Herald: Writing for children is no kid stuff

Writing for children is no kid stuff

28 May 2019 04:43am IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

Leave a comment
28 May 2019 04:43am IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

Leave a comment

On the passing away of Judith Kerr, recently, one of the world’s most loved Children’s authors, we look at Children’s literature in our own Goa and the challenges it faces

Judith Kerr wrote self-illustrated

picture titles, such as the 17-book ‘Mog series’, ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ and other acclaimed novels for older children. She passed away last week at the age of 95 years but what she left behind is a legacy of a generation of readers. In Goa, children’s literature is a challenge. It, of course, requires writing skill but what seems tougher is the actual process of getting the book out to the readers.

Dr Belinda Viegas Muller penned down ‘The Golden Gate… and other stories’, which were created for her children but gained wider readership. “Writing the stories was no challenge at all because these were stories that my own children liked the best. Finding a publisher and the marketing after that has always been a problem. For me, writing books is the easiest thing in the world but then getting out there and making money on it is where I fail miserably. I got another book in the pipeline and I started doing the pictures and illustrations for it,” says Dr Belinda, who also authored the book ‘Cry of a Kingfisher’.

Contrast that with Judit Kerr’s own relationship with Harper Collins, which was that of an elderly aunt or granny who came to the offices of the publisher in London, in bus number 9 always carrying books and left them with awe laughter and merriment. The lesson is that publishers must realise the value of children’s literature on Goa

Anita Pinto is the author of ‘Espi Mai is Stuck Again, and Other Tales from Goa’ which has been translated into Konkani, Marathi and Portuguese. The book has been read in Dubai, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Speaking about her experience in writing for children, Anita explains, “In ‘Espi Mai...’, I found that in Goa, very often people relate to problems that she faces in the book. I got a very good response and received a lot of fan mails from Goan children in India and abroad who want to relate to the places and culture. It becomes a personalised storybook for them.” Anita is currently working on a creative writing book for children and ‘New elocution thesis for children’ will be coming out next month.

Rochelle Pereira is a clinical psychologist and the author of ‘Little Brave Nina and other stories’ which is written to create awareness on child sexual abuse, bullying and including differently-abled kids in society. “It was about creating awareness on sensitive topics. Sexual Abuse was the main topic and because of that other topics came into being. I got a good response from young readers and they have written a lot of fan mail and letters,” says Rochelle, about the book that was published in November 2017.

Through Bookworm library, Sujata Noronha has been working closely with children and encouraging their reading habit. “Many of the books in Goa are slightly mediocre and they don’t hold up against well known authors and award winning picture books. When we want to introduce a Goa-related book, we have to plan a programme around it to create some engaging activity in order to get children be interested in it. There is a lot of talking down to children in Indian writing, not necessarily Goan writers, and that talking down is a problem that any good reader will immediately pick up. There are very few writers for children in Goa and because Goa is a small community, there is a deep need that the communities’ stories are also told because it is culturally different. But it has to be told well enough for it to stand on its own,” says Sujata.

Leonard Fernandes, the co-founder and partner of The Dogear’s Bookshop, Margao has observed a healthy trend among children’s reading. “Many children seem to be reading and, in many cases, they are reading age-appropriate texts. Of course, in the end, children read only if they are encouraged to read by their parents and if that habit is further encouraged in school. But children come to our bookshop and often ask for books by name, which shows that they are discussing books among peers.

Favourite authors are J K Rowling, Rick Riordan and Enid Blyton. There is also much demand for the Geronimo Stilton, Dork Diaries and Wimpy Kid series. Over the last 10 years, children’s literature, both for young kids and young adults, has grown exponentially. With many parents preferring books with Indian themes, Indian publishers have taken note of the large market and have jumped in to address that market,” says Leonard.

Datta Damodar Naik is the author of two children’s books. “I have been writing in Konkani and Marathi for last several years. It was only when my grandchildren were born that I was motivated to write stories for them in English. My books ‘Uncommon wealth – A Modern day Panchatantra’ and ‘The Jungle School - A modern day Hitopadesha’ have received an overwhelming response. That was because both these books were illustrated with sketches. I was pleasantly surprised when I got positive feedback from children, parents as well as teachers whenever they met me as well as through letters, emails or phone calls,” says Datta.

Frederick Noronha, the man behind Goa 1556, a publishing house, has worked with children book authors. “It has been our intention to create more books for children by local authors. That has not happened, because of a number of limitations and difficulties like a small and scattered market, lack of support, awareness and visibility. Goa needs some support for local books to happen. You need interesting authors. The book should be viable to create. While the earnings from books are usually low, the book should ideally cover its cost. If some institution comes up to co-partner in the process, then it helps a lot,” concludes Frederick.

Comments
Leave a comment


herald epaper herald epaper

Advertise     |     Contact Us     |     About Us     |     Terms of Use     |     Privacy Policy     |     Disclaimer     |     Designed by Team Inertia Technologies

       

Designed by Team Inertia Technologies