Thursday, October 15, 2015

Talking Gender

A review of Gender Talk - Big Hero, Size Zero by a 15-year-old 

"The book states a lot of facts without hiding anything. The truth is not morphed to make it sound better. That way it is different and more effective than textbooks, because, how much ever text books are supposed to tell the truth, they only touch the basics and in the process not touch upon a lot of things. That leads to us experience stuff on our own, and learn them the hard way.

I am a std X student and I think I know a lot of stuff, because I have 'learnt it via my text books', but I really have not. Only when I read it in this book, that I actually got to know more about a lot of things that are going on around the world, in a factual way. This may or may not be true for adults, but definitely true for adolescents and mid-teens. For example, the book rightly points out that a lot of us, girls think that in the US and other western countries, girls have a lot more freedom and they are treated better than in India. Like, they can wear whatever they want etc., but this book has let me know that they may also be constrained just like us or in other ways that we do not face.

This book talks about a lot of stuff that is told down to us kids by not only our parents, but other adults in the family too and we are expected to abide by them, just because they have been told by the elders. Most of the criticisms and beliefs, are taken and treated like they can't be challenged.This book tells us that they don't have a reason behind most of those and they are saying most of them just because they never thought about questioning their adults. This book taught me that we can challenge those beliefs and not feel guilty like I am speaking against my parent. I don't have to accept things just because they are told by an adult.

This book has helped me realise, that we as in the current teens, who think that we are not as biased as our parents, are actually biased in different ways. It has kind of rubbed off on us as well. We are okay about the male-female-gender-talk, but what about the people who are in between? We too are biased towards them. We think of them as if being born like that is somehow their mistake, when actually this is not true at all. We tease a guy at school, just because he likes another guy. It may be just friendly, still we tease them and it may affect his morale badly. He may not show it outside, but may lead to him being depressed, which may lead to other undesired results.

The Size Zero and the Big Hero concept is so ingrained in our system, that I had not realised that we all are victims of the media. We tease people, just because they are too fat, too thin, skinny, heavy etc, without ever bothering to find out if they are healthy. If they are healthy, why should we bother whether they conform to the norms set by a movie star? This book made me look at our obsession in a new way.
The illustrations in the book make a lot of sense in a not so serious way and makes the book fun to read. They have been done interestingly and at the same time without moving away from the concepts that the book is easily readable, unlike a textbook, in spite of dealing with dry and sometimes not so easy topics. I liked them a lot.

I would recommend this book to all my friends and in fact, make them read it :)"

Saralya P. Narayanan

"The first thing that strikes about the book 'Big Hero, Size Zero' is that it is honest, to the core. There are no biases here, even though it makes the reader acknowledge the biases that are ingrained in his mind.

The book should be slated as the first non-fiction essential that a teen must read. It states all facts as just those... facts. With a child like purpose, the book talks about gender issues, without attaching a whole lot of sentiments.

In a few words, simple, honest, straight forward and a must-read for adolescents, teachers and parents with kids about to become adolescents."

Abirami Narayanan

Monday, August 17, 2015

Growing up with Tulika books

In February last year, I had quit my job just after 7 months of work. I had decided to take a short break to do certain things that really interested me and made me happy. I love being around children and realized that writing short, funny stories for them would be something that I could possibly do. It was during that time that my mother, who had always bought Tulika books for me when I was younger, insisted that I try writing for Tulika. It seemed to me like a great idea – like something that I would definitely be happy doing.  Subsequently, I had also started taking music and French lessons. This gave me a lot of energy, and motivated me to experiment with new ideas.

Tulika has always been a very interesting publisher that has given so many books that I have been reading ever since I was little. I still re-read books like Ekki Dokki, Magic Vessels, Eyes on the Peacock’s Tail, Mazzoo Mazzoo, Suresh and the Sea, Eecha Poocha etc. I also read newer books like Siri’s Smile, Mala’s Silver Anklets, Catch that Cat! and Our Incredible Cow.

The main thing that prompted me to write for Tulika over other publishers was the fact that I felt familiar with the style of writing. In a way it was like coming back home – a comfort zone that I could go back to; the closest I could get to being a child again. Authors and storytellers like Jeeva Raghunath, Sandhya Rao and Vayu Naidu were my favorites.

I remember reading Ekki Dokki as a child one evening and it was the best thing that happened that weekend! I re-read the book and others many times, and my mother read it aloud when I would go to bed (even though I was old enough to read the books at the time, I preferred my mother to read them out to me at bedtime!) Tulika books are perfect for reading out loud – they give the ultimate storytelling experience.

So, having decided to write for Tulika, I thought I could start with something really small – something ‘ant sized’ which would hopefully, over time, turn into something bigger. I began to think of stories where children did mischievous things or small acts of kindness. However, curiosity, as a feeling, is something that children can relate to. We all like small things, and children are almost always picking up small objects around them. I realized that writing a story also meant creating the visuals, and I was as excited about the visuals as I was about the writing. And so, what started out as individual doodles, became a story in itself.

I knew that I wanted to keep the stories simple, as those are the kind of stories that really appeal to me even today. I doodled some more, wrote some more, and, eventually, I mustered up the courage to send some of these stories to Tulika. Soon after that, I joined my present job which I enjoy very much.  

Excatly a year later (February this year), I was pleasantly surprised by a mail from Tulika on publishing ‘the ants’ manuscript! This meant that I was going to be a Tulika author!! My happiness grew by infinite proportions and I was more than excited. Before I knew it, my story, Follow the Ants, was published and translated into 8 Indian languages.

So far, I have absolutely enjoyed the experience of being an author with Tulika – it has still has not sunk in. Be it the storytelling sessions, signing the books, visiting the Tulika bookstore, interacting with the Tulika team - everything has been absolutely brilliant J

I really hope to continue writing small stories that little kids can relate to, and maybe stories that slightly older kids can read as well. Like the ants, I think I too need to continue marching towards things that make me happy - and right now, it is my passion to write and doodle, and try to create something that everyone can enjoy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Meri priya pustak

Readers have enjoyed puzzling out perplexed Paploo’s questions about his upside down world. This neat little review of Kyon Heeroo Hua Hairaan really made our day!