Tell your tale

All your own  

Have you seen a book read? A clock sleep? A crow cook? Pick up Arthi Anand Navaneeth’s Have You Seen This?, published by Tulika, to be witness to many such zany, fun possibilities. Each page has a colourful illustration accompanied by a single catchy line, from which a child can spin one’s own story. “Each of these can be a story of its own. I once had a child ask me, ‘will you make each of these a particular story?’” says Arthi.

Arthi has had reading sessions of her book in Hippocampus, Easy Lib and Atta Galata in Bangalore and mCubed in Mumbai.

Her most memorable session, though, was in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.

“It was organised by Bakul, a group of volunteers who have made a space for underprivileged children side-by-side other kids to read. As I didn’t know the language, they had an interpreter. After a point, I was able to communicate with the kids because they understood everything. The book spoke to them.”

Arthi chose to write the book in simple English. “The book is bilingual and communicates across different languages. The whole idea is to introduce a new language. After reading this, my daughter developed an interest in Hindi, and a friend’s child, in Kannada”

Arthi’s day job is at a fragrance company, which she says “engages the senses in a way”, but storytelling and kids engage her whole being in another way.

Why is children’s writing in India not given the recognition it deserves? Arthi says: “We have so many stories and we keep lamenting that there aren’t enough children’s stories. Every Indian is a storyteller because we all like to talk, so there is no dearth of stories! Instead of bothering about spaces that aren’t doing enough to promote children’s writing, let’s focus on spaces that are.”

Arthi started writing her blog Art’s Tales, after her first book was published. The blog chronicles interesting storytelling workshops with kids in different spaces. She speaks about her volunteer work with Anand Vidyalaya, an NGO, for Ejipura kids. “It is one of the most rewarding experiences. The children are so enthusiastic. We mostly conduct sessions that involve storytelling, which I do, and art and craft.”

The conversation veers towards another of Arthi’s delightful stories, Mister Muthu. “The series began in my blog before it was taken up by Chandamama. Many readers subscribed to it, even from America. I had readers from Sikkim suggest what Muthu would do next.”

Arthi says that not every writer is a good storyteller and not every good storyteller is an exceptional writer. “I am among the very few who likes Chetan Bhagat and Amisha Tripathi. They may not be good writers, but they have great stories to tell. There are so many stories waiting to be told.”

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 9:10:52 AM |

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