On May 7-8, ’11 DPS Srinagar Athwajan was rocked to its foundations by a book-quake!Chubby-cheeked beautiful children raced from one venue to another trying to catch the evanescent vapour of excitement. Yes, Bookaroo, the zingy, zesty litfest for children had made its way to Srinagar, a new city thirsting for good news, a new city which welcomed Bookaroo with a hug as warm as the finest pashmina.On the invitation of the DPS run by the DP Dhar Memorial Trust, Bookaroo travelled to Kashmir with a band of over twenty authors and illustrators for this two day festival. Other local schools also sent their children to check out what the excitement was all about and they were not disappointed.More than 6000 children attended the various sessions with authors, illustrators and storytellers. They laughed and danced with Jeeva Raghunath, the talented storyteller from Chennai and sang along with Arjun Kaul, the young rock-star with the guitar.They got their hands all sticky as they learnt the most amazing paper craft with Sachin George Sebastian and they drew in droves on the inviting white expanse of the Doodle Wall.Never have our authors had to sign so many autographs even though most of the children had not read their books. However, they were enthusiastic and eager to know more and this was their first exposure to the range of books and writing for children happening in India today.In a region that has been a hot spot for conflict between Pakistan and India and a population caught between violence and a huge army presence, it is the children who are paying a huge price of the loss of ‘normalcy. Even simple pleasures of reading, sports and other cultural events for children are a rarity. Bookaroo and the buzz it generated gives reason for hope as all the people who participated-the authors, the hosts and the children vowed and wowed to come back for more.
Ramendra Kumar, the author of our upcoming book ‘Paplu the Giant’, calls his Bookaroo experience a ‘Paradise in Jannat’. You can read about his Bookaroo experience here.]