Apr 11, 2020
It takes more than a lockdown to keep children's creativity down.
As soon as the lockdown came into effect, publishers, authors, illustrators, storytellers and performers put their hands up to come up with offerings for children that would help deal with their boredom when they were finished with their online school lessons. It was a tremendous exhibition of hope and solidarity.
With so much happening and eating into children’s time, Bookaroo decided to pitch in and share what was happening around the world. But we could not resist putting up a post on April 4th, asking our fellow Bookaroons (a Bookaroon is anyone who has participated as a speaker in any edition of Bookaroo) to share a happy, creative idea with us.
Little did we know that in four hours of that post we would get the first response that led to a riot of colours. The idea was simple and appealing. Ask children to send pictures of animals drawn by them. In this we had a willing and cheerful ally - the artist, Mistunee Chowdhury - who had very kindly offered to compose it into a jungle collage picture. The children just needed to (or ask their parent to) DM their artworks for Mistunee to create the full picture. The idea was also to let parents see their child’s creativity and bring a smile to their faces. They too needed a break from the lockdown effect, you see.
Surprise, surprise. The entries poured in from Pune to Kolkata, from Bangalore to Ahmedabad and from Nasa to Noida. The artworks came in all hues and colours. And these were not just of wild or ferocious animals. They were all there from the deep sea to the deep forest. Dolphins, dodos, whales, tortoises, giraffes, deer and… well the roll call is a long one.
Some of the children got into intricate compositions too. One showed the spirit of harmony with a deer and a tiger shaking a leg. All that was needed now was Mistunee to work her magic. Fitting the pieces of the jigsaw seamlessly was not a breeze.
First, we decided to break it down into aquatic animals and those that lived on land. Hence the two names and canvases - Aquaroo and Jungleroo. There were some elements – the whale’s spout, for instance - that had to be left out. Mails and WhatsApp messages went back and forth for last-minute adjustments or re-scanning.
Mistunee was tremendously patient working to weave every single painting into the scene that you see. The children, Mistunee and all of us at Bookaroo couldn’t have been more pleased.
The full list of the young contributors (with age)
Aquaroo: Anahita Shah - 4, Samara Vohra - 5.5, Anya Narayan – 6, Ira Sen and Dhriya Patel - 7, Jihan - 8, Moli - 9.
Jungleroo: Myra Adhikari, Vihaa Shukla, Sonny and Aarvi Sharma - 5, Dhriya Patel - 7, Eshon Sam Kundu, Jihan, Jahan and Vaidehi - 8, Aahish, Tvisha Parin Patel, Tahira Vohra and Monit Tulsiani - 9, Ridhima Tomar, Roshni Gupte, Soumoshri Ganguly and Siddhant Chatterji - 10, Sindhuja Mitra and Sahajanya Mitra - 12