Choosing winners from the 99 diverse set of stories was a hard task. Thankfully, our main judges came to the rescue! The three judges for this year’s contest were :
Arundhati has published picture books and chapter books with leading publishing houses in India. Her books have won several awards, including the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2015 for India, Middle East and Asia for Petu Pumpkin Tooth Troubles, the Comic Con India 2015 Best Publication for Children award for Bookasura – The Adventures of Bala and the Book-eating Monster and the RivoKids Hindustan Times Parents and Kids Choice Award for Petu Pumpkin TiffinThief and Junior Kumbhakarna. You can find her work at arundhativenkatesh.wordpress.com.
It wasn’t an easy task, and I spent many happy hours going through the entries. The below-16 category was exceptionally enchanting, with their quirky, imaginative story lines. For me, that was the hardest to choose. What gave me a lot of hope was seeing the many narratives that brought together these mosaic of pictures, to talk about issues of farming, conservation, biodiversity and environment protection. Imaginative and thought-provoking, these few pictures were stitched together to tell the story of unpredictable weather and climate change, issues that farmers face in an insightful way. Words together with pictures can be powerful, and RRR reaffirms that fact.
It was a pleasant surprise to see how many different stories people can weave around the same images and more or less the same situations. Even more surprises waited me till I read some of the stories under different categories – a number of stories began with the same image! A good number of stories began with a same scenario e.g. about a drought! Quite a few stories had a folklore type of approach.
For me the process of evaluation was simple – open the entries one by one, read them carefully and see if the images chosen match the story. I put remarks against each story and then after reading through the entire set, gave a ranking. I had to re-read all of them again to give a ranking because by the time you reached the tenth story, the first one wasn’t so clear in your mind. Some stories appeared like their authors had a conference call before writing them! I smiled, read on and wondered how similar we are.
So a few questions arose in my mind: Do similar images propel us to think more or less on the similar lines? Have our brains learnt to interpret similar images in broadly similar ways? If all of us wish to co-exist with the nature around us, then what stops us from living a life of harmony? I don’t know the answers yet, may be after reading many, many more stories, things might get clearer in my mind…or who knows?
There were so many interesting stories to choose from! A good story idea that was both imaginative and coherent, or a fresh approach stood out and made it to the final list.
Congratulations to all the participants. It was a pleasure reading the entries in the under-16 category; the young participants deserve applause. Have fun reading and keep writing!
Below 16 category winner : Sneha Ganesh for ‘The Quest of the Flower Which Died at Sunset’
Arundhati though that the story was an unusual interpretation of the visuals. “Interesting that a story set in contemporary times has the hero going on a journey with people helping him along in his quest – much like a folk tale. Are we making kids jump through hoops in pursuit of the “special flower” – an A+ ?Thoughtprovoking!”, says Arundhati. Bijal loved the story because of the super match between visuals and storytelling. The interesting title hooked Rajesh and he found that the story had interesting turns and suspense.
While Arundhati loved the wicked humour of the story, Bijal thought that it was ‘super storytelling with photos’. Rajesh loved the title and the active use of remixed illustrations. Arundhati also liked the story because of the folktale-ish feel.