Reviews

For the world’s most valuable resource

On the occasion of Children’s Day, we take a look at Kannada novels that are being written for children. They are not only interesting but also engaging in terms of language and style

Considering children’s novels in Kannada from any perspective is problematic because of the several complex issues involved in its creation and consumption. It is to be noted that children’s literature is not created by children and obviously not necessarily read by children alone. It is an adult art which is created with the basic understanding that children are its main readers. Thus the adult creator, who has to be experientially a child, has to make a few of assumptions while writing anything for children in terms of language, theme and structure. It is interesting to note that though Kannada children’s literature is formed out of rich contributions made by eminent writers, right from Kuvempu, Rajaratnam to contemporary senior writers like K.V. Tirumalesh, Lakshminaryana Bhatta, H.S. Venkateshamurthy and others, novels exclusively written for children is rather conspicuous by its rarity. One probable reason for this could be that most of the Kannada writers seem to believe that it is difficult to hold the attention of children for a long time and thus brief forms of creative expressions are more appropriate for enhancing their pleasure of reading.

The novels of contemporary writers like Mattur Subbanna, Basu Bevina Gidada, Tammanna Beegara, Ganesh P.Nadora, Vijayashree Haladi and others offer not only plausible answers to the issues raised above but also a good reading experience to children. Each one of their novels is distinct in terms of location, theme and use of language.

Vijayashree Haladi’s Surakki Gate is an extremely simple novel about a happy family consisting of Putta, a boy studying in a school, a well informed mother, an empathetic father, grandparents and a group of pets, mainly cats. The vivid experiences in the farm house borne out of various activities well organized by the mother, bring together all people in the family very close to nature. The need for loving human beings, pets, flora and fauna around us is what the novel purports to say in the end.

For the world’s most valuable resource

Ganesh P. Nadora’s Ata is a novel which has a deviant theme. The structure of the novel is also slightly unusual. The novel is a first person narrative of a four and half a year old, LKG kid, Tanmayi. She has an younger sister, Adithi, with whom, as a kid, she has both love-hate relationship. She loves her, envies her, pampers her and also plays pranks on her so that her parents bash her up. Her dear parents and an uncle, “Doddappa”, grandparents, uncles and aunts are all different parts of her childhood experiences. The child can recall how she was born in a hospital on an inauspicious day (Amavasye), and in spite of that she has been liked by all around her. She even recalls how she cried as a newly born child when her drunken grandfather kissed her. The novel gives an unique experience of reading about a growing mind.

Tamanna Beegara’s Bavali Guhe deals with an adventurous story of a few nature loving children who are awe struck by the entry of a huge JCB to their village which could demolish anything and everything around them including a banyan tree under which they were playing all along. Children’s love for their village make them join their elders in their protest against large scale mining in their village and stop it cleverly by exploring an ancient relic called Bahubali, in the cave of their village.

Basu Bevinagida’s Odihoda Huduga is perhaps the most complex of the five novels discussed here. Mayekar Gajya, the young hyperactive boy of the village called Mallur, steals the readers’ hearts at once. He is always found with his old bicycle moving around the village right from very early morning to late in the evening waking up friends, distributing milk to every house of the village and keeping an account of it, doing every little thing at home and at his father’s village eatery. He is an apple of the eye of all the mothers in the village but envied strongly by many of his classmates. He is also creatively engaged in teaching bicycle riding, cart riding and repairing carts for all willing boys of the village. There is an oldman, Ajja, who is always found sharing his wisdom with young children in general and Gajya in particular. The climax of the story is that Gajya and Ajja disappear from the village and their whereabouts are not known to anyone. The villagers go around searching for them. After a couple of days, they come back to the village with Gajya as a film actor in a children’s film, which is still under production. Most of the children of the village also become actors in the same film. The novel ends with excitement everywhere. The rustic nature of the villagers and the simplicity that is borne out of that are the hallmarks of the novel.

For the world’s most valuable resource

Aa 36 Ghantegalu, is a children’s thriller authored by Mattur Subbanna, who is well known for his sci-Fi, Amshu, Anu Mattu Robo. A group of young boys consisting of Chandru, Gopi, Velu, Suri and others, when they are playing cricket match in their village, Mutthalli, on a Saturday, hear about a monkey player (Manganaatadava), Raja, who is performing with his monkey in the frontyard of the village temple. Eventually, out of sheer curiosity, they all go there and enjoy the different pranks of the monkey. They also observe certain queer things happening during the performance. However, to the dismay of all in the village, the very next morning, the precious and sacred idols of the temple are found stolen. Obviously, they all suspect the hand of the monkey player in it. The village boys with the help of the monkey and the local police would be able to nab all the culprits and get back the idols to the temple. The story, like any contrived thriller, has many surprises. The events that happen during the 36 hours in the story are engaging and they can certainly capture the imagination of children.

The five novels exhibit five distinct trends in the art of novel writing for children. Each one has a particular geographical location in Karnataka and thus the story telling is in the region specific dialect. But the dialectal variations do not pose comprehension problems. The episodic narration which is adapted in all the novels has lightened the children’s burden of reading long narratives. If we can consider these five novels as representatives of contemporary children’s novels in Kannada, we can certainly feel proud of them, for their variety, vitality and rigour.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 11:19:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/for-the-worlds-most-valuable-resource/article29973065.ece

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