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 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.
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!
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.
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.
Are you a teacher or a writer or a storyteller? Then you would definitely enjoy this post on StoryStarters that started as a simple question on Twitter. And then the thread unravelled into a yarn of wonderful possibilities.
Based on the story starters, here are some storytelling / creative writing / imagination activities. They are not for anyone specific – from classrooms to lecture halls, from a studio to a lonely cafe, they can be used anywhere.