Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tulika at Bookaroo 2011

Writer and editor Sandhya Rao talks about Indian dinostars, Stone Eggs and the lifelike dino robot that got everyone's attention at Helen Rundgren's session, while writer Swetha Prakash who took Padma to space and to Bookaroo 2011 shares her notes.

Dino Delights 

A chip of fossilized dinosaur eggshell, a tiny piece of dino bone, a real – and sharp! – billions of years old tooth still good for a sharp nick … what more could dino lovers and others have asked for? Kids and others got to touch and feel dino ‘items’ and find out all about Indian dinosaurs thanks to Helen Rundgren’s book with Tulika, Stone Eggs: A Story of Indian Dinosaurs at Bookaroo children’s literature festival in Delhi this past week. 

And yes, she was there too, having flown down from Stockholm especially to participate in Bookaroo. Armed with bananas, an Afghan melon, and her precious dino treasures… what were the bananas for you ask? Well, said Helen, that’s to show how big the T Rex’s teeth may have been. And the Afghan melon? That’s how big and sort of heavy a dino egg might have been. Not bigger? someone asked. Even an ostrich lays eggs almost this big. No, said Helen, because the bigger the egg, the thicker the shell and the more difficult it would be for the little one to emerge. Hmm, something to think about. Also, she pointed out, the thicker the shell, the less porous it will be…. Little ones survive inside eggs because the porous shell allows them to breathe. Hmm, something else to think about.

Children had plenty to think about and guess at, at both of Helen’s sessions at Bookaroo on November 25th, and November 27th, during which it became clear that dinosaurs didn’t just roam somewhere else, but in India as well. In fact, said Helen, we had no dinos in Sweden! But in India there is the Indosuchus raptorius, the Barapasaurus tagorei, the Kotasaurus yamanpalliensis and the king of them all, the Rajasaurus narmadensis… So, feel proud, friends, of your dinosorian past and know that lots of dino egg fossils have been found especially in western, central and south India. Helen threw in a quiz with everyone winning prizes: a lovely poster of the Indian dinostars and tiny dino figurines.

But the star of the sessions was Helen’s nearly real live dino robot pet who completely had everybody mesmerized. Children crowded to watch the dinobot move, blink and pick up stuff from the floor but when they rushed to pet her, she shrank nervously into mama Helen’s dino t-shirt… 

Padma Goes to Bookaroo

Writing has its centre in silence and solitude, whereas the festivals are an unabashed celebration of life. Writing festivals are thus very remarkable, very mysterious. Now just make that a children's literary festival…

For children every moment in time is there just for the moment. They will settle down and be tranquil, with a tranquility that cannot be articulated and yet be perfectly lively all the time. Alive, the way we often forget to be.

The young persons, all well-uniformed, are seated evenly in a line. You are reading and asking some questions. Time passes. Are you narrating to them, or are they narrating to you? Is the text they compose with their innocent and often absurd responses, serene self-command, and joyous disinterest (we are here because our teacher/parent is also here) so much more intelligent and sophisticated than anything you could come up with? 

So, in the end, you’re sort of stuck with being— less speech, more child. Thank you Tulika, thank you Sandhya, thank you Jo, thank you Swati, thank you Shreya and thank you all for providing this amazing text and context.

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