Signing on to a writing project like this was a new experience altogether. The occasion was the upcoming wedding in an Indian family settled in the US. And it was not any ordinary wedding. The bride was Gujarati and the groom an American. And the family thought this marrige would make a good kids story about acceptance and integration in multi-racial America.
The bride and groom decided they wanted their experience to be pitched to kids aged 8 to 12. So my brief was to turn this real life love story into a book that would interest young readers.
In the process I got to know two families via e-mail as siblings and parents shared their stories with me. I enjoyed the writing and illustrating process thoroughly because the family were completely open to experimenting, giving me total freedom to choose how to tell their story.
So the wedding was on the 28th of April. And this book was shared with guests, somewhat as the ‘return gift’. And now, it is available on Kindle, and soon on Amazon USA. Since the family has been a long-term supporter of Pratham, all proceeds from the sale of this book will go to this NGO working with disadvantaged kids across India.
Enjoyed illustrating the two tongue-in-cheek articles for the Sunday Herald a couple of months back. They were on how, it’s now high fashion to rediscover our roots. And the deeper we dig, apparently, the more high-fashion we are!
There’s nothing like being given a blank canvas to fool around on — for someone who loves doodling. And when that ‘blank canvas’ is an ENTIRE WALL that I get to invite about 70 kids to scribble on, it sounds like a delicious mess! Just hope that’s a sturdy wall… it’s not often that kids are told, ‘Go ahead, sweetie, write on the wall! I will clean up after you…’ It’s usually the other way around.
Thinking about what quick little tricks I could teach kids, that they could try out immediately, I remembered a comic strip I’d done some years back for a newspaper… it featured an eye-brow-less pair of characters… a tiger and a rat. The speech bubbles were also empty. So kids were invited to write their own dialogues, based on which animals they cast as the hero and villain. And to add on the eyebrows in ways that matched the character’s mood or what it had said.
I thought I could combine ‘eyebrows’, that are a super-easy way to add expressions to a face, with something tougher — kids often struggle with drawing the limbs of animals. They tend to visualise those four legs like human legs, straight and long. So I thought I’d add a few tips on ‘joints’. My two sessions ‘Eyebrows and Elbows’ on the 22nd of February will start off with a reading from my short story ‘Friends or Enemies’ illustrated by Lavanya Naidu, in the ‘Prankenstein’ (Speaking Tiger) anthology.
Really looking forward to some craziness from the kids.
Check out the action-packed schedule Bookaroo has planned for Mumbai kids at: http://www.bookaroo.in/year/Funny%20Bunny%20Tales/mumbai/
This September, the winners of Deccan Herald’s annual short story contest (conducted by Sunday Herald) were announced. I illustrated a couple of the prize winning stories.
‘Crockery’ by Jessamine Therese Mathew
…and ‘Sea-crets’ by Pragya Joshi
I haven’t read ‘The Room of Many Colours’ in its entirety. The School Edition sends me a few chapters at a time, to be illustrated, at regular intervals and that’s how we’ve progressed so far. And since the book is really a huge collection of short stories and novellas, I’m never sure which part we’re at — the middle, or end.
The last story this week gave me a sense that the book is winding down. It has the feeling of an epilogue. An old Mr Bond, basking in the winter sun and looking back on a life time spent deeply involved in what appears to others as ‘doing nothing’! Considering he’s one of India’s most prolific writers, all those who swore he’d amount to ‘nothing’ must be turning in their graves!
Here are a pair of ‘before and after’ pics of a younger and older Bond…both on the same wall, doing nothing! I loved illustrating this story, particularly.
‘The Room of Many Colours’ is another Ruskin Bond collection of short stories. The Deccan Herald School Edition is serialising it this term. Thankfully, most of the stories are set up in the hills. So for a few hours every other day as I illustrate a story, I get to pretend I’m not in traffic-congested, buried-under-garbage Bengaluru, but breathing in the clean mountain air on some lower Himalayan slopes, in a time capsule frozen in the 1950s maybe.
Gentle, haunting stories, with the author’s crazy family members popping in for a guest appearance now and then.