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Jacqueline Yu, aka DaYu Mama from IKA Picture Story House, started the session by teaching the children a song with actions. In no time at all the children had picked up both the movement and the song so that the room was filled with waggling fingers and happy voices.

DaYu Mama's day out

DaYu Mama’s day out

After this lively opening the children settled down to listen as DaYu Mama recounted an amusing tale about a very angry dinosaur who caused havoc by breathing fire from his mouth and nose. The children were in fits of laughter during the story but realised that being angry can hurt people.

Yitping Tay took up the baton at this point with a funny story about a rabbit befriending a leopard, much giggling from the audience as they listened to the colourful antics of these two animals.

The principal was particularly delighted to see how the children were not only totally absorbed during the storytelling but also very keen to answer questions at the end.  She is now waiting eagerly for more such sessions and, of course, Pustaka Bookaroo in April 2016.

 By Jo Williams and Yitping Tay

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On her flying visit to Kuching supported by Oyez Books, Malaysian born author, Cecilia Leong delighted a mixed audience of 25 children and mothers at IKA Picture Story House with excerpts from her book Rainforest Hike.

Rainforest Hike with Cecilia Leong

Raiknforest Hike

Each chapter covers a different aspect of everyday life in Malaysia. Cecilia brought the stories more vividly to life with accompanying craft activities. The room was filled with colourful origami angel fish and pipe cleaner rabbits of all hues.

Children were then given the opportunity to try the traditional bedak sejuk (cool powder) made from rice. A rare treat!  The children left happily clutching signed copies of Cecilia’s book.

By Richard Lee

Instead of using AirAsia to travel from Singapore, Cecilia Leong swam with the guppies with the indigo tail and then hopped on the speedy rabbit all the way to SK Tabuan and then to SK Empila in Kuching, Sarawak.

She brought her animal bag of stories and crafts to captivate over 100 students in Years 2 and 3 about her latest book the Rainforest Hike with Nazri and Xiao Rae. Thank goodness she didn’t bring any live animals or pets as it was standing room only at both schools.  She started each session with what pets they had at home.

At the SK Empila: engrossed

At the SK Empila: engrossed

It started with the usual cats, dogs, hamsters and then went on to other exotic animals like penguins, lions, and tigers! Cecilia seemed both perplexed and excited. It seemed that the students of Kuching had a zoo in the backyards!

Even though SK Tabuan was a city school, the students there seemed to share love of pets and animals with students of the village school at SK Empila. Almost certainly the animals were travelling back and forth on the mighty Sarawak river.

In between stories of guppies and rabbits, Cecilia had an important message of respecting and protecting all animals especially from Borneo. She shared a Malay proverb about animals and the unexpected good fortune they can bring.

To make sure that the students would never forget the stories, Cecilia used origami paper and pipe cleaner to make a fish and rabbit. Will let you figure out what was used to make what!  Needless to say a pipe cleaner and origami paper will never look the same to the students.

The SK Tabuan: equally excited

The SK Tabuan: equally excited

By the end of the session, the room was overflowing with graceful angelfish of all sizes, shapes, and colours along with jumping rabbits perched on the end of a pencil!  Not only were the students captivated by the stories of Nazri and Xiao Rae, the teachers were listening with their rabbit ears and keeping their fingers and hands busy in making animals come alive.

The teachers were impressed with the simplicity and beauty of a story brought alive with some origami paper and pipe cleaners. In between listening to stories, the children with so engrossed that they lost track of time and before they knew it, it was time to end but not without one final picture of over 100 angelfish and rabbits swimming and hopping around the schools of SK Tabuan and SK Empila.

Smiles from one ear to the other were evident along with frenetic motion of angelfish and rabbits in the hands of the students. Next time you are in Kuching, look for the angelfish swimming in the Sarawak river and the rabbits hopping along the Kota Samarahan highway.

By Richard Lee

Ta-na-na- ta-na-na-na-na-na Ta-na-na-ta-na-na-na-na was the hum that resonated from the hall at RS Junior Modern School, the space where about 35 kids from Kutumb belonging to mixed age group of about 8-17 showed up on a Saturday evening.

Rabani Garg, storyteller for the session, began with a story that made a statement about the nature of stories in general. While some of us believe that the stories we hear are true, some of us like to think that they are make-believe or even untrue. Rabani’s stories convinced all of us that ‘thodi si sachhai hamesha reheti hain kahaniyon mein’ (there is some truth in every story). This became clearer when she told us the story of a travelling sage who loved telling stories and due to certain circumstances decided to travel with a girl named ‘Sachhai’ (truth) thereafter. Thus truth travelled alongside his stories everywhere he went.

Truth be told

Truth be told

The second story was about a clever man who got away with lots of wealth and accolades from a kingdom without doing an assigned task of painting. He got away due to the remarkable use of his wit. This was a story from Germany whereby the ministers and family members of a kingdom refused to acknowledge their dark sides in front of everyone. They all pretended to see their own painted images even on a blank wall.

The clever man knew that none of them would admit to having a darker side hence before inviting them to see his work he had told them that ‘only those with a pure heart can see their paintings on the wall’.

Rabani ended the session by explaining how stories travel and how each country borrows from other countries making this process of weaving stories quite an endless venture. The children loved the stories and even more so when they were all invited to make creaking noises of the doors, a knock on the door and bird sounds in an attempt to create the mood.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Storytelling session by Anupa Lal at Deepalaya’s Panchsheel Vihar centre for 35 seven-to-nine-year-old kids had a set of three tales waiting for them.

The journey began with a story of a kindhearted monster that set out on a quest to save his village from bandits. A blue stone given to him by his mother, one catchy chant that helped him change his own size and a colourful underpant tailored with little help from the villagers stood out as significant moments from the tale.

Wit and humour and Anupa Lal

Wit and humour and Anupa Lal

The next one was about a simple and good-natured labourer who discovered kindness and wealth amongst a group of monkeys when he emerged as the human drum. The final story was about an intelligent and hardworking minister at a King’s court who even managed to build his body while he was held captive by the king. His only fault had been to point out to the king the need to appreciate hard work and wit rather than treating everything, especially magic as mesmerizing.

What the king did not understand through his words, the minister explained through his actions. Children loved all the stories and joined in whenever there was scope for some catch phrases to repeat. They loved the variety and jeered and asked questions all through the session.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

The art and crafts session with illustrator Suvidha Mistry at Deepalaya’s Okhla Phase II centre had about 35 kids between the age group of 7-9 years who participated. It was a session about encountering all the minute things in their larger than life forms. Now, how is that possible?

Seeing more clearly

Seeing more clearly

The simple answer, of course, is with the help of a magnifying class. Zoom in closely on the object that catches one’s eye. Children were quite taken in by the idea. As an example, the illustrator drew a tree and upon zooming in, she found a smiling caterpillar there. The kids came up with various art ideas like fish within a bowl, starfish in the sea, a caterpillar inside a mango, a boy inside his home and one bird nest on the tree.

Suvidha creates some more interesting stuff

Suvidha creates some more interesting stuff

Children indulged in the exercise of shading with multiple hues and then zooming in with the readymade black coloured magnifying glass, made of chart paper given to them by Suvidha. They were also provided with smaller circles made of white chart papers where they were to depict the minute object. The bigger picture like the tree, sea and mango were sketched on the A4 sized sheets. Finally the circle and the magnifying glass were stuck on the A4 sheet.

Children were encouraged to think about what they would like to represent and were free to use any colour they fancied. The end product was an hour filled with vibrant artwork, laughter and a sense of accomplishment. Suvidha, children and the teachers everyone worked as a team.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

Tanushree Singh’s session at Deepalaya’s Sanjay Colony Centre saw around 30 seven-to-nine-year-olds really excited and interested in the story and the craftwork that followed it.

The story of Ali, the monkey who saved his house (tree) from an evil monster – with divine intervention – and in the process rescued his other animal friends too, clearly left quite an impression on the kids.

Animal rescue

Animal rescue

The way Tanushree narrated it, with appropriate gestures and voice modulation for every animal and human character, made it all the more appealing. The children especially loved to respond to the gestures. If the author made a sound like tapping on the tree, they made it too. Again when she made a gasping sound, children got the hang of it instantly.

When it came to making a tree with twigs and colourful papers, the kids’ world turned happier. They loved helping each other out and made sure that each of them got to make big, nice leafy trees with various colours. Light green was the obvious one but violet was the colour of the leaf that each child cherished. Teachers helped out too. So there was not much room for anyone to be left out.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

A storytelling session with Ketaki Karnik at the Indian School brought back many childhood memories of playing a sleuth both in real and imaginary situations.

A group of 160 children belonging to class 5 divided into two batches experienced a gripping mystery and investigation session. After providing a short teaser from her detective story, “The Case of the Chinese Mastermind”, Ketaki started with an interactive thriller session with the kids.

Plotting a mystery

Plotting a mystery

It involved a millionaire, a strange TV mechanic, a creepy looking photographer/hiker and a suspicious old lady with a saccharine-tinged personality and, of course, a ferocious Rottweiler/pitbull pet belonging to the millionaire.

The story, about a stolen painting from the millionaire’s residence, projects all the characters as moody, eccentric and dark. It leaves the audience guessing who the culprit could be. The personalities of the characters were developed on the spot through the collaborative effort of both the author and the children. The covert clue was in the attitude of the dog – its bark!

Children from both the batches cooperated with Ketaki in the final revelation and indeed it was quite a thriller. This apart, the children had many questions about what inspires the author to write detective stories, how does one convince the reader that he/she is one of the characters in the book that he/she is reading, how to write stories without implying any supernatural occurrences and so on.

In the end, everyone left feeling accomplished about being successful crime investigators.

By Sebanti Chatterjee

The storytelling session by Richa Jha for 160 children belonging to class 1 and 2 at the Delhi Public School International was a much-awaited event.

With the help of the teachers, Richa formed small groups and provided one book to each group. All the stories that the groups read out reflected something about friendship and each group had to highlight some aspects of the story that touched them. Few were happy to write down about their feeling while others came forward to express themselves in front of everyone.

Friendship bands

Friendship bands

Towards the closing moments, the author asked each one to come up with acronyms for the letters F.R.I.E.N.D. and they had to be related to the theme of the friendship. Children were very responsive and all were quite excited to put across their sets of words and phrases.

The children had an interesting range of questions for the author to address: ‘How are fat books written?’, ‘How to make dictionaries’? Quite a few expressed their future plans of becoming an editor or writing an encyclopedia. One wanted to write a book on the value of friendship. The author patiently explained to them the magic of the graphics behind the illustrated books. She told them how pictures are printed with the help of big machines. She also told them how an editor plays an important role in shaping a story.

Finally, when she was asked about how ideas float around in her imagination, she picked up an example from that very session. Richa told the children that she had figured out the quieter of the two batches and this itself would be the larger idea for her to write a story about DPS International. She also mentioned that if she writes a story about their school, she would want one of the students to do the illustrations for her book cover.

By Sebanti Chatterjee