The Phantom Tollbooth by Nortan Juster: A Book Review

Have you ever wanted to sit back on your rocking chair, sip on some milkshakes and get your full dose of fantasy and adventurous reads? Well then, I have the perfect book for you, dear avid reader. The title of the book is “The Phantom Tollbooth”. This book, written by Nortan Juster, takes you to the world of your dreams with each and every chapter. One can clearly see into the eyes of Milo, the main character, as he takes his journey through unknown lands to complete his mission.

Milo is a young boy, who finds nothing interesting, literally nothing. He just mulls through life like he has nothing to do with it. But, one fine day, he receives a parcel. He opens it, hoping that it would be something that could kindle a little bit of interest. Milo follows the instructions in the box and sets up a “Tollbooth”. Oh! That’s where the adventures begin for Milo – from the land of doldrums, where boredom is the chief occupation to Dictionopolis where you can taste words, and finally to Digitopolis where numbers are mined. Nortan Juster, the author, does not forget to add Humour to each and every page.

This book is definitely a good way to enhance creativity and imagination in young readers as for sure it will open new doors of thought. Personally, I was impressed by the vocabulary used in this book.

Happy reading!

By Aryaa Sridar

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha is a professional writer for various newspapers, magazines and online publications. She writes feature and lifestyle articles, reviews, travel, mythology and GK nuggets. She also writes for a pan India Braille magazine. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Animation and Design, both from USA. Additionally she is a qualified Steiner Education teacher, a certified Jolly Phonics and a Jolly Grammar educator. Before choosing the writing profession, Shruti was heading the graphic and textile design department in her mother’s Home Furnishings Export House and Factory.

The company was one of top exporters of soft furnishing’s and made-ups in India having clients like large European Departmental stores. She currently is a full time educator and conducts classes for children in Creative writing and English Enrichment. You can connect with her at www.shrutidivecha.com

Thoughts on Reading/ Why to Read/ A musing on Reading

Do you feel a writer, a poet, or someone else trapped inside you?

Do you feel a plethora of emotions but are unable to express those the way you want, to your imagination’s full extent?

There’s a simple solution to this – Read.

Read more.

And more and more and more, till you start living those books, those stories, those poems, and you’d find yourself creating your own.

You’d realise how words by accomplished writers and poets create detailed visuals in your mind, how their words transport you into situations about which they have written in a way that you cannot stay a mere audience, but becomes the doer , the protagonist!

Gradually, you’d find your groove as a writer.

It’s a rich world out there and to visit every place, experience each culture, live a different life is not possible, but a book takes you to all places faster than any plane, the stories let you soak in different cultures deeper than any dye and the characters let you live a thousand lives in your one lifetime.

Reading widens your horizon, enriches your vocabulary, enhances your vision and most importantly, it lets you explore your inner self.

It makes you rise above ordinary.

Good books are those leather bound chests inside which words of wisdom, like jewels have been treasured in their frail brittle pages since time immemorial.

These are those glass bottles with messages inside them, which are floating in the vast ocean of life, bobbing on the waves and are found by many , but the life altering messages are intercepted only by those who are truly blessed.

Once this habit is cultivated then finding a good book is quite simple ; the one which defies time periods, geography, culture and language; one which appeals to different genders, ages alike around the globe is a good book or – a classic.

Such books never age and if they do, they do it gracefully.

And, you like them. Forever.

Why, there’s always a place for a Malory Towers term along with Harry Potter’s, ‘The Secret Garden’ blooms under ‘The Room Above the Roof’, Dr. Dolittle, Velveteen Rabbit, are happy beiny partners with Matilda and Anne of the Green Gables, and Alice sitting at the base of the Faraway Tree wonders ‘Where the Wild Things Are’?

‘A Tale of Two Cities’, The Old Man and the Sea’, ‘ To Kill a Mockingbird’ share shelf-space with ‘The Help’, ‘The Alchemist’, and ‘The Kite-maker’, and ‘The Midnight’s Children’, ‘The Birth of Venus’ sit adjacent to ‘The Northern Lights’ and ‘Chocolat’ without anyone of these losing any of their relevance, razzmtazz or respect!

Enjoyed and revered by all generations, these are passed on as beacons of wisdom, bonds of affection, as parts of heritage from a parent to child and at times as piece of one’s soul.

Such is their timelessness, charisma and enchantment that these become an integral part of a reader’s life not just affecting his philosophy and outlook, but at times the nuances of his actions, decisions and perceptions.

So, as parents, educators and elders it’s our duty to introduce our younger lot to these amazing experiences and guide them as they explore the world through these. We must help them in befriending these seemingly mundane articles and make them understand how books are their friends and guides, how paper is always more patient than man and how reading can help them and us all to evolve not just as better writers, but as better humans too.

We have the responsibility to enable the child to understand stories, to enjoy poems and apply the learnings, spread the joyfulness, and practice empathy in real life while making sure that the world of books is to be a part of the child’s life and not the other way round.

We must shoulder the responsibility to nourish young minds with a healthy diet of articles and anecdotes, verses and tales ; early inculcation of which develops patience, imagination, analytical powers, enriches vocabulary enhancing their creative side.

Children who read a lot are more expressive in their thoughts as reading well written stories, beautiful poems coming from diverse cultures nudge their dormant dreams and nurture their budding abilities.

The habit of reading be it Grandma’s tales, Sindbad’s stories, the mythological epics, folktales, bedtime prayer books, or the adventurous saga of Huckleberry Finn, good books help young writers burgeon into sensitive story tellers with excellent command over language, emotions and content. While growing up, the habit of self reading helps such children to visualise characters and situations , dwell in that mental image, feel it and later re-create their own versions of life and surroundings. As they create better versions, they pave way for not just new stories, but inventions and advancements too.

This, reading is the first step not just towards writing, the birth of a poem or a story, but also towards the germination an idea, a hypothesis, an invention – a brave new world.

So, if you still feel that someone is trapped inside you, read.

If you feel you have a lot to say , you have your own version, a different perception, a bold vision but you are unable to express, well read more.

Read diverse. And you might find a writer, a poet, a scientist, a revolutionary, a reformer, an altogether different person bursting out.

Don’t hold back. Read.

By Kokila Gupta

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha is a professional writer for various newspapers, magazines and online publications. She writes feature and lifestyle articles, reviews, travel, mythology and GK nuggets. She also writes for a pan India Braille magazine. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Animation and Design, both from USA. Additionally she is a qualified Steiner Education teacher, a certified Jolly Phonics and a Jolly Grammar educator. Before choosing the writing profession, Shruti was heading the graphic and textile design department in her mother’s Home Furnishings Export House and Factory.

The company was one of top exporters of soft furnishing’s and made-ups in India having clients like large European Departmental stores. She currently is a full time educator and conducts classes for children in Creative writing and English Enrichment. You can connect with her at www.shrutidivecha.com

Back to the chocolate factory!

‘Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything? Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did. I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.’ Here’s an inspiring excerpt from Roald Dahl’s ‘James and the giant peach’.

This is Dahl, this is his world, here’s the magic he believes, here’s the ambitious approach he endorses, a brave attitude one must possess to take the world heads on. Dahl makes us think, makes us imagine and makes us cherish his highly fictitious magical world. Buckle up your shoes kids! A phenomenal adventure awaits you.

One of the greatest children authors of the twentieth century, Roald Dahl’s books celebrate bravery, kindness and warmth. Dahl began writing in the 1940s. His first work named ‘A piece of cake’ based on his wartime memories was published on 1st August 1942. Prior to his writing career, Dahl served extensively in the Royal Air Force (an UK based air and space force). He was also a part of the Second World War. Born in Wales on 13th September, 1916 and spending most of his life in England, Dahl had a ton of life experiences and anecdotes which he came across during his growing up years including his young adulthood and the phase thereafter which provided him with the wisdom, knowledge and confidence which could in turn later help him turn into a master storyteller.

Dahl’s first children’s book named ‘The Gremlins’ was published in 1943. Dahl went on to write numerous bestselling children’s stories later ranging from ‘Matilda’, ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, ‘The Witches’, ‘The Twits’, ‘Revolting Rhymes’, ‘James and the giant peach’, ‘Danny the champion of the world’, ‘The enormous crocodile’, ‘My uncle Oswald’, ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’ and many others. He also published his two autobiographical books ‘Boy’ and ‘Going solo’.

The point of view usually used in his books is that of the kids. There’s good, bad and evil in his writings and usually the good triumphs over the evil. And somehow the good here usually ends up being kids with the evil part as adults. When Dahl was a little kid, his mother used to narrate to him mythical stories revolving around creatures. These stories had a great influence on his writing. He once mentioned in an interview “She was a great teller of tales. Her memory was prodigious and nothing that ever happened to her in her life was forgotten.” His books ‘The Minpins’, ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘The BFG’ contain those influences and references in some capacity or the other. There was also a grandmother character in ‘The Witches’ which as per him was directly based on his mother and was also in a way a tribute to her.

He even made up a few words on his own, the likes of ‘swishfiggler’, ‘snozzcumber’, etc to name a few. The tone happens to be on the funnier side in his writings, characterized with a regular usage of exclamation marks and all caps sentences in between.

Dahl’s other professions as spy, a fighter pilot, a chocolate historian and a medical inventor were also visible in some fictional capacity in his writings, with many of them being recurring themes as well. During his childhood students at his school Repton were invited to try chocolate bars, this memory stayed with him throughout his life and we got the amazing ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’.

Dahl always encouraged children to imagine as vividly as possible. As one of his famous quotes goes, ‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ He taught us to believe in magic wholeheartedly and live our days full of life. He wrote in a tiny cottage surrounded with linden trees. He famously called it the ‘Writing hut’. Dahl once said that adults should get down on their knees for a week, in order to remember what it’s like to live in a world in which the people with all the power literally loom over you. How innocent a perspective is that!

In his youth he was highly influenced by literary greats like Charles Dickens, Frederick Marryat, Rudyard Kipling and others. Traces of these influences are also distinctly visible in his writings.

He has dabbled with multiple different forms of literature ranging from novels, poems, scripts, collections, non-fiction, edited books, so on and so forth. Many of his books have also been adapted into successful films and franchisees. Dahl’s literary work has been translated into 60+ languages and he has sold hundreds of millions of copies across the globe clubbing it all together (a bestseller in true sense). A few of the many prestigious awards he has been bestowed with include ‘The world fantasy award for lifetime achievement’, ‘British Book Awards’ children’s author of the year’. And the list would go on and on.

Roald Dahl’s archive with countless number of letters, manuscripts and a lot more has found a permanent home at ‘Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre’ in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire village where he passed away.

He left behind a strong legacy which we all cherish and celebrate. We enjoy candies, chocolates; befriend insects, creatures; and seek magic all around us. If not scientifically, at least emotionally we could achieve it with a Roald Dahl book by our side. Magical places and happy faces go hand in hand!

By Himanshu Nimbhorkar

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha is a professional writer for various newspapers, magazines and online publications. She writes feature and lifestyle articles, reviews, travel, mythology and GK nuggets. She also writes for a pan India Braille magazine. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Animation and Design, both from USA. Additionally she is a qualified Steiner Education teacher, a certified Jolly Phonics and a Jolly Grammar educator. Before choosing the writing profession, Shruti was heading the graphic and textile design department in her mother’s Home Furnishings Export House and Factory.

The company was one of top exporters of soft furnishing’s and made-ups in India having clients like large European Departmental stores. She currently is a full time educator and conducts classes for children in Creative writing and English Enrichment. You can connect with her at www.shrutidivecha.com

Musings on raising a Well-Rounded Kid

Let me preface this by saying that I am no expert 🙂 … but rather I am putting out my thoughts on what it means to be a well-rounded person and how do I as a parent think of “well-rounded” when it comes to my daughter!

A simple rule of thumb that I use when it comes to a well-rounded personality is that the person should have some semblance of the following characteristics (in no particular order):

  • Knowledge – not just academic or school related, but also about things that one is not taught specifically – either in a school or coaching class
  • Humility – because knowledge – when not embedded with humility equals arrogance
  • Curiosity – because curiosity creates an innate urge to explore more and more things – and that increases knowledge
  • Enthusiasm – the “let’s do it” spirit / attitude – because it signifies a zest for life in general
  • Humor – because what point is all of the above if you are not fun to be with 🙂 and how drab would it be to be in the company of a humorless person!

Another thumb rule to check if one is well-rounded is to see if he/she can have a fun or stimulating or entertaining talk with any person on most topics under the sun for atleast 15 minutes. While it may seem easy, it is extremely difficult to actually hold someone’s attention for 15 minutes. Human beings are quick to filter out things that are “boring” for them and in this context 15 minutes is a very long time!

So – when it comes to our daughter (she is 9 years old and hence beginning to soak most things like a sponge; as all kids her age are!) – we make a conscious effort to talk or do activities that expose her to a wide range of topics – from history to space to quantum physics (not that we understand much of it!), but some things she understands and some things she doesn’t.

The ideal ratio that we try to maintain of things she understands : things she doesn’t understand is 80:20 – because we believe this is an ideal ratio to ensure that breeds knowledge, curiosity, humility and enthusiasm.

Any more on the “understands” side and Omisha will become a victim of a “know-it-all” syndrome (and we’ve had those experiences fairly early on in her childhood and it took us some time to dispel that syndrome!)

The 20% mix of “doesn’t understand” ensures that she has the constant urge to ask questions – and the humility to accept that there’s a wide variety of things that she still needs to learn.

What happens if you flip the ratio of “doesn’t understand” to more than 20? Personally, I believe this is equally dangerous – as it rears the monstrous head of underconfidence – and if there is one thing that I personally don’t want any semblance of in my child – it is underconfidence!

One of the biggest gifts of childhood is the ability to be audacious and think out of the box – and underconfidence can set in a rot that can slowly clip these wings of imagination!

So for me – the 80:20 ratio seems to be a good mix to start achieving the things I believe are most important to develop a well-rounded child!

Oh – I did forget one thing – and that is adding a dash of a healthy competitive spirit to the above mix! But let’s chat about that in the next edition of The Kids Carnival (which will also allow me to do a bit of shameless marketing about WKC :p)

What are your thoughts on building a well-rounded child? Please do feel free to share – it will allow us to do better on this – which is one of the most important things for our children in today’s day and age!

Cheers!

Abhishek

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha is a professional writer for various newspapers, magazines and online publications. She writes feature and lifestyle articles, reviews, travel, mythology and GK nuggets. She also writes for a pan India Braille magazine. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Animation and Design, both from USA. Additionally she is a qualified Steiner Education teacher, a certified Jolly Phonics and a Jolly Grammar educator. Before choosing the writing profession, Shruti was heading the graphic and textile design department in her mother’s Home Furnishings Export House and Factory.

The company was one of top exporters of soft furnishing’s and made-ups in India having clients like large European Departmental stores. She currently is a full time educator and conducts classes for children in Creative writing and English Enrichment. You can connect with her at www.shrutidivecha.com

Creative Therapy

“You can make anything by writing”- C S LEWIS

I read this quote long back but I started believing in it when I saw my little girl create her own world of happiness. Two years back when my daughter was four years old we got posted to a different city and that is when I realized that even kids of this tender age suffer from temper tantrums and separation anxiety. When my daughter got separated from her close friends, being merely four years old she wasn’t able to understand what was wrong with her; and as parents too, we understood quite late that she was suffering from emotional distress which had started manifesting itself in the form of physical sickness.

She would most of time remain cranky, became overly clingy, eat very little or nothing at all and then started suffering from recurrent cough, cold & headaches. As advised by doctors, we then tried to divert her mind through many different ways. Out of the many activities we introduced her to; she particularly liked creating stories and drawing pictures. These activities gave her a break from distressing thoughts. The positive mental engagement helped her recover better from physical sickness. She would everyday tap into a “state of flow”- being totally engrossed in her world of colors and imaginary characters from her stories.

It was just then that the world was hit by COVID-19. My daughter loved narrating stories to her classmates and making cards for her teachers but with COVID-19 scare the schools got shut down. Once again a little bit of her world of happiness got chipped. Thankfully through social media I came across wizkidscarnival- a creative platform for kids. I encouraged her to participate in various contests just to keep her creative flame alive and refocus mentally towards online expression of her thoughts in the form of short speeches or stories.

To my surprise she not only enjoyed participating but also got motived to try other forms of art like singing & reciting poems (by looking at videos by other kids). At a very young age she started becoming more focused towards goals and putting extra effort in her art; and wanted to meet deadlines too! Some people may consider this as “stress”; but with my personal experience I can say for sure that this kind of “positive stress” allows kids to build their inner strengths and skills, adapt to changes, face challenges, and gain confidence.

Today my daughter is six years old and it is very seldom that we now hear- “I’m getting bored” and what we hear more frequently is – “What should I draw, what topic can I write a story on, what song could I practice, what poem can I recite…..”

Creativity can create wonders in child development both mentally and physically. It is this fascinating pool of creativity which I wish for every child and my only advice would be- DON’T BE AFRAID TO JUMP IN!

By Namita Karat

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha is a professional writer for various newspapers, magazines and online publications. She writes feature and lifestyle articles, reviews, travel, mythology and GK nuggets. She also writes for a pan India Braille magazine. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Animation and Design, both from USA. Additionally she is a qualified Steiner Education teacher, a certified Jolly Phonics and a Jolly Grammar educator. Before choosing the writing profession, Shruti was heading the graphic and textile design department in her mother’s Home Furnishings Export House and Factory.

The company was one of top exporters of soft furnishing’s and made-ups in India having clients like large European Departmental stores. She currently is a full time educator and conducts classes for children in Creative writing and English Enrichment. You can connect with her at www.shrutidivecha.com

Sports for all

Have you heard of the phrase “Health is Wealth”?

If you have heard of this phrase, you surely know that it is an important one. There are many ways of being healthy and fit like eating healthy, getting good sleep, and being hygienic. But for me, the most effective way of being in good shape is -exercise.

Playing sports is an easy way to exercise and is an interesting hobby to spend your time on. There are so many sports you can choose from, for example swimming, badminton, tennis, running, cricket etc.

If these sports seem to be a little too extreme for you or you don’t have time you can try yoga, zumba, pilates, or you can even take a long jog every day. As you know International Yoga Day is approaching. It is celebrated on the 21st of June, so let us discuss a little about yoga.

Yoga is an old discipline of Hindus. Yoga was developed in the Indus valley Civilisation over 5000 years ago. It teaches breathing techniques, exercises, and meditation. It also teaches the concept of harmony between the mind and the body. The meaning of the word yoga is “union” in Sanskrit. The best time to do yoga is in the morning because it boosts your energy and helps you set the tone for the rest of the day. There are various exercises in yoga. Each exercise has a different benefit for our body and mind, let me give you an example-

Vrikshasana (tree pose) improves confidence, alertness,focus and strengthens hips and bones; while Utkatasana (chair pose) increases breathing capacity, builds stamina, calms your mind, helps you to be stabilized, and strengthens thighs and ankles.

If you want to read about sports and gain some knowledge about sports before you pursue them, here are some book recommendations by me –

  • WOMEN IN SPORTS – Written by Rachel Ignotofsky WOMEN IN SPORTS-Written by Rachel Ignotofsky
  • KID ATHLETES-by David StablerThe previous 2 books are autobiographies of women /Kids in sports and how they became who they are now.
  • Salt in my shoes- by Deloris Jordan It is a very Motivating book and also one of my favourite books.Salt in my shoes
    My next book recommendation has rules and regulations for every sport explained
  • Children’s book of sports- by DK publications

Ok now let us discuss the benefits of sports. Sports not only increase physical fitness but also mental fitness and teach good sportsmanship. They help to boost your self-confidence and teach you teamwork and leadership and how to gracefully accept failure instead of being a sour loser. By playing sports your focus improves and you learn to be disciplined.

By playing sports and keeping your fitness on track you can avoid any unpleasant complications in your body, even small things like walking every day has its benefits.

And remember “The body achieves what the mind believes.”

Happy International Yoga Day to everyone.

By Nivedita Jayashankar

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha is a professional writer for various newspapers, magazines and online publications. She writes feature and lifestyle articles, reviews, travel, mythology and GK nuggets. She also writes for a pan India Braille magazine. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Animation and Design, both from USA. Additionally she is a qualified Steiner Education teacher, a certified Jolly Phonics and a Jolly Grammar educator. Before choosing the writing profession, Shruti was heading the graphic and textile design department in her mother’s Home Furnishings Export House and Factory.

The company was one of top exporters of soft furnishing’s and made-ups in India having clients like large European Departmental stores. She currently is a full time educator and conducts classes for children in Creative writing and English Enrichment. You can connect with her at www.shrutidivecha.com

Dialogues – Story Enhancers

Many times, I have been asked by parents and students how to make their story writing more engaging.

Give me one quick tip to make my writing into effective stories?

Today i speak about a very easy and yet fantastic strategy that can make any story a notch above the others…simply add dialogues.

While most students are familar with dialogues within their reading, many omit it in their writing. Dialogues is one of the best ways to bring any narrative alive and hook the reader to the plot. We all have seen umpteen movies and theatre plays. The gripping words spoken by the characters can make even the dullest plot exciting and create suoerb suspense.

So why is dialogue writing important in narratives?

Dialogues break the monotony of storytelling. They break up the action writing and descriptions and improve the flow and pacing of a story. When there are shorter paragraphs and more dialogues, it is easy to the eye and the reader is glued to the story.

Dialogues also help bring characters alive. They add layers and makes the reader feel more connected to the story.

In simpler words, dialogues can make a story go from blah to blitzing fantastic.

Arent dialogues simply words a character speaks?

No, don’t make the mistake of thinking dialogues are just words spoken by the characters. It is important that dialogues aren’t just window dressing. There is no room for boring chit chat in the story.

In a movie or play, it is the actors job to enhance dialogues with emotions. On paper, it is upto you. Dialogues should earn their place in an essay. Think of them as spices. If added well, they can do wonders, else if left out or added wrongly they can convert even the best recipe into a disaster.When written correctly, dialogues can be a dynamic powerhouse and grab the reader’s attention instantly.

Where should I add dialogues in my story?

Here are some ideas to help you add effective dialogues in appropriate places

Dialogues are great ways to describe a character and reveal their personality :

Consider these dialogues examples :

Make me a sandwich now.
I could really eat a sandwich now. Would you mind fixing one for me please.
Oye, you lazy fellow, always sitting around all day. Get off the chair and make me a first class sandwich.
There are 3 very different characters revealed in the above dialogues which the reader can easily visualize without you writing long descriptions.

So use dialogues to skillfully reveal your character’s personality.

Reveal back information, dreams, desires and intentions:

Sometimes a strong requires the reader to know the back events, thoughts and intentions of a character. Use this technique to arouse the readers interest and create suspense. Give small hints to make the reader wonder, think, guess and grow concerned about the upcoming conflict. The character can either be discussing it with another character or simply thinking about it in their head. Either ways this is a perfect opportunity to use dialogues and convey information.

Use dialogues when the plot needs to move ahead :

Instead if writing the actions or events, add dialogues to show how the plot moves ahead. Use it to create turning points in the scene.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret, this dialogue engages the reader with the plot rather than just informing the reader what happens in a narrative format.

“Not today, Mr. Weasley,” said Dumbledore. “But I must impress upon both of you the seriousness of what you have done. I will be writing yo both your families tonight. I must warm you that if you do anything like this again, I will have no choice but to expel you.”

Can you give some tips in good dialogue writing?

There definitely are many tips which a writer can use :

Mimic a real life character…think of someone you know in real and make the character speak like them. It will be easier to write and will also get you comfortable in the skin of the character. Eg, the detective in your whodunnit can speak like your mom.
Avoid boring useless dialogues.

Eg

Character 1 : Hi

Character 2 : Hi

Character 1 : what are you doing

Character 2 : nothing. What are you doing

Dialogues like this can be avoided unless the plot demands such bland words. Put on your thinking caps. Find fresh and interesting ways to write Dialogues.

Give out plans, secrets and technical information through Dialogues. This can be easily conveyed without sounding like a boring report where one character is explaining it to another character.
Use colloquial language. If you character is a native of a certain region, research and use the local phrases in Dialogues. That will give som much value to that character for the readers. Dialogues portray a scene vividly and breathe life into the characters.
Don’t forget correct punctuation. This though part of proof reading, is a very important element that should not be overlooked.
So, put on your writers cap and start writing brilliant stories with even more fantastic dialogues.

I end with an excerpt of a dialogue from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Notice how the dialogues are dynamic, lively and give us information expertly compared to plain narrative writing.

“Unfortunately I got stuck on the Earth for rather longer than I intended,” said Ford. “I came for a week and got stuck for fifteen years.”

“But how did you get there in the first place then?”

“Easy, I got a lift with a teaser.”

“A teaser?”

“Yeah.”

“Errrr, what is…”

“A teaser? Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets which haven’t made interstellar contact yet and buzz them.”

“Buzz them?” Arthur began to feel that Ford was enjoying making life difficult for him.

“Yeah,” said Ford, “they buzz them. They find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor soul whom no one’s ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennae on their heads and making beep-beep noises. Rather childish really.” Ford leant back on the mattress with his hands behind his head and looked infuriatingly pleased with himself.

“Ford,” insisted Arthur, “I don’t know if this sounds like a silly question, but what am I doing here?”

“Well, you know that,” said Ford. “I rescued you from the Earth.”

“And what’s happened to the Earth?”

“Ah. It’s been demolished.”

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha

Shruti Divecha is a professional writer for various newspapers, magazines and online publications. She writes feature and lifestyle articles, reviews, travel, mythology and GK nuggets. She also writes for a pan India Braille magazine. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Animation and Design, both from USA. Additionally she is a qualified Steiner Education teacher, a certified Jolly Phonics and a Jolly Grammar educator. Before choosing the writing profession, Shruti was heading the graphic and textile design department in her mother’s Home Furnishings Export House and Factory.

The company was one of top exporters of soft furnishing’s and made-ups in India having clients like large European Departmental stores. She currently is a full time educator and conducts classes for children in Creative writing and English Enrichment. You can connect with her at www.shrutidivecha.com

Writing A Great Mystery

Have you ever picked up a mystery book that hooked you from the word go, one you just couldn’t put down until the big reveal? Now that’s what a great mystery does. But the intrigue that makes the mystery a gripping one requires intricate planning and hours and hours of writing. Crafting a mystery, however, can be a very exciting and rewarding experience. It requires patience and perseverance and a knack for details. While mystery writing is an art, here are five tips that can aid you in your quest to create a great mystery.

Work Backwards
If you have the ending clear in your mind, it becomes easy to work backwards and figure out the clues that lead to the big reveal. You can work out different ways to move forward knowing where you have to reach. Once you have a basic way to connect the dots and reach the end, you can work out how to add subtle clues to raise the mystery quotient. It’s convenient to introduce twists and turns at this stage since you can never get lost knowing how everything turns out. Working backwards also helps you avoid loose ends.

Know The Crime
It is imperative that you know everything about the crime that your mystery revolves around. If you don’t, your story won’t be believable. You cannot write a mystery without knowing the who, what, where, when, why, and how. The how is especially important. If you gloss over the how, you can’t build a coherent road to the final reveal and your readers will feel cheated. That’s why you need to research everything you can about the crime, including the post investigative and legal aspects, if required, that can lend authenticity to the story.

Throw In Red Herrings
A mystery has clues that move the story forward. But if your readers can figure out the clues easily, there won’t be much of a story to tell. Instead, wouldn’t it be more fun to mislead your readers? In fact, they’re expecting it. After all, how else will you draw them in? These false clues, also known as red herrings, not only build the suspense but also create engagement with your readers. Your job is to nudge them in a particular direction and just as they’re beginning to feel smug about their deductive powers, you introduce a twist and leave them biting their nails.

Construct Convincing Characters
Character development is especially important when it comes to writing mysteries. This is because mysteries have suspects and if these suspects are one-dimensional or based on stereotypes, the story can quickly become boring. You want your characters to be complex because that’s how people are in real life. Your character development should be nuanced, revealing as much about their personalities and motives through speech as much as their actions. When your character development is strong, it adds a lot of flavour to the mystery and keeps the readers engaged.

Introduce Obstacles
While solving the crime is itself an obstacle, it’s necessary that you don’t make things easy for your characters, especially your protagonists. You don’t want them to discover clues easily. You don’t want them to have epiphanies. You need to make them work hard, to face peril, to struggle. While you do offer little victories, the greater the obstacles they face, the more magnificent their final triumph. And that is just what the reader wants as well. After all, they all know that the crime will be solved and the culprit apprehended. What they want to know is how exciting you can make it.

Here’s a bonus tip for all you mystery writers. If you want to write a great mystery, read as many mysteries as you can. You will not only enjoy the stories but also learn the art of mystery writing from other accomplished authors. You will also get exposure to different writing styles and get to understand the techniques used by them to heighten the suspense, throw readers off the scent, and pull all the elements together to create a riveting mystery.

So what did you think of our tips? Did any of them help? Write to us and let us know how your experience in crafting a mystery.

Prashant Pinge

Prashant Pinge

Prashant Pinge is an acclaimed author of children’s fiction. Prashant’s books, Raja & the Giant Donut (Leadstart Publishing) and Adventure on Wheels (Scholastic), were shortlisted for the Economist Crossword Book Award and the Raymond Crossword Book Award in the Children’s Writing (jury) category in 2011 and 2016 respectively.

The Mystery Of The Missing Archaeologist, has been published by Booksthakam, and will be released on Amazon on May 20, 2022

The Mystery Of The Missing Archaeologist: A Panchgani Detective Club Adventure

The newly formed Panchgani Detective Club comprising siblings Rhea and Rishi Agarwal and the Srivastava twins Anoushka and Ishaan decide to investigate the recent kidnapping of an archaeologist. They struggle to find clues until a pen drive mysteriously turns up at their school campus. The prime accused also happens to be the very same person who had earlier given evidence against the twin’s father, a former archaeologist. Things are further complicated by a couple of school bullies, a strict vice principal, and a campus break-in. And just as they’re on the verge of a breakthrough, things start going horribly wrong. The children must now use all their deductive powers to solve the case!

Here are the pre-order links to both the versions of the book:

book

Creativity The Game Changer For Children

Today’s fast-paced and digitally enhanced world demands us to be competitive and adaptable. Kids are no exception. The aspiration of watching children succeed in various fields on one hand and giving them a fun-filled childhood on the other is indeed a catch-22 situation for many parents today. How nice would it be to see our children enjoy everything that they do without feeling any kind of pressure! It is indeed possible to do so when there is creativity around.

Children relate to creativity based on individual perspectives. For some, it means to be artistic, for others to think out of the box while few look upon it as a means to the end. While all are right in their own sense, creativity can be a game-changer for children in their growing years.

Research has shown that children display maximum adaptability quotient from the age of 3 years to 14 years. They are curious, inquisitive and question things happening around them. If creativity is pursued during these years, with a conscious effort to make it a norm rather than an exception in everyday life, it would indeed have a marked effect on them. It would help them to imbibe qualities that would change their perspective towards everything from studies to sports and from relations to emotions. What are these qualities? Let us look at the most crucial ones.

Creativity makes children OPEN -MINDED. A simple school activity of submitting an essay can be presented in unique ways like an essay with a portrait of the personality, a collage of text and pics or an essay submitted with calligraphy art, thanks to creativity. We often come across children who question why trees can’t be purple or why our hair can’t be in a shade of green instead of the usual colors. These seemingly childish questions display their creative bent and need to be nurtured rather than corrected.

It makes their THINKING NON-LINEAR. Armed with it, kids do not shy away from problems or issues faced by them. They rather take it as a challenge and try to find alternative ways to crack it while making it fun. Learning important historical events using acronyms or specially formed sentences is one such example. Children who are interested in coding often find themselves drawn to solve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) problems. Interestingly, they apply the coding logic to a completely different activity like learning a musical instrument and make it fun.

Creativity makes children RESPECT EFFORT & FAILURE. When they try to do things differently, they may not succeed in the first instance. However, renewed efforts to fulfil the task at hand with the intended results make them appreciate the time invested to do it. They do learn many things in the process even though success and satisfaction elude them the first time. The ability to accept failure and move on from it towards success helps them in all aspects of their lives. Let’s think of a situation where a child has been assigned the task of building huts for a school science project. She decides to make huts of different sizes and different materials. She might not succeed in the first attempt. After many attempts however, she finds the most apt one for making the huts. The additional knowledge gained in this activity would help her on some occasion if not in this instance.

Creativity builds IMAGINATION. Albert Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Kids have unhinged imagination. Its right tapping can make them realise their hidden potential and likes. While creating an artwork a child’s desire to write a few lines about the artwork makes him/her realise his ability of creative writing. A simple activity of helping a senior citizen might motivate a young teen to develop an app to benefit them.
Creative children display a higher EMOTIONAL QUOTIENT. It makes them active listeners & doers. They explore, discover, and communicate any creative process and realize the value of others’ thoughts & opinions. It also makes them accept criticism and channel it positively.

Creativity builds CONFIDENCE. It helps them to try, experiment and innovate. They believe in themselves and their ability to carry out a task differently. It also builds SELF-ESTEEM. We all know the proud look on our children’s faces when they do small things for us like making a greeting card, doing a surprising chore or exhibiting a new hobby that they have learned.
It makes children HAPPY. Creativity in any form gives us positive thoughts. This positivity percolates into an optimistic demeanour which makes them enjoy everything they do.

When creativity is imbibed as a behavioural trait it changes their perspective and outlook. They become SOLUTION SEEKERS Their minds instinctively react to situations to make them better, find a way out, and better the existing. They accept challenges not with fear or because they must, but knowing that they can cope with them. They seek enjoyment in every single act of theirs. They find satisfaction in being creators and explorers. It assures them of their abilities. Aren’t these things that we want our children to have more than anything?

Creativity is thus the game-changer that can make children have a unique and distinct identity of their own. What are you waiting for? Let your child embark on this journey and find his / her trueself!!!

By Geetanjali Padoshi

Himanshu Nimbhorkar

Himanshu Nimbhorkar

Himanshu Nimbhorkar works as a freelancing assistant director on feature films, has written a yet to be aired television show, and independently writes and directs shorts (fiction as well as documentaries).

He has previously got his work screened at the prestigious Mumbai-based MAMI Film Festival, Los Angeles-based Lift-Off Sessions, etc.

The Mountains are calling and i must go

‘Mist fills the Himalayan valleys, and monsoon rain sweeps across the hills. Sometimes, during the day, a bird visits me—a deep purple whistling thrush. She perches on the window sill, and looks out with me at the rain.’

These are the opening lines of ‘A book of simple living’, another instance of the great Ruskin Bond weaving magic with his words. The legendary Anglo-Indian writer known for his beautiful stories set along the Himalayan foothills, has till date written more than 500 books across fiction and non-fiction categories spanning across a 7 decade long writing career. Need I say anything more?

Little heartwarming stories, majorly set in the picturesque hilly areas are a treat for readers across the country and abroad. Precise, clear and descriptive, his writing style is fairly simple yet impactful, or maybe it ends up creating an impact because of its simplicity. Words and emotions stay with you, making a tiny home in your heart as you go on reading one Bond book after the other. It would be an understatement to call it an equivalent of a beautiful magical piece unfolding right in front of your wide open eyes.

Writing has never been a chore for the master, as he spoke about it at length in one of his recent interviews. The thing which mattered the most for him was (and still is) to be able to enjoy his writing, may it be fiction, memoirs or poetry. A basic yet highly significant point to be noted.

Born on May 19, 1934 in Kasauli, Punjab States Agency in British India, Bond developed a fascination for the artform from a very young age. He lost his father at the age of 10 and lived with his stepfather thereafter, which gave him many life lessons. He wrote extensively while still being a kid and won several writing competitions at his school.

Post schooling he went abroad to his aunt’s place in the UK, where he wrote his very first novel named ‘The room on the roof’. It was influenced by his experiences and stories of the time he spent back in Dehradun and his small rented room on the roof. Thereafter Bond returned to India. He continued doing freelance writing for newspapers, magazines, etc. He shifted his base to Mussoorie. Post 1980s Penguin got set up in India and by the next decade Bond published his 2 novels through the publishing house (his very first work ‘The room on the roof’ and its sequel ‘Vagrants in the Valley’ which was also penned by him decades back). Eventually he went on to write more than 500 books spanning across formats but bound together by his maddening passion and love for the art of writing.

Nooks and corners of Himalayas where he spent his childhood and growing up years are visible in his writings. His text is characterized with pure optimism, solitude, beauty and a sweet childlike innocence. His books are vastly popular amongst children. On the same, Bond had once commented “I had a pretty lonely childhood and it helps me to understand a child better.” He also went on to say that he tries to strike a positive note when writing for children and feels a certain responsibility as an author. “In India, not enough importance is given to writing for children. And what could be more important than the enrichment of young minds with great literature? This is when we discover ourselves, our own potential, and, more often than not, we’ll do it through what we read and write”, he added. His first children’s book named ‘Angry river’ was published in the 1970s. And then opened the floodgates.

‘Our trees still grow in Dehra’, ‘Roads to Mussoorie’, ‘The Night train at Deoli’, ‘Rusty, the boy from hills’, ‘Rain in the mountains’, ‘Delhi is not far’, ‘Time stops at Shamli’, ‘Tales of Fosterganj’, ‘The Cherry tree’, ‘The tree lover’, ‘A book of simple living’, the list goes on and on and on. His novels ‘A flight of pigeons’ and ‘The blue umbrella’, both got adapted into films. Bond’s favourite genres (formats) happen to be essays and short stories.

Other than the countless number of laurels and accolades received in India and abroad, he has been bestowed with the highly prestigious Sahitya Akademi award, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. The Indian Council for Child Education has also recognised his role for the growth of children’s literature in India.

His vast endless body of work is a must read for children and adults alike. It teaches you the importance of love, warmth, beauty and everything that you need to live a quiet, contented, happy life. The world seems to be a better place to reside while holding a Ruskin Bond book in hand and smiling innocently as you turn one page after the other.

Let the 80 something little boy give you a few words of wisdom. “Book readers are special people, and they will always turn to books as the ultimate pleasure. Those who do not read are the unfortunate ones. There’s nothing wrong with them; but they are missing out on one of life’s compensations and rewards. A great book is a friend that never lets you down. You can return to it again and again and the joy first derived from it will still be there.”

So when are you picking up that one little bundle of happiness, to begin with?

Himanshu Nimbhorkar

Himanshu Nimbhorkar

Himanshu Nimbhorkar works as a freelancing assistant director on feature films, has written a yet to be aired television show, and independently writes and directs shorts (fiction as well as documentaries).

He has previously got his work screened at the prestigious Mumbai-based MAMI Film Festival, Los Angeles-based Lift-Off Sessions, etc.