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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


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

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

‘Bookaroo in the City’ (BIC), the outreach programme of Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival usually happens every year, around the same time as the main festival. There has been an interesting change this time around. The event that schools, teachers and children look forward to will be a round-the-year affair now.

For those who watch advertisements on TV, it is almost like the “har mausam aam” except that BIC fresher, livelier and brings some more zing in the destinations that it visits. The magic of BIC never ceases to amaze me and happened again for me and the 35-40, six to eleven year-olds at The Blind Relief Association, Lodhi Road, Delhi today when Bhakti Mathur narrated stories out of her ‘Amma Tell Me’ series.


Rapt attention

It was the first time Bhakti was doing a story telling session for visually impaired children. She was looking forward to it as much as I was. While Bhakti was narrating the story, I saw a couple of heads moving here and there, I thought the children weren’t paying attention. But to my surprise, when Bhakti got to ask them questions, they were prompt with their answers.

At the end of the session, when asked if they would like to hear more stories in the future, the children’s exhilarated affirmative response brought a big smile on everyone’s face, including their teachers. In fact, even the workers working in the background had a big smile as they sipped on their mango drink.

Ajit Ahuja

As we geared ourselves up for the outreach from January 28th to 30th first and the weekend celebrations at Pandit Farms, we decided to scout around Pune, the city – and its  people – that  we fell in love with during the first edition of Bookaroo last year.

In between trips to stationers we squeezed in a visit to the Aga Khan Museum. It was fascinating to see all the objects of daily use that the museum has preserved. That Kasturba Gandhi and Gandhiji’s secretary died in this house during their internment after the Quit India movement was news to me.

On 26 January, we were lucky to visit the International Super Kite Festival which was held at Moshi on the outskirts of Pune. Forty four kite-fliers from 14 countries pulled various strings to make their creations soar high into the sky. Looking at the kites you realise that when you have a passion for something, the sky is the limit.

The Kite Fest

The Kite Fest

Walking down Pune’s streets is quite an experience. And in the three days that we have been here, a walk down one street or the other filled our evenings. The quiet bungalows, some with a British touch and the apartment blocks – not exactly the towering monsters that Delhi has – lend that special appeal to this wonderful city.

Even as we pore over excel sheets with flight details, IT requirements and GSM of paper we enjoyed the dal khichdi for lunch, washing it down with cool buttermilk. The meal at Hare Krishna is still pending, but we are doing well, switching between the various cuisines available outside too.

The beautiful venue for Bookaroo Pune 2015: Pandit Farms

The beautiful venue for Bookaroo Pune 2015: Pandit Farms

Did you know that gol gappas out here are filled with daal and chutney as opposed to choley, aloo and sauth and green chutney in Delhi? Then there is the variety of Bhel. I say variety because each has a unique style. Mava kulfi is something I have not tried yet as the throat is not behaving well.

Now, it is time to get down to the brass tacks. We shall come back with reports of Day 1 and Day 2 of the outreach programme soon.

Swati Roy

Ameen Ul Haque, founder of The Storywallahs visited the Government Boys Senior Secondary School, Old Faridabad
today for an exciting storytelling session.
The boys aged 16-17 years from the school listened as Ameen told stories and played the harmonica. There followed an interesting discussion of fate versus hard work.
The session was also attended by the school principal and a few teachers.
 IMG_0063 IMG_0090
Ameen Haque
 Tohby R 2
 Today children of Queen Mary’s school in Model Town welcomed the Australian writer Tohby Riddle. The children who belong to the book club attended the session. They warmly welcomed Tohby at the entrance of the auditorium and an introduction was then presented by children of the Book Club. The children had prepared a  wonderful presentation about the author. Tohby Riddle began by showing some slides about his life in Australia with his children as well as his creative working place. He talked about his creations and focused specially on his book, Unforgotten. Children interacted a lot with Tohby and asked many questions. Students anticipated the session and had researched about the books written by the author. So they asked many relevant questions as well as for example some regarding the origin of his inspiration before writing a book and detailed questions on his books. All students were so enthusiastic about the session, as well as teachers. A respectful thank you to the Principal, and colleagues who welcomed Tobhy Riddle and organized so well this Bookaroo visit.
Tohby R 1
 Chrystèle Gauthier


Julia Wauters is a young French lady living near the Atlantic Ocean, where she finds inspiration from nature to illustrate children’s books. She began the session showing to the children some of the books she had worked on and began to explain how she loves to illustrate stories. Unfortunately she doesn’t yet have books in English but that was not a problem for the children. After she showed them how she draws an elephant with black ink. The children were divided into groups of three and they received one coloured paper with a road and papers of 2 others colours. Now began the fun: they had, with only the paper and scissors, to make the little piece of road alive. At the end of the session we put the papers together to make a long road story. The children were really creative and the final work was wonderful.

Thérèse Bogdan Duveiller


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