The Kala Ghoda Children’s Literature Festival 2013 – Part 2 aka “Can We Retire Already?”

Tuesday is the day when Lady Luck, who had loyally been cheering for us throughout the first three days of the fest, decided to go on a little vacation.

It all began innocently enough. For the first session we had Shabnam Minwalla with her delightful book The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street (review coming soon).

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She came in very well prepared, was an enthusiastic reader and had the kids making charm bags as a part of their activity. She even had her adorable daughters come in to help with the story-telling and the craft-making.

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We should have known it was too good to last.

Usually, the trouble with week-long festivals is that while weekends have crowds nearly standing one on top of the other, people don’t make an appearance throughout the rest of the week. To combat this problem, Tuesday boasted our star attraction – film actress Konkona Sen Sharma was all set to become storyteller for the day. The newspapers gave the event sufficient coverage, excited parents registered kids as young as 2 and we had our battle faces on to deal with the inadvertent chaos at the book store.

Except for one tiny thing. She didn’t show up. Her young baby fell ill and she couldn’t get away.

The news spread among the organisers in hushed whispers. We expressed our panic through silent hand gestures and dramatically-raised eyebrows. However, the lovely publishers of Karadi Tales flew to our rescue. The indomitable duo of Shobha Vishwanath (the owner of the publishing house) and Anushka Ravishankar (author extraordinaire) saved the day with their brilliant rendition of The Rumour written by the aforementioned Anushka. Poor Anushka had come to the city expecting to conduct a single session on Sunday and ended up being ferried to three schools for more sessions and having to fill in as a last minute replacement in front of nearly a hundred kids.

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They also brought along a singer and a musician. There were too many kids for all of them to hear and sing along to the song but it was a fun session nevertheless.

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Wednesday had another fun evening in store. We had two mystery (with a little bit of history and adventure thrown in) authors holding the stage, we had a decent number of attendees and we heaved a collective sigh of relief. Sonja Chandrachud spoke about the second book in her DOA Detective Files series – Revenge of the Pharaoh.

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She also had a quiz going with correct answers being rewarded with gold (chocolate) coins. Maybe it was the Egypt exhibit (complete with a real Mummy) at the nearby Prince of Wales Museum that did the trick, but all the kids (and many of the parents) were utterly fascinated by Egyptian mythology and participated with gusto.

The next event had author Anidruddha Sen Gupta flying in all the way from Goa to talk about his Fundoo 4 series. He was all set with his bag of clues for the kids to solve. He seemed a little alarmed by the fact that the kids were much younger than he had expected but he was raring to go.

Until the electricity went off. In the entire neighbourhood, no less.

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The kids, of course, were convinced we did it on purpose. What better way to celebrate a mystery evening than conducting a detective session in the dark? Maybe we’ll steal that idea for next time but that Wednesday, we only managed to talk about the book for half an hour before realising the lights were off indefinitely and giving up on the whole exercise. We retreated into the dark cafe and called for cupcakes to soothe our disappointed spirits. The main organiser’s kids followed us in and the author took them through a personal clue-solving session that was a resounding success.

It's the camera flash that makes it look as bright as day. In real life, detectives need cellphone torches in the dark
It’s the camera flash that makes it look as bright as day. In real life, detectives need cellphone torches in the dark

The first session on Thursday had proved to be immensely popular with registrations. Natasha Sharma had clearly garnered a lot of fans with her previous book Icky, Yucky, Mucky!, all of whom faithfully showed up for her latest titled Kaka and Munni. Having dealt with crowds of all shapes and sizes, she came fully prepared, armed with extra activity kits and helpers in tow.

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He finished off the session by showing the kids how to draw the titular character and left them happily colouring Fearless Fafe blue with pink ears.

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Looking at all our delighted faces, nobody would have been able to guess that a popular author who was to conduct a workshop the next day had cancelled on us at the last minute.

All we could do was look at each other and mutter if it was time for us to Disapparate yet.

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