi Gupta

Follow me on Twitter