Butterfingers, a.k.a. Amar Kishen, is at the crease again, all set for a new game of unmatched fun, thrills and spills. City-based Puffin author Khyrunnisa A. takes us on a new adventure with Amar and his irreprehensible friends Kishore, Kiran, Jayaram, Eric and Thomas in Clean Bowled Butterfingers! , the third novel in the Butterfingers series, which releases later this month.
In the meantime, Butterfingers and his classmates in Green Park Higher Secondary School have been busy, winning friends all across the globe with his clumsiness and harebrained schemes that always help him come out on top. As the Butterfingers novels went into reprints, Khyrunnisa felt it was time for some action. At her quiet, book-lined home near Pattoor, Khyrunnisa began working on a novel that had Butterfingers smashing aces and serving a different set of adventures. “After I had completed two chapters, the publishers wanted me to work on a novel that centred on cricket. So I had to begin afresh,” says the author.
Not a tall task for the author who knows exactly what to serve her readers and legion of fans. So she went back to the computer to create a fresh plot for Butterfingers. This time around, the teenagers plan to organise a match to pay homage to the memory of Colonel Nadkarni. But (there is always a ‘but’ in the case of Butterfingers) there is a mix-up and a proposal for a match for the teachers finds it way to the Principal’s table and that is when the game begins.
“The teachers are not pleased when they find that they are expected to play a match while the students are unhappy when they find their proposed match slipping out of their hands. Butterfingers strikes again in his usual fashion,” she says with a dimpled smile as she talks about her favourite character, named after her son Amar, now an engineer in the United States.
However, Butterfingers and his friends have not aged, physically or mentally. They are still in class eight and are merrily having fun.
“If Howzzat Butterfingers! is spread over five months, the events in Goal, Butterfingers! covers about four weeks while Clean Bowled, Butterfingers! takes place in less than three weeks. So the teenagers are still in class eight,” she explains with a smile.
One of the very few children’s authors in India, if not the only one, who has come up with a win-win combination of school students and sports, Khyrunnisa says it was serendipity that helped her create a series that centred on sports. The youngest of nine siblings, she hails from a sports loving family and is a keen follower of cricket, tennis and football. So while participating in a short story contest conducted by Tinkle, she sent in a story about Butterfingers and his exploits inside and outside school.
“Since there was so little written about sports, I decided to write a story about a cricket match. That story won a prize and, in fact, for my first novel, Howzzat Butterfingers! , I went back to that story, expanded it and created more characters,” she points out.
However, Clean Bowled is a completely new story that does not hark back to the jolly teenager’s previous (mis)adventures. “Like my previous novels, it is all about school, friendship, sports and fun,” says the author. During reading sessions at various places in the country, she has often been asked if there is a moral in her story. She wonders why every story has to have a moral. In fact, it is the total absence of preaching that makes Butterfingers such a delightful read. Although the book touches upon the need to protect the ecology, and upholds ethics and values, at the end of the day, Butterfingers promises to take the reader on a fun-filled ride.
“It is true that my books paint an idealistic picture of school but that is the way I want to be. So there is bullying and unfair tactics mentioned somewhere in the background but that is never the focus of the book. It is all about the fun time the teenagers have in school,” she adds.
Goal, Butterfingers! was adapted for the stage by a group of young readers. However, the popular series has not yet been translated into Malayalam.
Khyrunnisa says she would love to see her book in Malayalam provided the translation captures the core of the crazy and amusing world of Butterfingers and his friends. In fact, there was even a proposal for a film in English by a well-known director’s son.
While all that takes place on the sidelines, Khyrunnisa is already thinking of new adventures for Butterfingers and co. to bowl his readers over with his mix of madness, intrigues and fun.
* “An exuberant mix of school, cricket and fun that bowled me over and kept me laughing from beginning to end,” remarks VVS Laxman on the cover of Clean Bowled Butterfingers!
* Khyrunnisa treasures a letter that the late MAK Pataudi wrote to her. He says how much he enjoyed reading about the antics of Butterfingers and goes on to write that he would pass on the books to his grandchildren.
* The author hopes to publish a collection of short stories featuring Butterfingers.
*And does she have a specific time when the muse visits her to help her in plotting yet another adventure for Butterfingers? “Not really. I have a book in which I jot down ideas and plots. Then I sit down in front of the computer and start writing”.