A world of words

A children’s writer has to pay equal attention to plot, characters and tell a story in as engaging a way as possible, and Arundhati Venkatesh has done that so well that all four of her children’s books have received recognition. Junior Kumbhakarna went out of print within a year of publication. It also won the RivoKids Parents and Kids Choice Award last year, for the best book by an Indian author for children till five years of age.

Petu Pumpkin: Tiffin Thief and Petu Pumpkin: Tooth Troubles were on the second and sixth spots in Flipkart’s best of 2014 for children between the ages of five and nine. And her latest Bookasura- The Adventures of Bala and the Book-eating Monster was launched at the Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival in Pune. ”

Before turning to writing, Arundhati worked several years in IT. “I did my engineering in electronics and communications,” she says. “Then I went to London in 2006 and worked on an integration solution for British Petroleum. It was in one of London’s public libraries that I stumbled upon the magical world of picture books. When I returned to India, I wanted to create children’s stories in the Indian context, and that’s when I began to write.”

Junior Kumbhakarna is about a child who loves stories and demands the same one every night- the story of Kumbhakarna, the giant who sleeps for six months, non-stop. The child falls asleep midway, but the story continues…the king’s army has to do all sorts of funny things to rouse the sleeping giant. The next morning, the little boy’s father has just as much trouble waking him up in time for the school bus!”

Petu Pumpkin: Tiffin Thief is about the food-loving Petu Pumpkin who eats his friends’ tiffin. His friends, who call themselves The Awesome Foursome, find ways in which to stop Petu Pumpkin from emptying their tiffin boxes. In Petu Pumpkin: Tooth Troubles, children in the second standard, challenge the fourth standards to a football match. But they don’t have a football, and they have to depend on Petu Pumpkin’s tooth, which he tries to break by eating chikki and murukku. In all this madness, even the tooth fairy gets involved.

In Bookasura Bala, the protagonist, takes the help of Chota Bheem to defeat Bookasura, a book-eating monster who devours Bala’s books. “Bala’s mother keeps telling him, how TV is destroying him. So he uses TV as a weapon to defeat Bookasura. Parents loved it because it is about books firing up the imagination and also made them go down memory lane, a sense of nostalgia they want their children to experience. The book is a fun way of telling children the importance of reading books, without preaching.”

An idea is triggered by something I have seen or read and then develops in my mind, then when I start writing something more is added

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