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Day Two – 9 August 2015

Pustaka Bookaroo’s first workshop on Sunday promised mythical sounds, and it did not disappoint. The Beez Buskers, a group of 6 students and one teacher from Trust Schools SK Tabuan and SMK Seri Setia wrote and performed a story combining the well-known story about Santubong, the mountain just behind the Malay House and the traditions of Hari Raya.

Beez Buskers

Beez Buskers

Narration was in both Malay and English so that members of the audience both locals and tourists were able to understand, although the acting was so good that it was easy to follow the plot! Interspersed with traditional songs and dances accompanied by traditional instruments everyone was carried along in the boat with the princesses and at the end joined in the dancing. Special mention has to be made of the young boatman who kept rowing throughout the whole performance, only taking a break to join in the dances. A truly mythical delight.

Ceres Lau, designer and self-confessed paper addict was back for the next Pustaka Bookaroo workshop to weave her paper magic and create mask mania. After telling a short story about Iban warriors and their head-dresses Ceres showed some examples of masks and gave some ideas to the children who were then free to create their own Iban warrior mask.

The Finale

The Finale

Heads down, apart from the rustling of paper not a sound was to be heard as the snipping and gluing began. Eye-rings, eyelashes, noses and feathers galore began to take shape – one mum was to be seen quietly but very determinedly cutting about 20 feathers, not for her son, but for herself! Racing against time the finishing touches were added and suddenly the room was filled with Iban warriors uttering piercing war cries – loud enough to compete with the crashing thunder.

In the final Pustaka Bookaroo workshop Grace Jie Jie, a lecturer by profession, a storyteller by passion, told an ancient Chinese tale about the Emperor’s visit to the land of the Moon. Grace welcomed Amanda Wolkin and Rebecca Ierardo, our transplants from the USA, back to help create the rainbow skirts and feather coats which had been worn by the dancers on the Moon – from newspapers!

Feverish activity ensued as patterns were designed, papers folded pleated and cut, flowers, hearts, stripes drawn on the paper. Much tape was used to hold everything together as crowns, traditional Bidayuh hats, bangles, capes, belts, bangles, brooches, dresses and skirts were donned ready to follow Grace in flight swooping round the room to the Purple Cloud Melody.

By Jo Williams




Day One – 8 August 2015

Pustaka Bookaroo in the City was honoured to have sape maestro Matthew Ngau (two days ago, it was announced that Mathew has been proclaimed a national heritage by the Malaysian Tourism and Culture Ministry. Also known as “Sape Master”, he is among five living legends who received similar recognition) to open its workshops in the Malay House at The Rainforest World Music Festival 2015, accompanied by his nephew Saloman Gau and narrator Connie Lim.

A mixed audience of over 40 listened as Connie explained the origins of the sape whilst Matthew and Saloman played a selection of traditional songs, ranging from the lilting wake-up tune played at around 4am in the longhouse to the lively dances held on the verandah. They certainly woke everyone up with the war cry at the end of one piece!

Day of the Sape

Of Rain Stick, Sape and Songs

Matthew explained that in the longhouse a sape player has to be ready to play any and every request, and if he cannot, no matter how famous he may be, his standing is lost – it has happened even to him! He ended with the story of how on a visit to America he was asked to play for rain in a drought stricken area, within a couple of hours the sape had woven its magic and rain began to fall. We could understand that as we had all fallen under the spell of the sape.

In Pustaka Bookaroo’s second workshop Ceres Lau, a designer and self-confessed paper addict showed children – and their parents! – how to make magical pop-ups with just a fold here and a cut there. The children quickly picked up the techniques so much so that they had to assist some of the grow-ups who were finding the reverse folds a little tricky.

After a little more cutting to make eyes there were some very s-c-a-r-y pop-up monsters, which strangely were mainly blue. Ceres then demonstrated how to change the pop-up radically simply by cutting in a semi-circle rather than a zig-zag. This proved a little more demanding for all but created some weird and wonderful creatures – one in particular came with its own unearthly sound as it popped up! We ran out of time at this juncture….

Pustaka Bookaroo’s final workshop of the day was led by Amanda Wolkin and Rebecca Ierardo, transplants from the USA, teachers, storytellers, and most importantly cheese lovers. Their mission was to make the Rainforest rumble and they did!

Matthew Ngau

Matthew Ngau

Ceres Lau shows off her creation. The children followed suit

Ceres Lau shows off her creation. The children followed suit

They started with a lively dramatic reading about the first rain-stick after which they helped the children to create their own rain-sticks. Each had its own unique design – tribal motifs, flowers, animals, even a rainbow complete with raindrops and lightning.

Once filled, The Malay House echoed with the sound of falling rain as Melinda Siew read a Malay poem about rain. At the end of the workshop there was just time for everyone to rush to open the Drum Circle with the Rain-Stick Rainforest Rumble. (We may have been too successful as on Sunday down came the rain!!Oops!)

By Jo Williams

Golda Mowe time travelled to SMK Muara Tuang, Kuching, Sarawak again with over 60 students in Form 3 captivating the students on the wonders of science and technology.  She weaved the incredible journey of the probe to Pluto to her latest short story ‘Nanobots’ and threw in some aliens in the mix to give it the Sarawakian twist.

Golda signs her books

Golda signs her books

She had the students spellbound with the story based on history, science, and technology.  She even unravelled the mystery of the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ at the end of her session in the Q&A.

By Richard Lee

Golda Mowe teleported herself back to SMK Seri Setia, Kuching, Sarawak to talk about the wonders of space, time, and technology.  She shared her latest science short story titled ‘Nanobots’ to over 60 students in Form 2 by taking them on a journey of adventure, aliens, and nanobots in 1 hour.

The session at Seri Setia is about to begin

The session at Seri Setia is about to begin

She ended her session in true scientist style by answering questions from the weird to the mysterious all with humour and wit the Sarawakian way.  She definitely left some science stardust for budding authors.

By Richard Lee

Another fantastic day with Meetali Khanna with another lovely audience. Bookaroo in the City’s second successive event with Meetali took place at Savera, a NGO based in Delhi, which provides a holistic package in the form of education, healthcare, and nutrition to children belonging to the economically weaker sections.

"I have a query"

“I have a query”

The children who had gathered for this session were in the age group of 6-10. The author chose three stories which centered on the themes of a birthday party, a visit to the zoo and one’s first day at school. To make it more accessible to the children, she summarized the tales in Hindi.

The kids really enjoyed the stories and participated in the question-answer session with a lot of excitement. However, many were shy to share their experiences and express curiosity about the author’s work. One of the kids surprised us all by asking Meetali who “her role model was’.

Meetali revealed that it was her growing up years with Enid Blyton’s work that had eventually inspired her to pen down her thoughts and experiences on paper.

Overall, it was a rewarding experience for both the author and children whereby everyday events took form of a live storytelling session.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Dubai-based author, Meetali Khanna had an everyday element embedded in her stories. Her main protagonist in most of her stories is loosely based on her niece Yana.

Through her audio-visual narration, the author brought out certain serious concerns that are hardly addressed in an appropriate manner. She had the story running on the projector while narrating the same.


Right and wrong

Her first story was about bullying and its repercussions. The author’s story about a visit to the zoo had a message about caring and protecting endangered species. Then there were issues like coping with one’s first day at school, making new friends and learning to deal with problems.

Children particularly enjoyed the story about Yana’s poolside birthday party. There was delicious food; water sports competitions and fun times with friends. There, one of the characters, who did not how to swim, jumped into the water. He was eventually rescued. Here too, Meetali talked about the need to assess one’s abilities before giving in to peer pressure.


A satisfying session

The stories were followed by an interactive question-and-answer round. Children had many questions about what inspires Meetali to write, her favourite work so far, which stories are longer to conceive and so on. Children also had responses to every situation they were exposed to through the stories.

They said that the bullies are best ignored. However, if they become intolerable, the authorities in school and parents should be informed. Children reminisced about their own visits to the zoo, Yana’s first day at school left a different impression more so because each one had their own experience to reflect about. Finally, the birthday party story got everyone excited.

The best part was that the children were really interested in the session and were not at all inhibited when it the time came to interact in a group publicly. They participated whole-heartedly.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Valentina Trivedi chose two very relatable themes for the storytelling session. She also surprised the little ones with her approach to everyday situations.

The first story was about a lion who learnt to overcome continuous hiccoughs by following the hyena’s advice to laugh through the situation. The next story was about how children are always unhappy with their lunchboxes almost every day. The story revealed that despite one’s apathy towards routine homemade foods, one finds other varieties of foods stranger.


Animal Antics

The girl in Valentina’s story was quite upset, for instance, to discover food options such as cockroach wings from ants, nectar from butterflies and grass from cows. She happily went back to her lunchbox after these strange encounters.

The story transported them to a moment whereby the other food alternatives stopped appealing to them and love for their own lunchboxes became more assertive.

Valentina’s gestures and occasional imitation of the animals really enlivened the mood of the children, who were happy to describe what food they usually bring to school and what aspects make it uninteresting.

The session was a perfect way to begin the Book Week at Springdales School and yet another splendid Bookaroo in the City (BIC) episode.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

When Rituparna Ghosh visited Sarahana, a Centre for children with special needs at Panchsheel Enclave, New Delhi, the kids waited patiently to learn about the world they would soon be a part of.

Rituparna used her expressive face, puppets and a mix of sounds that included laughter, squeals and growls to draw the children into storyland. To keep it as interactive as possible, each story was followed by a chat and questions to gauge the involvement of the children.

WP_20150514_002[1]Using puppets, Rituparna’s first story was about a friendly dragon named Tilli who could blow fire and fly. Unlike other dragons, Tilli was a helpful creature. The story was all about how Tilli helped her friends in trouble.

The children were quite taken by the puppets as they came to life under Rituparna’s hand. Each of them got a chance to play with Tilli the dragon and try to make her fly and growl. The second story was about Mini, a 6-year-old happy-go lucky girl who liked pretty things like her mother’s perfume, polka dot imprint long skirts, rains and pizzas.

Mini was smitten by colours and paint but was deprived of an important sensation, that of sight. The delightful story was about how she conquered her shortcoming. Mini’s mother had a wonderful solution. She made Mini taste colours! For instance, tomato was tangy. Hence, the colour red would always be tangy for Mini. Then she was given Tulsi. Mini found it soothing and a little bitter and green was no longer an unthinkable colour. Creamy, filling milk was white.

Each colour, pointed out Mini’s mother, depicts certain impressions but those impressions vary with experiences and moments. Emotions have a lot of impact on colors her mother explained.

After the second story, the kids were given sheets of paper with emoticons (happy, sad, upset, angry, etc.) and they were asked to colour it with the pastel shades that they thought would fit in well with the moods. The exercise was a great success. Some of the parents joined the session as well. The kids could relate to the constant phases of enthusiasm and excitement alongside the narrative.


By Sebanti Chatterjee

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