promised you amazing stories every Tuesday this September as part
of StoryWeaver’s ‘Weave-a-Story’ campaign and here we are, all set to
brighten your day. This week, we have a witty
and heartwarming story about little Ammu who is eager, SO eager to
have a puppy. Written
by Sowmya Rajendran and illustrated by Soumya Menon, ‘Ammu’s Puppy’ makes for a perfect read-aloud book. You can read it right here.
In the past, Sowmya Rajendran’s
been published by
multiple publishers such as
Pratham Books, Tulika Publishers, HarperCollins, Puffin, etc. This
year, she won the Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar
award for ‘Mayil Will Not Be Quiet’ which she co-authored with
short conversation between the StoryWeaver team and Sowmya Rajendran,
the author of ‘Ammu’s Puppy’.
We’re so thrilled that
‘Ammu’s Puppy’ is up on StoryWeaver. How did this story take shape
a friend of mine who got a dog. But she had to give him away in a
couple of days because her folks were unable to take care of him.
However, she regaled us with stories about that dog for many weeks,
pretending that she still had him at home! I see my four-year-old
daughter now, making up similar stories, and the story flew out of
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.
voice now. I’ve experimented with different genres too and I work
harder to see how much further I can take an idea. I also believe
becoming a mother has given me greater insight into a child’s
perspective of things.
What do you think we could do
– as a large community of people who care about reading – to ensure
that reading becomes a more inclusive experience for children in
India and around the world?
issues here – one is the visibility of good children’s books and the
other is accessibility. Indian children’s books, especially, are
barely available in the big bookstores towards which parents and
children who can afford to buy these books flock. This is the case
with English books, so you can imagine how acute the problem is when
it comes to books that are in regional languages. A children’s book
that becomes an international phenomenon like Harry Potter or The
Hunger Games will find readers but there is so much more on offer of
which readers are unaware. And then, of course, a lot of people
simply don’t have access to books that are in languages they can read
big hurry to finish the syllabus and rarely spend time encouraging
students to read outside their textbooks. And parents, too, see
non-textbooks as a ‘waste’. Adults, who control book purchasing,
should first be convinced of the value of reading. Schools,
librarians, teachers, and parents should get involved if they want
their children to become readers. Community libraries, affordable and
well-produced books in different languages, and innovative efforts
like Storyweaver are a step in the right direction.
You’ve written stories for
early readers, teenagers and very recently, you published a novel
(‘The Lesson’) for adults. Tell us a little about what it is like to
write for all these different age groups.
audience in mind. I let the idea lead me and as I go along, I decide
who the reader is going to be. This is probably why I have ended up
writing for all age-groups! And exploring some taboo subjects in my
writing for younger ones, too. I find it restricting to have an
imaginary reader breathing down my neck all the time.
Do you think it’s important
for children’s book authors to engage with children?
constantly treat children as another species altogether. I’m
flummoxed when people ask me ‘Do you like children?’ as if a child
were a dog or a parakeet! They are people, just as adults are. I like
some of them and I don’t like some of them. I engage with the ones I
like and get away with making the right noises with the ones I don’t.
But just as I learn from the adults around me, irrespective of
whether I like them or not, I learn from children, too.
What do you do and where do
you go when you desperately need inspiration to write? Yes, we’re
asking you to spill your secrets.
and I write when my daughter goes to school. I don’t believe in
inspiration. I believe in slogging it out in front of my laptop with
the mortal fear that in just two and a half hours, a four-year-old
will come home and slam my laptop shut for the rest of the day. So I
write as fast as I can, as much as I can. I definitely do not sit in
a fancy cafe in all elegance and work every day (although I do drink