Children's books: Bookalore is Bangalore’s first ever Big Little Book Club. It will take books to children and will bring children’s writers together to talk about their work

Do you remember the times when as a child you were awed by the beautiful illustrations and engaging stories in picture books? It seemed like the writer had created magic to ignite your imagination. If you want to revisit those enduring childhood memories, then you must attend Bookalore’s book events. An endeavour of an independent group of children’s writers, illustrators, editors, librarians, teachers and filmmakers, Bookalore will bring the world of books to children and adults alike.

Like an Eclair

Vidya Mani, Poile Sengupta, Shyam Madhavan Sarada, Vimala Malhotra and Roopa Pai speak about Bookalore over endless cups of coffee. “Bookalore is like an Eclair. One bite and we hope children are introduced to the yummy world of chocolate out there in the form of books!” says Vidya Mani, editor of Hoot And Toot, a children’s magazine.

“Bangalore’s Little Book Club” will organise fun-filled events centred around books at libraries, schools, bookshops, art galleries, museums, theatres and other public spaces every month. “We hope to organise many events planned for the year,” says Poile, a children’s writer and award-winning playwright. Vidya adds: “We want to take the event around and reach out to as many children as possible.” Well-known children’s writer Roopa Pai adds: “It is a more formal and regular way of connecting books and authors.”

Bookalore will also introduce children to contemporary Indian and lesser-known international stories. “There’s no point in talking about what children already know,” Vidya explains. The idea for a special book club has been with children’s writer Asha Nehemiah, and author and educational consultant Vijaylakshmi Nagaraj for quite some time. “They had noticed that a fairly large number of children’s writers, illustrators, editors from Bangalore had attended Bookaroo, a book festival, in Delhi last year,” says Vidya. Hence, starting Bookalore seemed only natural.

Vimala, founder of Hippocampus, makes a valid point: “We will also bring on board illustrators.” The importance of illustrators surely cannot be overlooked. “If your page doesn’t look good, you will lose a majority of your readers,” says Vidya. Shyam, the illustrator in the group, says that an illustrator tells stories in a different way. “I avoid literally representing the text.”

Children’s writers in India are not given the recognition they deserve. In most bookstores, children’s books take up a small space in an insignificant corner. Poile has an explanation for this trend. “We don’t really have a history of literature for children.” So, Bookalore will give a platform to well-known and emerging children’s writers. “Children’s writers remain anonymous. We hope to take away this sense of anonymity through this forum. Besides, some writers are not showcased as much as others. We want to bring them on board and put faces to these wonderful writers,” explains Vidya.

Writing for children is challenging. Sentences have to be crisp, yet descriptive and stories and sketches must be written and drawn with precision. Roopa adds that children’s literature is coming of age. She stresses though that “we need quality first and then quantity will emerge”.

Baby steps…

Bookalore will be launched at Hippocampus today from 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be an interactive reading of The Story Of The Road by its author Poile Sengupta; a dramatised reading by children of Natakvalas from Asha Nehemiah’s Meddling Mooli And The Blue-Legged Alien and Meddling Mooli And The Bully On Wheels. Magazine Mazaa with Vidya Mani and Shyam Madhavan will have children put together a magazine. Hippocampus is located at 525, 16 Main, 3 Block, Koramangala. For details call 25630206.