Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Launch of My Brother Tootoo

My Brother Tootoo was released on December 4, 2010, at Landmark, Hyderabad. A group of book lovers gathered to listen to Urmila Mahajan talk about her new book.
Here is ten-year-old Nandini Agrawal's description of the event:
"The book launch was an overwhelming experience at Landmark. The author, Ms Urmila Mahajan read a few pages of the book to give the audience a sense of it. I liked the launch a lot because a short scene from the book was enacted, involving the audience and I got to take part in it too. The book is the story of a young girl and her younger brother Tooto and their adventures.
At the end there was a question and answer session. The author answered questions asked by the audience. It was wonderful to be a part of such an amazing book launch."
The author says: "I enjoyed reading out a few excerpts from the book. We started with the first page, a diary entry by Rini, one of the characters in the story. I say, ‘we’, because my daughter Nandita played the keyboard while I read. I had chosen a few other extracts to read out, to build the atmosphere of the beginning of the story. The parts I didn’t read, I related, obviously only up to a point.
There’s a scene in the book, where Rini, Tootoo and Murli get together in the park. It’s the first time Murli witnesses an imaginative game that brother and sister play – and he wants to join in. Two young friends of mine, Omaiha and Izaan took on the roles of Rini and Tootoo, but since we also needed Murli – we got a volunteer from the audience to enact his part. It was fun. The children hung placards around their necks with the character names on them and they were very expressive!
We also did a dramatic reading to simulate the ambience of the twisty lane, which is a jam-packed, topsy-turvy, noisy street in the story.  I read the narrative and the children’s voices were read once again by Omaiha and Izaan to increasingly loud music on the keyboard. By the end of it, we were yelling our lines over the music. That is exactly what happens on the twisty lane - people have to scream to be heard! After our model reading, we got members of the audience to do all the voices. I don’t think anyone has made such a racket in Landmark before!
The audience was a mixed crowd of children and adults. They asked perceptive questions at the end. Here are a couple that I remember clearly.

Question: What inspired you to write the book?
My answer: I used to wait for an hour outside my daughter’s tuition class and that’s when I started inventing the story – out of boredom. My surroundings are reflected in the description of Mango Tree Lane. There was this interesting house close by. I sketched it one day and wondered who lived there and what their lives were like. That’s how the family in the book began to grow in my mind. If you open My Brother Tootoo to the first page, you’ll find the drawing of that house on the left.
Question: When you said the book is meant for children and adults alike, what did you mean?
My answer: The language is suitable for both and I feel that depending on your age, you will view the story from a different angle.
What I say about the story or how it developed hardly matters. What matters is the impact of the story on readers. When the story begins to take root in the reader’s mind, that’s when it really begins."

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