Shabnam Minwalla’s The Six Spellmakers Of Dorabji Street is a delightful read for every age group

Shabnam Minwalla’s The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street is an enchanting story set in Cosy Castle, a grey and boxy building in a Colaba neighbourhood, where an adventure unfolds.

Twelve-year-old Nivi Mallik’s new home is one filled with eclectic neighbours, friends and a lovely bimbli tree. But a nasty ploy by the ‘dragon’ and the ‘crone’ make Nivi and her friends resort to some exciting, practical magic.

The idea for The Six Spellmakers Of Dorabji Street came to Shabnam Minwalla at her daughter’s dance class. “One of the teachers scolded the parents telling them their children were not doing as well as they were capable of. It was then that I thought she would make an ideal character in a children’s book,” says Shabnam in a telephonic interview.

But Shabnam, a journalist, and a former Senior Assistant Editor with a leading newspaper, did not initially set out to write a children’s book. “I am a thriller buff and I wanted to write detective fiction at first. So I began writing an adult mystery novel, but the story took on its own shape and form.”

Though The Six Spellmakers… is a children’s book, it will appeal to every age group for the engaging plot, and Shabnam’s beautiful literary style. The book has autobiographical elements: “I grew up in Colaba, which was packed with a colourful mix of people. The building where I lived as a child also had these beautiful bimbli trees. But when I returned from the US after my completing my master’s degree, I saw the trees were cut down! So it seemed natural to make the cutting down of the bimbli trees as a point of conflict. ”

On the very first look, The Six Spellmakers…looks irresistible for its beautiful cover design and illustrations by Svabhu Kohli. Reading the book is indeed magical. The characters, from 12-year-old Nivi Mallik, her brother Nikhil, to Sarita aka ‘Saritafal’, ‘Genyuss boy’ Venu and the difficult Mrs. Braganza, are so real that you wonder at Shabnam’s skill of characterisation.

“Before writing the book, I drew a sketch of the building and of the residents of every flat. I also wrote a detailed biography of each of the characters,” she explains.

Shabnam has received positive responses for her book. She recalls how her daughter’s friend came up to her and said, “The Six Spellmakers… is my second favourite book!” Shabnam laughs.

Shabnam’s elder daughter loved the book. “She is an avid reader. So I was thrilled when she liked the book!”

The Six Spellmakers Of Dorabji Street has been published by Hachette and is priced at Rs. 250.