When Annie Besant opened Mala’s Silver Anklets, there were several faces that lit up looking at the deceptively serene first visual. Mala meant mischief and this, they knew well enough, for they’d just acted out the entire story with Annie by their side, smiling as she listened in.
One told the story in a soft but confident voice, one thoroughly enjoyed making the SFX (HISS! BOO! MWAHAHA) and one became the anklet tinkling dutifully. After the reading, a boy picking up Mala, proclaimed to no one in particular, “I want this book!” He promptly got it signed, feeling quite pleased that he didn’t have to maaa-can-i-buy at all.
Amarendran, writer of Siri’s Smile, got his audience to tell the story in their own way, too. Hands flew up and parts were quickly chosen:
“I want to be Siri!” “I want to be the monkey!” “I want to be the fish!” “I want to be Siri’s reflection!”
While enthused parents asked Annie and Amarendran questions, some children were already off to read and look at the books in the other room. “Ay, telugu!” said one girl, grabbing the translation of Siri. Another stood reading Mala and repeating, “Chik-chik-chum.”