The Magical World of Books : Aviva Young Scholar Bookaroo 2009

Manisha Chaudhry, Head of content development- Pratham Books, writes about the magical atmosphere of Aviva Young Scholar Bookaroo 2009.

Have you ever heard the pitter-patter of little feet multiplied and multiplied and MULTIPLIED till it became a GRAND THUMPING CHORUS? WELL, THAT IS WHAT AVIVA YOUNG SCHOLAR BOOKAROO 2009 (Nov 28-29th), at Sanskriti Kendra was all about. They came tumbling in, in all sizes, shapes and colours, paused under the smiling BANYAN and then made some serious choices.

Now, should I go to the AMPHITHEATRE and peek through a window of a storytelling house with NINA SABNANI or should I stay under the BANYAN and listen to some mad stories and poems with SAMPURNA CHATTERJI? Or will it be the DOODLE WALL with Alison Lester who has come all the way from Australia to draw with me?And, as these serious choices were being made, parents stood around with furrowed brows helping to make ‘worthy’ choices. But you know what, slowly the magic of Bookaroo stole over them and all choices were worthy.

With over 13 beautiful venues in happy contiguity with the most book-and-children-loving authors and illustrators waiting to read, draw, talk, share and smile with the children, there was a plethora of choices for each age group.

Between Children’s Day-Nov 14 and Nov 27th school children in 12 different locations had enjoyed BOOKAROO in the CITY with loads of fun storytelling and drawing activities.

All this book fun added up to a mind-boggling 77 events done in English and Hindi/Hindustani with authors from around the world weaving book magic with more than 7000 children.

But finally, it is not about the numbers. It is about the several moments of shared joy. It is about Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain bringing the lost art of Dastaangoi to a whole new generation of listeners as they told stories in Hindustani about Amir Hamza and his sharp friend Amar Ayyaar who also had a ‘gilim’ under which he could disappear…shades of Harry Potter anyone? It was about being a part of a once in a lifetime experience where each performance of a Dastaan is unique.

It was about Muriel Bloch from France telling a West African story in French accented English being helped by the audience when she said ‘smell’ instead of ‘melt’ and she quickly saying, “As she melted, she smelled…”. She was an arresting image with her mop of red hair, her long cloak and her wonderfully mobile face as she told her fantastic tales.

It was about a mother settling down on the grass to read to three chidren from a book they had just bought.
It was about a bunch of very bright children who attended wildlife biologist and author Pranav Trivedi’s session on Nono, the snow leopard as he showed pictures of its habitat.As Pranav talked about the snow leopard and life in Spiti, another author asked, “how can we have your life?”

Children who listened to “Raja Nang Dhadanga Hai?” being read by Swagata Pillai hung on to every word and parents laughed loudly as the wonderful rendition in Hindustani progressed. Many pitter-patters to the bookshop after this…

It was a festival to remember. Sun lit, green grassed, heaped with stories of its own. Warm and precious. Until next year.

You can see some pictures of our events here. Found Vasu..‘s Flickr photostream which also has some splendid photographs from the event.


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