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My main motto behind the BUTTERFLIES book club for children 6 yrs – 9yrs of age is to expose them to many genres. Children often graduate from Amar Chitra Katha to Harry Potter steering clear of the other wonderful genres available for that age group. Humor, drama, biography, history all are cast aside in this hurry.

To make the club more interesting to this age group, I told the children that we are going to make a book. There will be a theme, some illustrations and some creative writing. When talking about the theme, we pulled some books from my suggested reading book list, read the blurb and placed every story in to a category or theme. ( Do I need to say that humor and adventure were popular and children immediately agreed that they are more likely to try those books?! )

To give them the basics of book making, how to take a theme and make it in to a book and to give the children a peek of what goes on in publishing houses, we had Sandhya Rao of Tulika publishers talk to the children through Skype.

From the time I put the idea across, Tulika and Sandhya were  enthusiastic and this enthusiasm truly translated in the quality of presentation they put together for our children.

Sandhya took our club members through the process of book making using various Tulika books to visually clue them in. She recounted her personal experience, writing her first book for her friend Radhika and how Tulika publishers came to be.

Highlights of the conversation, (NOT quoted verbatim)

Why must the text be musical?(Sandhya was talking about how the book is broken down in to a story board with what goes in to each page, placement, the text and the importance of the text being musical)

The text needs to have a nice rhythm to it. This is very important. When some one reads the book out loud, the audience can enjoy what they hear if the text is musical. Musical text is very catchy. Many of us have heard ‘Why this kolaveri?’ song and liked it? Its because it is catchy.

What is more important in picture books? Pictures or text?

For picture books, both are important. We need to break the story in to parts, decide how the the story is going to be presented. Then we need to decide how the pictures are going to look. In picture books the text and the picture go hand in hand. It is like the picture is going to tell half the story and the picture the rest.

Which is more difficult to make? Picture books or chapter books?

Both are not easy to make. Chapter books, also has pictures, but these pictures are not printed on the pages. As and when one reads a chapter book, the picture forms in the reader’s head. Such must be the style of writing and the plot. The author must use description and capture details so that the text makes up for the absence of visual clues. Many a times, I have read a book and have dreamt in detail about the characters and the situations in the book.

Do you do anything special while translating a book in to another language?

We do a lot of translation at Tulika. When there is a book that is widely loved, we like to take it to other languages. More than the process of translation being difficult, it is important to pick the right person to translate. This person, must not just convert the text from one language to another, but must be able to convey the mood and the context behind the text.

Apart from translating a book and taking it to different languages, we also do books in two languages. These are our bilingual books. One language is English and the other language is the mother tongue, the language spoken at home. This way one language helps the reader understand and read the other language.

How to become a writer? Any tips?

Maintain a journal.
When an idea comes to you immediately write it down.
Don’t worry if it connects to the other things that you have written down.
Just keep taking notes of the things that inspire you, make you laugh, makes you feel.
Then sit down and read what you have written.
May be there is a story in it already!
Daily before going to bed, try writing in detail about something that happened in your life.

Does Tulika have plans to release more books on science?

Yes, Tulika is in the process of coming out with books that incorporate science concepts. The book will be released very soon.

 

Thanks Sandhya, for a wonderful and informative session for our book club members at TreasureHouse.




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