Stories are us!

As we enter into 2021, everything’s a bit up in the air. While we are familiar with terms like lockdown, zoom and quarantine, and our children are adapting to this new world, we are also fatigued by staying in, being alert all the time and sneezing into our elbows.

During these times, stories keep us rooted to our past, our dreams and our imaginations. Regardless of the medium, stories keep our hopes soaring high despite the fierce winds and darkening skies. We see joy in unexpected snow, a bird flying past our windows and discovering a long-lost piece of chocolate behind the spice jars.

Art by Jen Kahtun for Sona Sharma – Very Best Big Sister

Children too can find the glimmer of joy amidst the practical rubbles of everyday lockdown life – the story that makes them smile, the book that makes them think, a joke or a song that they can repeat and a drawing that inspires them to draw.

As an author of children’s books, as a storyteller and as a writer who visits schools talking to children often, I understand the struggles of teachers and parents and the hard work put in by librarians to find ways of placing the books in children’s hands.

While it’s impossible to do free video visits to schools or offer all the stories we write for free to the entire world, authors and illustrators around the world have offered their time, energy and their intellectual property to children and their families to enjoy. We’ve all gotten used to making videos, doing school visits online and running workshops to a screen that broadcasts than to eager young people who raise their hands and shout out their ideas.

As an author, I’d like to keep writing these stories and creating more opportunities to share stories, ideas and inspiration to imagine to all children who need it. While I wouldn’t be able to offer everything for free, there are resources I’ve created that can be reused many more times.

Keeping that in mind, here is a collection of resources that parents, teachers and care-givers can use from my bookshelf to yours. Please do use them for free and share them with friends and family. And if you enjoy the story I tell or the workshop I create, do support authors and illustrators like me, by buying our books next time you’re in the mood to read a new book.

Sona Sharma is coming soon!

I wrote my first story for Sona Sharma in 2015 – she came fully formed on the page along with her Grandfather whom she calls Thatha (Grandpa in Tamil) and Elephant, best friend and imaginary friend all rolled into one.

Published by Walker Books,
Illustrated by Jen Khatun

Although I loved Sona in her first story I wasn’t sure a quietly funny family story will appeal. My first confidence in the story came later that year when I was doing my MA at Bath Spa University. I had a 1-1 session with our Professor – the most amazing David Almond. I had sent in the first few pages of Sona for him to read and he loved it.

It gave me the boost of confidence I required to send the story to my editor at Walker Books, Mara Bergman. Mara loved Sona – but we decided she needed a bigger story, a story that shows off her charm, her humour and also her love for her family.

That story became SONA SHARMA – VERY BEST BIG SISTER. Loosely based on my growing up in Chennai, and set in a contemporary Chennai in a loving family like mine and a fun cast of characters in Sona’s world – her school friends, teacher, her auto-rickshaw driver and Mum’s best friend Mullai – they all help Sona become the VERY BEST BIG SISTER to her baby sister.

Illustrated by Jen Khatun

Sona Sharma is currently available to pre-order and will be out in the world on 3rd September. Beautifully illustrated by Jen Khatun, the stories showcase one family in Chennai and a little girl who has the fears of any first-born child like me – will my family love me less when the new baby comes?

Illustrated by Jen Khatun

Amma, Sona’s mum explains to her that families have loads of love to go around and Appa, her dad explains that they will be poor only when they run out of love.

With the help of Elephant, gentle proverbs of Paatti, her grandmother and the wisdom and stories of her grandfather and the no-nonsense street smart of their auto-rickshaw driver, Sona learns to love her little baby sister.

Illustrated by Jen Khatun

Get hold of a copy now and find out who the President is, who Miss Rao is and how Sona finds a name for her little baby sister.

Illustrated by Jen Khatun

Sona Sharma will be visiting a number of UK blog sites during the month of September. Don’t forget to follow the bloggers to find out more about her mission to becoming the Very Best Big Sister.

SONA SHARMA – Very Best Big Sister – Blog Tour

Here is a little peek into the book!

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.

Farmer Falgu Stays At Home

Farmer Falgu books are all about going away on trips, to the market, to a festival or to fly kites.

But in this current situation, we can fight the virus that is wreaking havoc only by staying at home. So Farmer Falgu sets an example by staying at home with his family.

So along with the wonderful team at Karadi Tales headed by Shobha Viswanath, we bring you a free edition of Farmer Falgu Stays At Home to encourage all Farmer Falgu fans to be patient and stay at home.

Read the story on video here!

Read and listen to the story here!

Scroll down to find the e-book Farmer Falgu Stays At Home

We wish everyone a healthy spring and summer and we look forward to finding out how you spent your time at home.

Get loads of activities that relate to the Farmer Falgu series.

World Pangolin Day 2020

Today is World Pangolin Day – the day that marks the conservation efforts taken worldwide, especially in Asia and Africa to protect pangolins from poachers.

The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have just announced some additional radio tagging for Indian and Chinese pangolins living on the subcontinent. Find out more here.

There are 7 different sub-species of Pangolin. Find out more about them and the conservation efforts here.

I first discovered more things about a pangolin when I wanted an animal that was endemic to India to use in my story. And my love for the shy creature was born.

Read You’re Safe With Me to celebrate World Pangolin Day and share the fun facts with everyone.

Get your hands on colouring sheets and puzzles here.