One would have been excused for thinking that the crowd outside the closed doors was waiting to get into a cinema hall in a multiplex! One wouldn't be wrong for the children and parents who came to meet the frog that climbed over the mountain, at the Bangalore Literature Festival 2015, actually got to see an excellent pictorial slice of life in the Western Ghats. Frogs the size of a fingertip, frogs who looked like a slimy mass of purple earth, frogs with incredible patterns on their bodies and frogs with beautiful eyes. As the audience went aww and wow in adulation, the hero of the show was a little tree frog called Philautus.
Kartik Shanker, author of 'The Adventures of Philautus Frog' started the children's session with a song, The bear went over the mountain...And what did he see? The other side of the mountain, of course. Like the bear in the rhyme, Kartik said when he set out to write a book about a tree frog, he imagined the little fellow going over a mountain in the Western Ghats, and meeting various interesting animals. A professor of ecology at the Indian Institute of Science, Kartik and his group of fellow researchers have explored the Western Ghats and other biodiversity regions and come back with an immense body of work. They also have astonishing footage of wildlife, including frogs and that is what biogeographer Vijay showed to the kids.
Biogeographer Vijay who studies animals like snakes and frogs and turtles believes strongly that biology is closely connected to the place or geography in which they live. Biogeographers study species and their distribution in different ecosystems and through different time periods. Vijay projected pictures of different kinds of frogs and explained in a very simple fashion how they evolved. He also shared recordings of frog calls in the wild.
Smitha Shivaswamy and her team of illustrators from Pencil Jam added art activity to the session. She told children about nature journalling, and the enthusiastic kids took to it quite easily as Kartik Shanker answered questions and Vijay showed them pictures.
Language was hardly a barrier for some children of migrant workers, who also enjoyed drawing frogs and viewing the frog show.
Kids who managed to get copies of the book at the Atta Galatta store next door got them autographed by the author.
While literature got somewhat hijacked by politics and controversies at this year's Bangalore Literature Festival, thankfully, the children's section remained rooted to its agenda of sharing the joy of books with kids. They got a taste of literature and the art and craft of storytelling and writing, through sessions like storytelling, puppetry, writng workshops and illustration workshops.
Pratham Books would like to thank Bangalore Literature Festival for hosting the session, and Kartik for writing this book inspired by - if you haven't guessed it yet - The Adventures of Phileas Fogg, the one who went around the world in eighty days. Thanks too to Kartik, Vijay, Smitha (and her team of George, Aditya and Mubarrah) for doing such an awesome job there!