We had a little chat with Sowmya Rajendran, about her book, The Weightlifting Princess ahead of it being read to thousands of children on World Literacy Day, and here’s what she had to share:
Pratham Books: Any particular reason behind situating the story in an olden day/ mythical kingdom setting?
Sowmya: We wanted to make a princess story and it made sense to set it in a mythical kingdom from the past. If Nila were a princess now, she would be marching on the streets asking for an end to monarchy and instituting democracy!
Pratham Books: Thoughts on re-writing narratives on gender through children’s picture books?
Sowmya: Gender is the result of socio-cultural conditioning. The earlier you’re able to understand this, the better. Exposing children to narratives that don’t conform to gender norms is one way of getting them to think beyond gender binaries and abilities limited by these. So, I find it very important to break the mould in my books.
Pratham Books: What would you like the children to ‘take home’ from the book?
Sowmya: Eat well, play in the sun, and don’t let anyone tell you that you must settle for second best.
Pratham Books: What’s on Princess Nila’s agenda post the championship?
Sowmya: Nila is going to the sports school in Taibar. She has some years to go before she becomes a world class athlete. After that, who knows what she wants to do? The possibilities are infinite.
Registrations for One Day, One Story are still open! Click here to register as an individual reading champion, and here to register your organisation.
Sowmya Rajendran has written books for children of all age groups, from picture books for the very young to young adult fiction. She was awarded the Bal Sahitya Puraskar for her novel Mayil Will Not Be Quiet in 2015. Sowmya currently works with The News Minute, writing on gender, culture, and cinema. She lives in Pune.