Friday, October 9, 2015

Science, Bear and All Things Writing - Meet Roopa Pai, Author of 'The Story of Stories'

You know Roopa Pai as the author of the 'Science Series' she has written for Pratham Books, which breaks down science concepts and weaves them into delightful stories. But for our 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, she decided to tell us an intriguing tale of a journalist bear using the imaginative illustrations by Prashant Miranda for the #6FrameStoryChallenge.

On average, Roopa Pai wears three hats every week - children's writer, journalist, and tour guide with history and heritage walks and tours Company, BangaloreWalks - but it is the first that is closest to her heart. In her 20 years of writing for children, she has written hundreds of magazine articles, newspaper columns, poems and short stories, and published over 18 books, 4 of them for Pratham Books. She is the author of Taranauts, India's first original fantasy-adventure series in English for children. Her new bestseller, The Gita For Children, released in July 2015.

We caught up with Roopa to chit-chat and peek into her writer's mind, as her story- 'The Story of Stories' debuted this week on StoryWeaver.

You wrote 'The Story of Stories’ based on Prashant Miranda’s illustrations. What was your experience of weaving a story around these illustrations?

It was a really nice challenge. As a writer, you are so used to the writing leading the way and the illustrations following, that it took a little work to shift my gaze. The fact that these were Prashant Miranda's illustrations - I don't know him, but I have always loved his work - helped; I was excited by the challenge of writing a story that would do justice to his brilliance.

You've been writing children's stories for a few years now. Has there been any change in the way you think about and write children's stories over the years? We'd love to hear more about it.

I've actually been writing for children for over 20 years now. No, I don't think I think or write differently now than I ever did. That sounds like I've stagnated or something, but what I mean is that what I learnt subconsciously from reading great books as a child, and what I was taught at my first job at Target magazine (arguably the best Indian magazine in English for children ever) about what makes good writing for children, still holds true. Some of those maxims, in no particular order, include:

· Children are intelligent, perceptive people - respect them
· Children are highly impressionable - be hyper conscious about the messages you are sending out
· Children absorb information - facts, values, wisdom - best, when it is presented engagingly. You've got to keep your readers reading if you want to teach them anything at all. Work hardest on this.
· It's quite okay for stories not to teach anything and be just loads of fun, but the best stories - even if they are laugh-out-loud funny - leave the reader with something to reflect on.
· Children love humour - try and bring that into your stories.
· Good children's stories are loved equally by adults.

How children choose to spend their free time may have changed over the years, but children haven't changed at all.

What do you d​​o and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to write? Yes, we're asking you to spill your secrets.

Ah, this is actually a closely-guarded secret. I don't go anywhere at all. I can't write in cafes, parks, libraries, other people's homes, on solo holidays in the mountains (not that I've ever taken one, but I know I couldn't have written there if I had), or anywhere else, so I don't even own a laptop. I am sort of chained to my big-screen desktop, which is ironically very liberating - if I'm not in my bedroom in front of my desktop, I am not working! About inspiration to write, I think it happens as I go about my daily life - buying vegetables, having chai with a friend, being pampered at mom's house, helping my kids with schoolwork - but really, my best muse is a looming deadline.

That's why I often say I am not an artiste but a hack - the whip gets me going faster and better than any elusive 'inspiration'. 

What sort of books did you read as a child? 

Oh, all kinds. I was an inveterate bookworm. It is a standing joke among my cousins that when I didn't have anything else to read, I could be found with my nose inside a dictionary. But basically, by the time I was 12 or so, I had, like every other reading child of my generation, gone through hundreds of books - Enid Blyton, the Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys-Three Investigators triumvirate, Agatha Christie, Amar Chitra Katha, Indrajal Comics, Tintin, Asterix, Readers Digest Condensed Books, Star Love Stories in Pictures, Commando comics, Archie comics, Bible stories (I went to a missionary school) and lots of lots of beautifully-illustrated Russian books that used to be freely available at very low prices. 

The thing was, no one curated my reading, so I just read every single thing I could get my hands on, some of which might have been considered highly inappropriate if anyone had looked. It was absolute bliss.

You can read Roopa Pai & Prashant Miranda's story here. You can help this story travel across the world by translating it in languages you're fluent in. Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada, Marathi, Assamese, Spanish, Khmer, we have all this and much much more on StoryWeaver - come be part of our exciting multilingual journey!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Illustrating the World of Harry Potter

Our Twitter feed and Facebook timeline is full of people gushing about the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. In the video below, Jim Kay talks about illustrating the world of Harry Potter. Astounded by all the models he makes while he is in the process of illustrating them! 

And if you want to learn more about Jim Kay's vision of the book, head here to watch another video. The Guardian also has an online gallery of some of the gorgeous illustrations from the book.

Still, no one was more surprised than Kay when JK Rowling’s publishers asked him to illustrate not one but all seven of the Harry Potter books, for glorious new large-scale editions, over the next seven years.

“I’d not really drawn children,” he says quietly, as if still stunned. “And I’m not known for a cheerful style of illustration.” Then there was the fact that the Harry Potter films had already visualised that universe so fully – why do it again, he wondered. And, of course, there was the pressure. As Kay puts it: “You don’t want to be known as the person who ruins the most popular children’s book in history.”

But after almost two years of work, seven days a week, Kay’s illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a triumph – a book so alive it seems to jump, explode and slither out of your hands as you read. Rowling has given it her public seal of approval: “Seeing Jim Kay’s illustrations moved me profoundly,” she wrote for the dust jacket. “I love his interpretation of Harry Potter’s world, and I feel honoured and grateful he has lent his talent to it.” She also wrote to Kay privately. “She sent a really lovely letter, and that’s the first time it hit me that this was real,” he says. “Imagine you’re a vicar and you find a Post-it note from God on your fridge. It was like that.”

Coming Soon...

The book fair and literary festival season is fast approaching. If you are in Kolkata or Bengaluru, here are two events that you can attend this month.

Bengali Literary Fest

India's first Bengali literary festival to be held on October 10 will bring together litterateurs from West Bengal and Bangladesh, the organisers said on Tuesday. 
"Though there are three literary festivals held in Kolkata each year, there is no festival dedicated to Bengali literature," said Tridib Kumar Chattopadhyay, managing director, PatraBharati Group of Publications. 
"Not only will it help to widen visibility but also bring controversial writings to the limelight," he added. 
Themes of discussion include "Epar Bangla Opar Bangla. Sahityer Bhasa Ki Bodle Jacche"(Is the language of Bengali literature changing across the border?), "Bitorko Na Holey Sahitya Jonopriyo Hoena!" (Literature has to be controversial to be popular!) and "Barshik Pujor Phosol! Ete Ki SahityaSamriddhaHoye? (Do the Novels, stories and poems published every year during the festive season contribute to enriching Bengali Literature).
More details here.
Bangalore Book Festival

The 12th edition of the Bangalore Book Festival being organised jointly by the Bangalore Books Sellers and Publishers Association and Indya Comics from October 19 to 25 will not just be about books but also cultural programmes and photo and cartoon exhibition at the Palace Grounds.
“The book fest will primarily showcase more than a million books, and to bring in a broader approach to the ‘world of book sale’ we thought an inclusion of cultural programmes and fine art exhibition would make the event a wholesome Dasara special,” said Nitin Shah, president, Bangalore Books and Publishers Association and Proprietor, Sapna Publishers. 
As many as 300 book stalls will exhibit a million books of 200 publishers
More details here.

Pssst : Pratham Books will also be at the Bangalore Book Festival! We'll share more details next week. See you there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More Stories, More Joy: Read & Translate 'The Story of Stories'

Who doesn’t like more stories? We certainly do and we know you do too :)! With all the love pouring in for the four published stories for the 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, we decided to add four more fantastic stories from four awesome authors. All of October, every week, we will bring a new story for you to read, translate, share and tell. The aim is still the same, taking these 8 stories far and beyond by translating it in as many languages as possible, to be read by thousands of children. 8 stories -100 translations!

This week's edition of 'Weave-a-Story' is an intriguing tale of a journalist Bear called 'The Story of Stories', written by Roopa Pai and imaginatively illustrated by Prashant Miranda for the #6FrameStoryChallenge.
"In a happy, happy, happy forest lives Journalist Bear who is sad because he can't find a 'BREAKING NEWS' story. A Journalist Bear without a 'BREAKING NEWS' story, can you imagine! Then comes along Singing Sardarji who helps Bear see who he really is. Read this story which celebrates the power and magic of stories, and the people who weave them into being."
Click here to read the story and translate it into a language you love.

Note for Translators:
Author of the story, Roopa Pai has a few thoughts and tips for translators as they get on to translating this story. A note from her:

In this story, there are certain phrases that could be tricky for translators, because it was written by someone who thinks in English. However, I've tried to keep much of it pan-Indian, even universal, in context, so that it would work in any geography or with any language. 

Here are my thoughts and tips. 

1. Forest-By-The-Sea and Somewheristan should be translated into whatever language, and not retained as such, even though they could be viewed as 'proper nouns' and therefore untranslatable. Somewheristan in my mind would translate to 'Yello-ond-kade-istan' in Kannada, or even better, because 'istan' doesn't sit as naturally in Kannada as in Hindi, as 'Yellowondooru', In Hindi, 'Kahindooristan' would work. Forest-by-the-Sea in Hindi would be 'Dariyabaajuban' or something similar, and in Kannada could be Kadalakaadu.

2. 'Breaking News' could remain as Breaking News - I think everyone in India understands that concept!!

3. The messages that Telephone Voice people say are eminently translatable into any Indian language, since people of that state / region are very familiar with recorded phone messages in the local language. If the story is to be translated into a language that is not an official language of any state, the translator could go with Hindi - yeh number maujood nahin hai, krupaya jaanch le - which everyone has heard on the phone at some time. 

4. At one point in the story, Bear is thinking he should be a Sweeper Bear, or a Waiter Bear, or a Telephone Voice Bear. The Telephone Voice Bear has to stay, but translators could choose professions other than Sweeper and Waiter for Bear, which are more natural to the context of the language. Whatever profession you choose for Bear, it should be something that doesn't require any particular education or skill - something anyone at all can do. 

5. The song that the Singing Sardarji sings need not be translated word for word, as long as the sense of the song is conveyed.

We hope armed with this knowledge, you are ready with your keyboards and language expertise to take this story to the many children eager to read this in their own language!

The 4 stories launched till now include- Anushka Ravishankar & Priya Kuriyan's 'Its All the Cat's Fault' , 'Ammu's Puppy' by Sowmya Rajendran and Soumya Menon, a Hindi story ‘दीदी का रंग बिरंगा खज़ाना', by Rukmini Banerji and Kaveri Gopalakrishnan and a Tamil story, ‘துப்பறியும் துரை’ written by N Chokkan & illustrated by Megha Vishwanath. Read and translate these and many other stories on StoryWeaver : an open source multilingual platform for children's stories.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Into the Wild

Bijal Vachharajani shares a list of 11 books that will get children to explore the wild. Our book 'The Adventures of Philautus Frog' also gets featured on this list.

On World Habitat Day, we pick 11 books that will enchant young readers and introduce them to habitats where the wild things are.

If you thought frogs lived only in ponds, then Kartik Shanker’s book will make you think again. Shanker’s protagonist is Philautus or Thavalai, a tree frog who has never ever come down from his Big Tree home. One day, Thavalai decides to hop off to look for the big blue sea. He has many adventures, including getting directions from a snake who could have easily swallowed him whole. 

Maya Ramaswamy’s illustrations recreate the dark, deep shola forest, the surrounding hills and grasslands, and their many denizens. A hornbill sits placidly in one corner of the page, while a balloon frog puffs up in purple glory on another. Venomous snakes slither across the book and a dragonfly flits over the words. The book is packed with nuggets of information, such as that grasslands are hot in the day and cold at night, but the shola is always cool. Readers also learn that Thavalai often gets teased because Philautus frogs bypass the tadpole stage and froglets hop straight out of eggs.

See the entire list here.

The Mirrors Windows Doors blog also compiled a delightful list of books - Seeing the Woods and the Trees in 42 Picture Book Stories from Around the World. 2 of our books find themselves on this list too :)

Trees are so much a part of our daily lives, whether we take them for granted or find ourselves fighting for their survival: so it is perhaps unsurprising that there are many stories from all over the world that feature trees, woods or forests as a central theme or ‘character’…
Grandfather Goes on Strike
A boy, the book’s narrator, is dismayed when his aged grandfather climbs an old neem tree and refuses to come down until the council promises not to cut the trees down to make way for urban development. At first sceptical of his grandpa’s stand, he stands by as the police, a doctor, a TV news crew, council officials and other protestors come and go… 
The story gets across very well the blend of affection and irritation that often characterises inter-generational relationships. Whilst some of the scenarios, as well as Grandpa’s apparent lack of planning in his protest, may require some suspension of disbelief, young readers are more likely to get caught up in the humour and emotional responses to what is a relevant current issue; and the book raises important questions about whether and how much you would be willing to stand up for what you believe in.
The Woodcutter of Gura
A woodcutter sits in a tree to chop firewood and is warned by a passing priest that the branch will break and he will fall down and die if he continues. When the first two parts of the prophesy come true, the woodcutter therefore believes that he must indeed have died – and his fellow villagers are convinced also, despite the woodcutter himself giving them instructions for taking him home, fetching his wife etc.
This nonsensical folktale from Ethiopia will tickle young readers’ sense of the ridiculous and make them feel very wise…
Read the book here
View the entire list of recommended books. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mushrooms, umbrellas and an air of mystery: Megha Vishwanathan on her illustrations for 'துப்பறியும் துரை '

For the #6FrameStoryChallenge that we ran early this year, Megha Vishwanathan submitted not just one visual story, but two (see them here)! So when N. Chokkan picked her illustrations to weave a story around it for our 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, we were thrilled. And curious, of course, to see his interpretation! One of the things illustrators seemed to have enjoyed about the #6FrameStoryChallenge was the freedom to create their own stories. And hopefully, illustrators will get more such opportunities to tell stories that are brewing in their minds.

Read this interview with the StoryWeaver team in which Megha Vishwanathan - a Bangalore-based artist - gives us a glimpse into her creative life.

How did it feel to see a story woven around your #6frame illustrations and available on StoryWeaver?
Delighted! I was worried that it's a story not grounded in reality or looks very familiar as just a visual narrative. But I was genuinely happy to see how N.Chokkan has spun a refreshingly new tale. In fact I actually can't wait to hear it read to me in Tamil. 

Tell us a little about the illustrations in 'துப்பறியும் துரை' / 'Kaushik, the Kind Detective'.
The words were really an inspiration :). Of course the eye quickly scans the grid and given the time of the day and caprice of my mind, some words are hot and some not. For this story - I think I saw mushroom and umbrella first and that they can have very deceivingly similar canopies is what the sticky first thought was. In my head, the visual of the little girl under the umbrella and by the canopy of the mushrooms popped first. It pretty much gathered the rest of the visuals to huddle together as a story.

I make digital illustrations. These illustrations were created with an open source imaging tool called GIMP ( and hand drawn and coloured using the Intuous 4 graphic tablet. I most enjoy making black and white drawings and with muted colours. But I can imagine them not being very fun in a children's story. I started sketching these out in just shades of grey, but figured a dash of colour may bring the picked words better into focus.

What do you do and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to draw? Yes, we're asking you to spill your secrets.
I am on a self-imposed healthy diet of appreciating art online from the world over everyday. I read and watch movies for all that wonderful cross-pollination. I'm usually behind schedule with the ideas sprouting in my head, and at least for now I am not short of inspiration. It's often my discipline to put them on paper or my skills that can't keep up. I have an eclectic mix of favourite artists, writers and film productions and it's a really long list. Currently I'm reading a Neil Gaiman comic and blissfully staring at mythological art from a lot contemporary artists I follow.

I have been wanting to find visual narratives by going for walks, taking photos, making /listening in on conversations, etc. Maybe that too, in less busier times. I do visit the far and few galleries in the city with my always-up-for-an-art-outing kind of company, usually follow it up with live studies in a park, public space or a cafe. I probably feel more inspired in places where there are people, animals and interaction. Scenic mountains and boundless oceans are for times that I need to calm my monkey mind :)

Read the story created by Megha Vishwanathan and N. Chokkan in Tamil (original) and English. Through StoryWeaver's 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, it has already been translated by the StoryWeaver community into Hindi and Punjabi. We want this story to travel as widely as possible and for this to be possible, it needs to be available in many more languages. Can you - our ever-supportive community - help us share this with more children by translating it into languages you're fluent in? It's super simple, see the video tutorial here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fundraising Fridays

October starts on a good note, with festivities around the corner and the start of the Joy of Giving Daan Utsav. It's a great feeling to bring you this edition of Fundraising Fridays, with a glimpse of milestones Donate-a-Book has crossed in the last 3 months since its launch and the good news of Donate-a-Book having won the 'Publishing Innovation of the Year' at The Publishing Next Industry Awards 2015.

With 81 campaigns funded on the platform in the last 90 days, over 30,000 books have been raised through them. These books have reached over 250 libraries spreading the joy of reading to 1,00,000+ children. From a tiny village in Kolwadi near Pune, to the hinterlands of Bundelkhand, our books have travelled far landing into little hands which have cherished them.

This October starts with a hope of sending out another 20,000 books by Children's Day this year.You can help India's children read by participating in our Donate-a-Thon to ensure 50,000 books land into the laps of children who love reading.

This week's list of campaigns ending soon as well as new arrivals are listed below, to help you make a swift choice to help India's children read:

Updated on 9th October 2015

In a Government school in Chennai, 26 second graders are hoping to get books to read. Only 6 days left to help them.

Only 424 new books are required to get 200 children reading more books. Build a library in Bengaluru Now!

CORP works for orphans,street children, differently able, those from marginalized and vulnerable section of slum communities in Mumbai and is seeking 1762 more books in 7 days. They need our support.

Lend a hand to set up the first library in St. Francis English Medium High School in Pune. 60% of the journey covered, only a little more to cover in the next 8 days.

Sidharth Sadarangani's class of 30 Grade 3 students is raising funds for library which will serve the entire school. They just have a few hours to go and 556 more books to raise. (Closed)

A place that houses your best friend- yes, the library! Help this Kannada medium school set up a English library to master a new language. Just 200 books short of their dream library. (Closed)

Level 1 books to build interest in reading and Level 2 books to getting them to read is what this teacher from Ahmedabad is raising funds for. 250 books and 2 days to go(Closed)

This school in Chennai is already past the half mark and needs your support to reach the finish line. 7 days left to raise 144 books to help these little readers. (Fully-funded)

We have a bunch of new and exciting campaigns this week.

Aham Bhumika is hoping to fulfill its long term dream of setting up a library in the village they work in, on outskirts of Bhopal. Help them fulfill their dream here.

With a focus on setting up more libraries in the village communities of Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, IT Nature Trust is seeking 800 books.

A very small children's library in Cuddalore, a town near Pondicherry does read aloud sessions with over 200 children every week. They require exciting and engaging books to inspire the children to read more. Support them.

A PhD student is passionate about setting up a library in his village's Government school to help nurture the reading habit in children. Help him raise the 800 books required for the children there.

Experience the Joy of Giving with Donate-a-Book : a unique crowdfunding platform for children's books.

Meet N. Chokkan, the creator of Kaushik, the first-time detective

N. Chokkan has been a friend of Pratham Books for a while now. He has translated for us, re-mixed our stories and now started weaving stories on StoryWeaver. Typically, in the world of picture books, the story is written first and the illustrations follow. In the case of 'துப்பறியும் துரை', however - the 4th story published through the 'Weave-a-Story' campaign - the story was woven by N. Chokkan based on Megha Vishwanathan's illustrations for the #6FrameStoryChallenge. Well, one has to be as imaginative and spirited as N. Chokkan to have taken on the challenge with joy. Aren't we glad to have friends like him!

In a short interview (available in Tamil and English) with the StoryWeaver team, N. Chokkan elaborates on his journey with Pratham Books and love for Tamil.

Read the interview in Tamil.

நீங்கள் பல ஆண்டுகளாக பிரதம் புக்ஸுடன் இணைந்து பணியாற்றிக்கொண்டிருக்கிறீர்கள். மொழிபெயர்த்திருக்கிறீர்கள், எங்களுடைய 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice' போட்டியில் கலந்துகொண்டிருக்கிறீர்கள், இப்போது கதையெழுத ஆரம்பித்திருக்கிறீர்கள். பிரதம் புக்ஸ் சமூகத்தின் ஓர் அங்கமாக இருப்பதுபற்றி என்ன நினைக்கிறீர்கள்?

உண்மையாகச் சொல்லவேண்டுமென்றால், நான் முதன்முதலாக பிரதம் புக்ஸைக் கவனிக்கக் காரணம், உங்கள் புத்தகங்களின் விலைதான். என்னிடம் புத்தகம் வாங்க நூறு ரூபாய்தான் இருக்கிறது என்றால், உங்களுடைய புத்தகங்கள் நான்கை வாங்கலாம், அதே விலைக்கு மற்றவர்களின் புத்தகங்கள் ஒன்றுதான் (அல்லது அதைவிடக் குறைவாகதான்) கிடைக்கும். குறைந்த செலவில் அதிகக் கதைகள் படிக்கலாம் என்றுதான் உங்கள் புத்தகங்களை வாங்கத் தொடங்கினேன்.

விலை காரணமாக இப்படிச் சில புத்தகங்களை வாங்கியபிறகு (அவற்றின் தரமும் அபாரமாக இருந்தது!), பிரதம் புக்ஸ் என்பது வெறும் குறைந்த விலைப் புத்தக நிறுவனம் அல்ல என்று நான் புரிந்துகொண்டேன். புத்தகங்கள், கதைகளை ஒவ்வொரு குழந்தைக்கும் கொண்டுசெல்லும் உங்களுடைய கனவை நான் மிகவும் ரசித்தேன். இந்தச் சிறந்த சேவையில் நானும் பங்கேற்க விரும்பினேன், உங்களுக்கு ட்விட்டரில் எழுதி, பதில் பெற்றேன்.

அன்றுமுதல் பிரதம் புக்ஸுடன் தொடர்ந்து பணியாற்றிக்கொண்டிருக்கிறேன். புத்தகங்களை மொழிபெயர்ப்பது, பிறர் மொழிபெயர்ப்புகளைத் திருத்தித்தருவது, போட்டிகளில் பங்கேற்பது, கதைகள் எழுதுவது என்று இது ஓர் இனிமையான பயணம், என்றைக்கும் தொடரவேண்டும் என விரும்புகிறேன்.

பிரதம் புக்ஸுடன் பணியாற்றுவது எனக்கு மிகவும் பிடித்திருப்பதற்கு முக்கியக் காரணம், நீங்கள் செய்யும் ஒவ்வொன்றிலும் நிஜமான ஆர்வம், முனைப்பு தெரிகிறது. அது சமூக வலைத்தள நிகழ்ச்சியாகட்டும், உண்மையான விழாவாகட்டும், நீங்கள் எதையும் வெறும் விளம்பரத்துக்காகச் செய்வதில்லை. குழந்தைகள்மீது நீங்கள் காட்டும் அக்கறையும், கதைகளின்வழியாக அவர்களைச் சென்றடைவதில் காட்டும் ஆர்வமும் உன்னதமானவை!

நீங்கள் மேகா விஸ்வநாதனின் ஓவியங்களை வைத்துத் 'துப்பறியும் துரை' என்ற கதையை எழுதியிருக்கிறீர்கள். அந்தப் படங்களுக்குக் கதை எழுதிய அனுபவத்தைப்பற்றிக் கொஞ்சம் சொல்லுங்கள்.

முதலில், இது எனக்குப் புதிய அனுபவமே அல்ல. ஏற்கெனவே 'Remix, Retell and Rejoice' போட்டிகளை நடத்தி நீங்கள் எங்களுக்கு நல்ல பயிற்சி தந்திருக்கிறீர்கள்!

இந்த ஓவியங்கள் மிகவும் எளிமையாக, அதேசமயம் விரிவானவையாக இருந்தன. இரண்டு அருமையான கதாபாத்திரங்களை, அவர்கள் சந்திக்கும் நிகழ்வை அழகாக விவரித்தன, ஆங்காங்கே இருந்த கோடுகளை நான் நிரப்பினேன். அவ்வளவுதான். இதே ஓவியங்களை வைத்து இதுபோல் நூற்றுக்கணக்கான கதைகளை உருவாக்கலாம். அதுதான் ஆனந்தமான உண்மை!

நீங்கள் தமிழில் எழுதுகிறீர்கள், மொழிபெயர்க்கிறீர்கள், தமிழ்பற்றி உங்கள் உணர்வுகளை மிகவும் அழுத்தமாக வெளிப்படுத்துகிறீர்கள். இப்படி உங்கள் மொழியைப்பற்றிப் பெருமிதம் கொள்ளும் உணர்வு எப்படி அமைந்தது?

வெளிப்படையாகச் சொல்லவேண்டுமென்றால், என் நண்பர்கள்மத்தியில் நான் தமிழைத் தூக்கிப்பிடிக்க ஆரம்பித்த காரணம், எனக்கு அவர்களைப்போல் நல்ல ஆங்கிலம் படிக்க/ எழுத/ பேசத் தெரிந்திருக்கவில்லை.

அப்போது நான் பொறியியல் படித்துக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். பாடங்கள் அனைத்தும் ஆங்கிலத்தில் இருந்தன. நான் அதுவரை தமிழ்வழியில் படித்ததால், அவர்கள் நடத்தும் பாடங்கள் எவையும் எனக்குப் புரியவில்லை.

ஆனால், என் நண்பர்கள் பலர் ஆங்கிலவழியில் படித்திருந்தார்கள். அவர்களுக்கு இந்தப் பாடங்கள் சிரமமாகவே இல்லை. அவர்கள் வகுப்புக்கு வெளியிலும் தங்களுக்குள் ஆங்கிலத்தில் பேசிக்கொண்டார்கள். என்னைப்போன்ற தமிழ்வழி மாணவர்களிடம் வேண்டுமென்றே ஆங்கிலத்தில் கேள்வி கேட்பார்கள், நாங்கள் தமிழில் பதில் சொன்னால் கேலி செய்து சிரிப்பார்கள்.

இவை அனைத்தும் எனக்கு மிகுந்த மன உளைச்சலைத் தந்தன. என்னுடைய பலவீனத்தை மறைப்பதற்காக, தமிழ்மேல் எனக்கு இருந்த அன்பை உரக்கச் சொல்ல ஆரம்பித்தேன்.

இதற்காக, நான் நிறைய தமிழ்ப் புத்தகங்களைப் படித்தேன், நாவல்கள், சிறுகதைத் தொகுப்புகள், கவிதைகள், பழந்தமிழ் இலக்கியங்கள்... என்னுடைய நண்பர்கள் தினமும் பல ஆங்கில நாவல்களைப் படிக்கிறார்கள் என்பதால், வீம்புக்காகவே நான் விதவிதமான தமிழ் நூல்களை வாங்கிக் குவித்தேன். என் விடுதி அறையில் நூற்றுக்கணக்கான (தமிழ்ப்) புத்தகங்கள் இருந்தன. அவையெல்லாம் இப்போதும் என்னிடம் உள்ளன!

இப்படிப் படித்த புத்தகங்கள்தான் தமிழின் சிறப்பை எனக்குச் சொல்லின. அதில் உள்ளவற்றைப் படிக்கவே இந்த ஆயுள் போதாது என்று புரிந்துகொண்டேன். அந்த பிரமிப்பு 'இது என் மொழி' என்கிற பரவசத்தைக் கொடுத்தது.

சுருக்கமாகச் சொன்னால், நான் தமிழ்க் காதலனாக்கும் என்று சும்மா பந்தாவுக்குத் தொடங்கிய விஷயம், இப்போது தேனாற்றில் நீந்தும் அனுபவமாக மாறியிருக்கிறது!

என் மொழி எனக்குப் பெருமை. இதுபோல் இன்னும் பல நல்ல மொழிகள் உள்ளது எனக்குத் தெரியும். ஆனால், இந்தப் பிணைப்பு உணர்வுபூர்வமானது, உன்னதமானது!

Read the interview in English.

You've had a long and strong association with Pratham Books. You've been a translator, you've participated in our 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice' contest and now you're a Weaver as well. Tell us a little about being part of the Pratham Books community.

To be frank, my original interest with Pratham Books started because your books were priced right. If I had only Rs 100 to buy books, I could buy four books from you, instead of one (or less) from others. Who wouldn't like reading more stories for the same cost?

After buying few books purely for the price reason (and the quality was amazing!), I realised Pratham Books is much more than low cost books. I liked your dream of taking books and stories to every child. I wanted to contribute to this great cause and wrote to you in twitter, got a positive response and the association started. I translated many stories, story cards, reviewed translations, participated in contests and started weaving stories now. I loved every minute of this and hoping to continue this association forever!

I like working with Pratham Books mainly because I can see the passion in everything you do. Whether it is a social media event or a physical program, you are not doing anything simply for the sake of media publicity or brand building. I can see you care deeply for children and want to use stories as a medium to reach to them.

You wrote 'துப்பறியும் துரை' based on Megha Vishwanathan's illustrations. What was your experience of weaving a story around these illustrations?

This is not the first time I wrote a story based on existing illustrations. You prepared us well with your earlier Remix, Retell and Rejoice contests :)

Coming to these illustrations, they were simple, yet detailed. They gave a small snapshot with two lovely characters, I had to just fill in the blanks. It was a great experience, and I am sure 100s of other stories can be built from the same illustrations. That's the fun part.

You write in Tamil and also do a lot of translations. Evidently, you feel very strongly about Tamil and we admire your efforts. What inspires you to be a champion of the language, in a sense?

Again, a frank answer, I became a champion of Tamil among my friends because I couldn't read/ write/ speak good English like them.

I was studying Engineering and all the lessons were taught in English. I studied in Tamil Medium till that time and couldn't follow anything they say.

But, many of my friends were from English medium and they were quite comfortable with this. They even spoke to each other in English. They would tease us (Tamil medium students) by asking some questions to us, and laughing when we answer in Tamil.

It took me a while to adjust to this new reality. While doing so, I tried to hide my weakness by loudly expressing my love towards Tamil.

In this process, I started reading many Tamil books, all kinds of books, stories, novels, poems, ancient literature... just to protest against my friends who were reading English Best sellers at a rate of 2.5 novels a day. My hostel room had hundreds of (Tamil) books in different subjects. That collection is with me even now!

While I read these books, I realized the true greatness of this language. I could see this lifetime won't be enough if I wanted to read all, digest all. That feeling of amazement also made me feel proud and happy about knowing this great language.

To put it short, I started "showing off" my love towards Tamil and that made me lock myself in a nectar ocean!

I am very proud of my language, I understand there are many other great languages too, but this bonding is very emotional and special.

You can read the original version of N. Chokkan and Megha Vishwanathan's story here. And, the English version can be read here. You can help this story travel across the world by translating it in languages you're fluent in.  Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada, Marathi, Assamese, Spanish, Khmer, we have all this and much much more on StoryWeaver - come be part of our exciting multilingual journey!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Heading to Hyderabad with This Month's Calendar Page

We've had a fantastic September and this month looks equally promising. In this month's calendar, Priya Kuriyan takes us to Hyderabad. Can you recognize the setting?

Add a dash of colour and fun by making this your screensaver and strictly follow the message on this image 'There's always room for one more story' :). If you are wondering where you will find so many stories, head here.

How do I make this image my screensaver?
Right click on the image below and save it. Set as your screensaver (or maybe even your Facebook cover picture?). Done, done, done!

P.S - If you change your desktop screen, we would love to see some pictures of this travelling across screens :). Mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org OR share your pictures with us onFacebook, Twitter or Instagram.

The Reading Need Not Stop

Our half-yearly stock taking is on from 1st-10th October, 2015. While you can order books from our e-store, shipping of books ordered during this period will be delayed. (Pssst : have you seen our new books?)

But the reading need not stop. Hop over to StoryWeaver, our open source platform for stories, to read hundreds of free stories in 27 languages. Happy Reading!