A children's book-reading where everyone got catty on World Book Day

Little black and white cats sat around the floor of Hippocampus, while 21-year-old Alankrita, the author and illustrator of the kiddie book “Miaow” joined them. To get her tiny three-plus readers into the spirit of the reading, Alankrita asked the kids if they would like to be black or white cats. Most of the girls wanted to be white cats and the boys black. And to look like the cat in “Miaow”, they were given ears to tie across their foreheads.

“Close your eyes and imagine two pointy ears on your head, and three whiskers sprouting out of your cheeks and a long tail behind you. Now you are a cat, a black or a white cat,” said Alankrita and over a dozen pairs of obedient eyes, were closed.

Then little slips were given to the children to write down their names and add an adjective to them. “I am ‘awesome Alankrita', now lets see what great names you can think up for yourselves,” said Alankrita, encouraging them to think and get creative. In seconds there was a ‘precious' Pooja, an ‘active' Aran and an ‘adorable' Anushka showing off their names and making friends among the group.

The event was part of the World Book Day celebrations at Hippocampus Children's Experience Centre, in Koramangala. Chatting with Alankrita before the event, she explained that “Miaow” is bilingual and has been published in nine other languages besides English. “The entire book is my work, including the illustrations and the story. Initially I did an animation course and then deviated into illustration.” As she was walking to college one day, a black cat crossed her path. “My mum always told me that was bad luck and I don't believe that. Poor things, what can they do?” she asks with a rueful smile. Initially she just worked a poem on a cat for her blog and put it up with an illustration. It was quite by chance that she sent her manuscript to Tulika Books and was floored when they accepted it immediately, as she had only just worked on the concept for fun.

Copies of the books were given out to all the kiddies present and then Alankrita read it aloud for them. Aditi Kulothungan the manager of the experience centre said they had a summer reading list and it was amazing how the kids used that to select their books. “We have one up for every month and most often have a waiting list for the books on list.”For details on the events planned for the holiday season contact Hippocampus Children's Experience Centre, Koramangala, on 25630206