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We have all seen puppets and puppeteers at work and play. However, what we do not know and would probably love to know is how to learn the art.

Brian Zimmerman offered that opportunity to 23 students of SK St Thomas as he began his session, The Wonderful World of Puppetry, and every student – and teacher – present there hung on to his every word and move.

Brian took them through the techniques of bringing puppets to life, the children tried their hand at manipulating the puppets they were given and the teachers enjoyed watching the children enjoying themselves.

Brian was in Kuching as a speaker in Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival held at the Pustaka Negeri Library.

John Jong

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.

Bic March

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’.

Almost 100 tiny tots from DWCA School zoomed past the world of reality and landed in a thrilling and magical one as someone turned the carpet below them into a Magic Carpet! Well, it was none other than our very vivacious storyteller Vinita Zutshi who transported these 4 year olds to the world of Tommy the dog who barks as ‘weeeee!!’ and to the mysterious land of ‘Ulat-Palat’ Nagar (a topsy-turvey city) where people sleep under their beds, wear their shoes in their hands and greet each other by saying ‘Good-Bye’..!

Flight of fantasy

Flight of fantasy

 

There was more fun and laughter as Vinita took her magical key out and set the carpet to zoom into the magical world of her stories, captivating the young minds with wonder. Through her series of tales Vinita addressed the possibility of thinking beyond ‘day to day’ life and instigating a string of non-realistic and amusing thoughts engaging the kids. The session received a wonderful response from both the kids and the teachers through their active participation in the acts which the storyteller was engaging them into.

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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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