Tripping over Timbuktoo

Aparna Raman’s Timbuktoo publishes young authors who write for kids their age. Out with an anthology of their 2014 stories, here’s a peek into how and why young authors think, play and write

December 19, 2014 01:59 pm | Updated 01:59 pm IST

From the pens of children. Photo: Murali Kumar K.

From the pens of children. Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Sahaat Poddar, Devrata Morarka, and Rahul Singh Manglorkar are huddled around a tablet, playing Minecraft, sitting on the floor of Lightroom Bookstore, tucked away in a quiet corner of Bengaluru’s Cooke Town. They are excitedly discussing manoeuvres and talking of cloning, and barely take their eyes off the game as they discuss their ‘work’.

Yes, work. Welcome to the world of really young authors. And when I say really young, I mean it. These guys aged 9, 10 and 11 are at the launch and reading of their debut book Whackylicious - Timbuktoo Young Author’s Anthology 2014 . And mind you, the youngest author is six.

Timbuktoo was started by Aparna Raman as a publishing house of young authors for young readers. A creative professional in advertising and design, Aparna is an alumnus of London’s British Design & Art Direction programme and has studied screenwriting in California. She is also a Kathalaya-certified storyteller.

When her son, Rohan, created his first comic strip series as a seven year old, with a superhero named Captain Pooky who battled hamsters, evil scientists, robots, aliens and skeletons, Aparna decided this is where she wanted to be — in Timbuktoo — that exotic land of a child’s imagination.

“There are enough and more people publishing adult writers for children. I really believe that no adult writer could have come up with these ideas. There are certain things we are not capable of, as adults. I think you should catch the ideas when they are young,” says Aparna. Soon ‘Aparna aunty’ became central to the life of many children who went to her weekend creative workshops.

Sahaat’s beautiful eyes light up when he speaks of his story Jordan & I – A Basketball Mystery . “I’m a huge fan of basketball. Michael Jordan is my hero. The story is of Jordan and I being in one team. When I started off, I was very clear that I can’t write about anything complicated. I can’t write about animals. I can write on sports and on space. Aparna aunty suggested that I write a mystery on sports. And I had seen a mystery movie recently, so I combined that with basketball…” And does he write every day? “No. I have homework or some class or the other, so I don’t have time.”

Suhani Rathi, 11, is the author of The Saphire Thief . “I started writing proper stories for school about three years ago, to show my teacher. I wanted the sapphire to be central to my story because people only pay attention to gold, silver and diamonds. My story is about a person who wants to steal this sapphire in London, and then there’s a black market dealer…” Suhani rattles off the complex plot of her story. “I feel special. Even my school’s vice principal has read my story!”

Rahul, never taking his eyes off the game he’s playing, tells me how his story How The Earth Got Its Elements was originally about colours in its first draft. “But I thought it was not interesting enough, and it was way too complicated.” His friend Devrata, author of The Day I could Only Speak in Rhyme , pipes in: “He re-wrote his own story!” Devrata and Rahul were on a playdate when they bumped into another classmate who told them about this creative writing class.

Rahul’s teacher gave him the idea for the story and he’s been into creative writing for the last six months. “It’s like a good thing to do,” he declares. “And to tell every one…it’s pretty cool,” he concludes.

The children who feature in the book, with a story and a poem each, also include Aadit Ponnappa: The ghost who liked apples, Aayra Walia: If I were a bunny, Aaroshi Rao: Sorcerer in the family, Devaarsh Mehta: How colour came to the world, Dhruv Rangaraj: The speeding galaxy, Ditya Das: The crocodile who went shopping, Drishan Poddar: Where do aches go when they’re gone?, Hiba Shaikh: Magic mountain, Ishanvi Dandu: If yellow was a letter, Saakshi Birla: Why planets circle the sun, and Vir Shanmugam: One day I peeled a banana and inside was a fish.

The book is priced Rs. 500. For details look up www.timbuktoopublishing.com.

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