Bookaroo’s 8th edition to focus on Bangla children’s literature

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) The much-awaited Bookaroo children’s literature festival is back in the city with an exciting repertoire. In its eighth edition, the festival will have a special focus on regional children’s literature from this year. The festival, scheduled to begin November 28, will have 101 sessions over two days with 60 speakers from 10 countries.

According to organisers, the festival this year will have a special focus on Bangla children’s literature. The highlight would be indigenous storytelling, folk art and craft and book art from Bengal. From Patua to Suppandi, Satyajit Ray to Lewis Carroll, rock faces to kitchen gardens, stories about sleuths to those about tricksters, stitching to collage making, children can look forward to an unlimited fare this time.

The festival will have a distinguished line-up of speakers from Australia, Britain, France, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Singapore – and, of course, India.

This year’s writers list boasts of Anushka Ravishankar, Anupa Lal, Annie Besant, Ranjit Lal Katarina Genar, Martin Widmark, Payal Kapadia, and Subhadra Sen Gupta among others.

Ravishankar has been associated with the festival since its inception and has seen how the interest and participation has grown over the years.

“For me, it is a great experience to associate with the festival. We realised that there is a need for such a platform and children are hungry for such festivals which connect them with books and literature,” said Ravishankar, who is the author of popular books such as “Catch That Crocodile” and “Excuse Me! Is this India?”

The author also expressed concern that despite Bookaroo’s popularity among children and parents, funds are difficult to come by. “It’s a pity that there is no financial support for festivals like these. The availability of a venue is also a problem. The organisers are running it against all odds,” she added.

It’s in Bengali and Marathi that the largest body of regional literature for children is being produced and read, Ravishankar pointed out. So no prize for guessing the reason for giving the special focus on Bangla literature, she added.

Sampurna Chattarji, another children’s author, who has been associated with the festival from the beginning, will be introducing English translations of renowned Bengal poet Sukumar Ray. “Sukumar Ray is a much loved poet in Kolkata. The English translations will help those who don’t have an opportunity to read his works,” said Chattarji.

Apart from the stellar line-up of writers, the festival will have from storytelling to craft to doodles to performances to entertain children.

There will be a lot of theatre by the likes of Bikram Ghosh, founder of the Tadpole Repertory theatre group, Parnab Mukherjee, Santanil Ganguly and Vanessa Ohri. Performers like Boori Monty Pryor, an accomplished Australian didjeridoo player, who performed solo with the Brisbane Symphony are not to be missed.

Children can also soak in story telling by Fouzia, the first woman Dastango of modern times, and Simi Srivastava, founder of Kathashala. Illustrators like the award-winning Michael Camilleri and Satomi Ichikawa, adds weight to the list.

The festival, partnered by Zee Q, will be held at Delhi’s Shankar’s Centre for Children and the British School in Chanakyapuri.

“Watching the bright faces of children as they meet their favourite author, illustrator or storyteller and run around busily attending sessions has been our reward ever since we began in 2008,” said Ashwin Sashital, Brand Head, Zee Q.

Bookaroo has spread its wing as a five-city festival including Pune, Goa, Ahmedabad and Kuching (in Malaysia).

(Preeetha Nair can be contacted at preetha.n@ians.in)

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