At SJK Chung Hua No 1 Tom McLaughlin was greeted by approximately 50 children. He started the session by asking the children to use their imagination and draw a purple man with one horn and one eye who could fly. He encouraged them to make a 3 page comic book on the character.

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Colourful comics

At the end of the session, Tom gave his comic ‘The Borneo Boy’ to all students.

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The principal and children of Little Learner Kindergarten gave a warm welcome to Grace Jie Jie (Grace Wong) and Lulu Jie Jie(Mah Xiang Ru). Lulu Jie Jie is a PhD in molecular biology but is passionate about paper craft and storytelling. Grace Jie Jie is an early childhood lecturer who loves books and storytelling.

Lulu Jie Jie started the session with some music and taught the children some movements to warm them up. After this Grace Jie Jie narrated a story about gorilla that was looking for friends.

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Stand up and dance

Lulu Jie Jie told a story about a child who wanted to eliminate his enemy. His father told him about a magic pie that would make his enemy disappear. All he needed was to play with his enemy one full day without fighting. Lulu Jie Jie ended the session with some more music and dance.

Grace Rong Rong captivated both children and their parents at China House, The Old Court House. She told them two stories, both about fishes.

The first story was about a fish motif that goes missing from a boy’s shirt. The fishes flew away and the little boy tries to bring them back on his shirt through various ways. He succeeds after he writes a letter to all the five fishes.

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The second story was about a small fish that stole a hat from a bigger fish and how the hat was recovered from the small fish.

Grace also had a craft session and showed the children how to make a beautiful fish sun catcher. The children proudly showed off their craft at the end of the session.

Alan Tan is a man of many talents. He is not only a primary school teacher, but also a radio announcer. And he loves to tell stories.

A bunch of 70 enthusiastic kids greeted Alan at SJK St. Paul. After the initial introduction Alan started the session with some songs and games.

The story he shared with the children was about a lion that had 1000 teeth. But he lost all of them as a boy fed him lots of candy.

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Dancing with Alan

Alan also narrated another story about a Monster which was actually a dog. The dog-turned-monster had the ability of eating all the abusive words its master said at home while quarreling and scolding. The more he ate the bigger he became. In the end, the family members learned how to talk nicely and softly at home.

Alan made his session interesting with songs and acts and the children enjoyed the session a lot.

Today was a special day. Storyteller Rituparna Ghosh had a beautiful theme where she handpicked stories about brave girls. The rainy morning with a windy feel added to the ambience. For the younger group of children, about 6-7 years at the Jaypee Public School, the author weaved an original tale about Mini who loves to paint. However, what sets her apart is the way she experiences the world of colours. Mini is only 6 years old, a very happy person and is even encouraged to become a painter when she grows up. She cannot see and that is why Mini uses her other sensory experiences like the sound, smell, touch and taste to feel what she creates. One moment of the story which helps the listeners understand Mini’s delight in learning about the colors she uses is when her mother tries to console her.  Mini’s mother makes her taste ‘tomato’, ‘tulsi leaves’, smell ‘coffee’, touch the ‘bark of the tree’ or ‘the garden earth’ and makes her hear the ‘sound of the raindrops’. All this allows her to also associate each object with a particular color.

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Do you know the taste of colours?

We see in the end how Mini is able to guess what color of expression her sister is wearing from the tone of her voice. She laughs out saying ‘Didi, you must be all red with anger because bhaiya has put green color on your face. I know you do not like the color green which is colour of Tulsi leaves’. The story makes one believe that if one has the courage to smile through difficulties, the journey definitely becomes a lot easier. Children enjoyed thoroughly because Rituparna made sure that each expression was animated and each episode was well conveyed. When the children were asked to associate one color with and activity of their choice, the results were varied. One child associated the color Red with playing, another one found the same color appropriate to express his emotion when he is cycling. One associated the color blue with swimming; one found the color of dancing to be rainbow and another one associated the color orange with Toys. Overall, children did try to imagine how they could enter the world of colors using the other sensory experiences.

The second story was for a slightly older age group. There were students from classes III, IV and V who were transported to the Taliban inflicted world of 12 year old Malala who vowed to fight for education come what may. Rituparna did a wonderful session where she introduced the highlights of the entire biography in just an hour. She approached the part about the political tensions between Afghanistan and the United States of America and the role of Pakistan. She spoke about the genesis of Taliban group and how they gained control over certain parts of Pakistan, how they entered Swat and generally what it was like to be born as a girl in Pashtun community, the community to which Malala belonged. Malala, named after Malalai, whose words of encouragement made Pakistan win the war against the British in the 1880’s truly lived up to her name. It took massive determination, passion and courage to put forth a question like ‘Who is the Taliban to take away my basic right to education?’ Slowly, the influence of Radio Mullah from the Taliban group started to spread terror in Pakistan. Girls were forced to stop going to school. Few motivated students like Malala and a few others had to go to school in the hiding from the back gate.

Rituparna also narrated briefly the story of Malala’s father who was the source of her support and belief system to begin with, his small school and his endeavors. Children were in awe after hearing the story. Towards the end, they were asked to write very short letters addressed to Malala and the response was indeed marvelous. Just to give an idea, I end with what one of the boys wrote- ‘Malala makes me feel that girls and boys should be respected equally’.

Author and comic book scriptwriter Kshitish Padhy was given a warm welcome when he visited NGO Swabalamban. The author made the children learn new things with his unique sense of humor, activities and acting. He started the session with a small Balloon game, where one child had to act like pumping air in the balloon and his partner acted like a balloon getting inflated. It’s an exercise that keeps your lungs strong and healthy. The children participated in the game enthusiastically.

Hop goes the frog and pop goes the balloon

Hop goes the frog and pop goes the balloon

Then he played a game called POP-POP, with kids, where one had to jump like frogs saying pop, the game stretched for quite some time as children were enjoying it to fullest. After that he introduced them with the concept of theater acting and all the kids gladly showed him their acting skills. Some acted like birds, some animals and some their real life idols.

Our author boosted their confidence, and made them believe that one can find happiness and success in small things. He made them realize how education is important for their career. The children promised to work hard in studies and requested the author to visit again.

 

The children at Shri Ram Global School, Gurgaon had a rocking time when Sharada Kolluru visited them on Wednesday. They sang songs of Bunnu Bhai with her. Sharada lead about 80 students, between the ages of 6-8, to the forest of Kaziranga and introduced them to Bunnu Bhai the cheery Rhino who had a song for every occasion. Bunnu Bhai invites all the animals of the jungle to a night of vegetarianism. But what happens when the feast is interrupted by an earthquuuaaake! Well Bunnu Bhai has a song to calm everyone during the calamity.

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When the tiger ate salads and the rhino sand a song

The children laughed and sung along with Bunnu Bhai. The tiger who ate salad had them rolling with laughter, howling with the wolf to announce the party and snoring with Bunnu when the story ended. The session ended with a lot of the participants expressing a desire to be writers and Sharada sharing the story of how she became one.

When Christopher C Doyle kicked off his session at Indian School with a bunch of 14-15-year-olds, there were quite a few mystery and science buffs but not too many hands went up when history was mentioned. An hour later, when he had finished, one could see many a convert to history too.

Doyle mixed mystery, science, mythology and history to keep the children rooted to their seats. Any teacher would have given his or her right arm to get such an attentive audience.

The proceedings started off with a presentation of the mysteries of the world. How did the stones at Stonehenge get up there in the first place? How was one stone (some of them weighing 50 tonnes) placed on top of others without a crane being used in the process? How were such big, heavy stones transported and used to construct the pyramids of Egypt?

History will no more be a mystery

History will no more be a mystery

It was enough to set the stage for what was to follow. Doyle emphasized the fact that he uses ancient history and what happened then with mythology and science to create fiction set in the modern world. Both his books – The Mahabharata Secret and the Mahabharata Quest: Alexander’s Secret – mesmerized. Doyle went on to talk about Alexander’s Secret in detail and the Greek conqueror’s connection with an event in the Mahabharata – the Samudra Manthan.

Did Alexander come to India with the express purpose of getting at the nectar that guaranteed immortality? Doyle left the question for the students. And the queue at the books display left no doubt that the children wanted to know more.

Australian artist Michael Camileri and Bookaroo in the City visited Bihar to add more color to it. Their adventure in the city started with 44 children in the Parivartan, an Integrated Rural Development Initiative campus in Narendrapur, Siwan district. He started the session by asking the students what they liked to draw and they happily showcased their work. He then introduced them to doodling and they all put their imagination together to create a city of their dreams. A giant chart paper came alive with doodles of a flying mansion, colorful creatures from the wildest of imaginations. The best part about the session was that it gave each student a chance to put their imagination to play. The final piece of art has a little bit of each of them.

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Doodling is fun

The next day, Michael and Bookaroo visited Bhatkan village. He painted one of the walls in the village with the portrait of the girl who lives there. The village dwellers were overwhelmed by the gesture. In his next session with the students of Parivartan, Michael showed them how comic books are created. He gave them situation and asked them to draw their own versions of the episode. The results were surprising and funny.

On his final day in Bihar, Camileri painted a wall in Shaheed Umakant Senior Secondary School in Siwan. He divided the students into groups of three; each group got a sheet of paper which was further divided into three, one for each member of the group. Each student was told to make one third of the body, either the face or the legs or the middle. The condition was that they had to hide their drawings from each other. When everyone was done, Michael put the three pieces together and put all the drawing on display for everyone to see. The result was hilarious but very creative.

Bookaroo in the City and author Ranjit Lal made a visit to the British School on Monday. Our audience was a class full of aspiring writers between the ages of 10 to 12 years.

Case of nuts

Case of nuts

Mr Lal introduced the students to nutcase Nana, welcoming a lot of stories from the children about their grandparents and what they like the best about them. After exchanging stories and reading an extract of the book (Our Nana was a Nutcase), the session progressed into a press conference. The audience had a lot of questions for the author like how he caught the writing bug, how is it being a writer in India, which are his favourite books, authors, genre, and a lot more, and Mr Lal indulged his audience with a lot of amusing anecdotes about writing, reading, bird-watching and more. The session ended, although the questions had not, with the promise that they will start writing more and the audience very reluctantly bid their goodbyes.

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