Sandhya Taksale, editor (Pratham Books), interviewed Madhuri Purandare - the author and illustrator of 'Daddy's Mo' and 'Aunty Jui's Baby.
Our author and illustrator, Madhuri Purandare received the prestigious Sahitya Academi award for her contribution to children's literature.
Madhuri is quite a well-known children's author. She has written and illustrated more than 23 story
books. She has conceived, edited 'Vaachu Aanande' –a thematic anthology of Marathi literature and Indian Art for children between 10 to 15 years of age. Because of her keen interest in language and grammar, she authored a three-volume book containing a series of Marathi language exercises for school children
Although we know her as a children's author, Madhuri has amazing dimensions to her personality. She is an accomplished singer; she has a degree from JJ school of Arts. She also studied 'Painting and Graphic Arts' in Paris for one year. She illustrates and designs her own books. She was active in Marathi theatre and had a stint with films. In Govind Nihalan's 'Ardhasatya' she played a small role and gave playback for a song in 'Aakrosh'. Madhuri has left her mark in almost all fields of art. She knows French and taught it for 18 years. She has worked on many French- Marathi translations. She edited a bi-monthly for the 'Vanasthali' Rural Development Centre.
Currently she is Chief Art advisor to Su- Darshan Art gallery in Pune.
You were busy doing lot of things in various fields at that time. What made you write for children?
I didn't have any plans for writing for children. Among many other things, I was also editing a bi-monthly called Vanasthali. It was for Balwadi teachers in rural areas. We thought that it is necessary to give something for children to read. I started searching. I knew French. So initially I adapted some stories from that language. Then I started thinking story as a format. It was through sheer necessity that I started writing and illustrating my stories. Till then, actually I hadn't done anything for children.
For early readers, I make up stories from simple and every day events from Child's life. They could easily connect with their surrounding. Classics could be introduced to children after a certain age.
Your stories are always from the child's point of view. You put yourself in their shoes and look at things around. What makes it possible? You don't even seem to mix up with kids often.
Kids are not my part of life. I am not surrounded by them or don't mix up or interact with them either.
But I observe.
When I watch the world cinema, I am interested in what way and how child looks at a particular situation. When I read good children's literature, I always read it from the child's angle. How the child must be looking at it, how she gets to understand things while reading and so on.
Could you give any example?
'The Little Prince' a novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (It was voted the best book of the 20th century in France.) In this story the world is seen through the eyes of a child. It is interesting to see the way he uses the language, the command over the technique of storytelling and an eye for the detail.
The Marathi language you use in your stories is quite remarkable. It is quite simple and has its own charm. Particularly, it doesn't have that artificial sweetness and attitude that authors often use when they are writing for children.
I use simple words. Construct the sentence in such a way that child could read it without stumbling. You have to understand- which words they might know and when and how to introduce a new word. It is boring when child has to go back and refer earlier sentences to understand the meaning.
But let me make it clear. Simple doesn't mean childish. Don't underestimate the kids. Many people think that if they are writing for kids they have to use childish language.
You have also written for Young Adults. Any specific reason?
I feel that there is not enough literature for young adults in Marathi. That age is very sensitive. Many
more authors should write for young adults.
Your book 'Aunty Jui's Baby' is a story in a typical manner. In the sense, it has a plot – story with beginning, middle and end. On the contrary, 'Daddy's Mo' is not a story in a traditional sense. But children love it. It exercises child's fantasy and imagination. How did you select this unusual topic?
What are the things that kids love of their father? I wanted to avoid routine activities Papa does for the kids. For example, taking them to park, bringing toys and many other things. This Papa is different. He fries Pakodas , knows origam , makes children laugh. Kids have a fascination for moustaches but it has hardly been used as a story topic. Kids love to imagine things around it.
One Papa rang up and told me, "My daughter is fan of this book and made it compulsory for me to grow a moustache!!"
What are you working on next?
It is a story book for 5 to 8 years old. The theme is neighbors. The term neighbor has wider meaning.
Even the Kirana shop keeper near the corner is a neighbor. Want to introduce different type of people