June is the month of Jungle!

In the deep dark jungles in India, daytime is naptime. Animals were resting, napping and sleeping. But like most young children Sloth Bear didn’t want to sleep. Sloth Bear sets off a series of events that disturb Porcupine, confuse Crocodile, and scare Elephant.

But when Tiger arrives on the scene, things get worse! Because Tiger loves to eat.

Tiger Troubles is a circular story of friendship, taking responsibility, the power of truth and the power of play.

From nap time to play time to yawn time, it’s a story recognisable in all our homes. It’s a great story to read-aloud! Young readers would love to have a go!

The illustrations by Hannah Marks will make you laugh, Tiger’s love for food will make you gasp and how the story unfolds will tie you up in knots!!

Isolation Inspirations!

Social distancing, isolation. quarantine – all these were words that we didn’t use in 2019. But here we are, home-schooling, working from home and finding new ways to keep ourselves occupied.

So I got together with my poetry group 
and created a book of poems - 
about staying indoors, washing hands, 
home-school and so much more. 

These poems were all written during the period of staying indoors, to amuse ourselves and to bring cheer to others. It is also more than that. As writers and poets, our feelings are often expressed in words and while we worked, talked to our families, went for our permitted jog or shopping, we also wrote about what we are going through.

The four of us who got together are:

Margaret Bateson-Hill – https://www.margaretbateson-hill.co.uk/

Dom Conlon – https://domconlon.com/

Mo O’Hara – https://moohara.co.uk/ 

Chitra Soundar – http://www.chitrasoundar.com/ 

And that’s what creative artists do. Reflect the world around them and help all of us look at our situation from a different perspective

Download the book of poems here!

We hope you enjoy reading these poems. If you wish to recite them on video and share with the world, do let us know too. Our social media contacts are available at the end of the book.

Let’s hope for a better world where we unite against all kinds of evil, not just a virus.

Want to write your own poems? Here is an activity to help you.

Animal Stories

Animals have been used as a way to tell stories since Panchatantra which was told 2000 years ago. Their natural habitats and habits have been useful in bringing out both stories that are fun and with some lessons hidden in them.

While there are many reasons why we should have more children of colour in stories and not use animals as a substitute, some stories lend themselves to using animal characters. These stories are more fun because of the way animals behave, or their food habits or how they look.

I love writing animal stories just for that reason and it’s not a surprise to me as I grew up listening to tons of stories about animals, animals interacting with humans and trickster tales.

My latest story Tiger Troubles illustrated by Hannah Marks and published by Bloomsbury Education is a fun tale of repetition, funny foods and loads of chants to learn and tell.

Until the book comes out here is a trickster tale from India that you can listen to.

All Good Things…

All good things must start with a story. And the National Storytelling Week must of course start with a brilliant one.

This story I’m going to tell you, has stayed with me from when I was six or seven. I was a very fussy eater and one of the vegetables I didn’t like to eat was the purple brinjals (or the white ones for that matter).

Many of the stories in my Prince Veera series are reimagined versions of such stories about Emperor Akbar and Birbal, King Krishnadeva Raya and his trusted friend Tenali Rama.

Prince Veera series

Listen to the story and enjoy! If you like it, do pass it along. Because a hand-me-down story is the best kind there is!

Happy New Year everyone!

2019 was an eventful year. It started in Chennai, India with my parents and took me on a journey to festivals and conferences across the world.

I was in Houston to participate in Texas Book Festival, then at SCBWI Europolitan Conference as a keynote speaker and had a quick stopover in Dubai for the Emirates Festival. Each festival gave me different perspectives on reading, stories and more. I met children from many different backgrounds, writers with aspirations and passion to tell new stories and although journeys are tiring and routine-breaking, they bring new energy into the writing.

I had six new books come out in 2019, that I’ve been working since 2017 and 2018. They were all different and challenged me in new ways.

I took on new challenges like writing a theatre show that I performed with a wonderful friend. I was part of a theatre devising group and we performed to an audience of five. I was briefly on BBC talking about diversity in children’s books.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-48225791/bame-the-children-s-bookshop-selling-diversity

I visited many schools, met with teachers and librarians across the world, told stories, inspired new tales with young people of all ages.

2020 is gearing up to be a busy year too. I can already reveal the cover of two new books that I wrote which will be published. Here is a quick glimpse – I’ll be posting more info soon. Watch this space.

While fake news, nationalism and climate crisis threatens goodwill and existence of our planet, this is a time for stories – to imagine a better life, to mine for wisdom from lessons learnt in the past and sculpt a new world for our future generations.

I wish you all a wonderful 2020 in which hope reigns despair and acceptance wins over hatred.