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21 Feb 2012
Meet the Young Author of "From No to Yes Chemistry!"

Kshitija M Shetty of St Mira's School (Pune) was one of the winners of the HP Write&Read workshop with her entry titled 'From No to Yes Chemistry!' Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Kshitija M Shetty - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
It is a funny little story of two friends who initially found the subject-Chemistry boring and were not fascinated about it. But after going through a series of unusual situations and adventures, they developed a liking for it.

The inspiration:
I always wanted to write a science-based story which would not only entertain children and elders, but also attract them towards Science. I chose chemistry as the story base as it is mystifying in itself. The moment you get the general sense about the subject you will find every minute object a mystery yet to be revealed.

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13 Feb 2012
Ranjeeta Lenka - Illustrator for 'From No to Yes chemistry'

About my illustration for By Us For Us: I was thrilled beyond words when I got this project from Katha. This was the first time I was getting a chance where children would be able to see my illustrations. Later, when I got to know that this project would be a part of a bigger Write & Read campaign, it made the whole work even more meaningful to me and added to my motivation. Funnily, I remembered my own childhood aversion to chemistry. So imagining the story into visuals was kind of thinking about my own schooldays. Turning a bit of those memories into simple and colourful artwork for children was quite a lot of fun.

My inspiration for the visual:
My inspiration for the visuals was my own schooldays because as a child even I disliked chemistry. Besides, reminiscing about my school days helped create a style which would ring true with the young readers. A little research and seeing lot of other great illustrator's work also helped a lot.

Ranjeeta Lenka - Illustrator for From No to Yes chemistry
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10 Feb 2012
Urmila Shastry - Illustrator for 'Rover the Dog' and 'Beaten Black and Blue'

About my illustration for By Us For Us: I created illustrations two short stories in the book, 'Rover the Dog' and 'Beaten Black and Blue'. Both the stories had an element of suspense, but were largely upbeat, so I tried to keep the images bright and cheerful. I created character sketches and backdrops that utilized the details in the story and added more from my imagination.

My inspiration for the visual:
What I found interesting about 'Beaten Black and Blue' was that the protagonist was a world weary suitcase! It was interesting to give the suitcase, the hero of the piece, personality without making it human. 'Rover the Dog' on the other hand, was a little girl's search for her dog. As I read the story, I could visualize in my mind, lots of clutter as she searched frantically and these details are what I tried to incorporate in the larger frames.

Urmila Shastry - Illustrator for Rover the Dog and Beaten Black and Blue
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7 Feb 2012
Meet the Young Author of "Rebirth"

Nidhi Ravishankar of GEAR Innovative International School (Bengaluru) was one of the winners of the Write&Read workshop with her entry titled 'Rebirth'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Nidhi Ravishankar - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is about a rosewood tree in Bandipur Forest, who learns that he is going to be ruthlessly cut down by humans to fulfill their greed. The story portrays the generosity of trees which give us food, oxygen, shelter, etc., and still goes on selflessly thinking of others. It also brings out the goodness of optimism and positive thinking.

The inspiration:
I have always loved being around trees and wildlife. But lately, the population of trees has come down drastically! I wanted to be the voice of these voiceless beings, and show people how lovely and generous these trees are. One should think, not twice but a thousand times before cutting even a single tree down.

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6 Feb 2012
Meet the Young Author of "True Friends"

Aishwarya Ramanath of National Academy for Learning (Bengaluru) was one of the winners of the Write&Read workshop with her entry titled 'True Friends'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Aishwarya Ramanath - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is about two friends who have their own demons because of the way the other children treat them at school. An attempt to be accepted by the popular group of girls, turns fatal for one of the friends, who then realizes the true meaning of friendship.

How HP Write&Read helped me:
This program helped me with my ideas by teaching me different styles of writing, be it fantasy or adventure. It also helped me hone my writing skills and I was glad to be part of the program.

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6 Feb 2012
Sanskruti Lakshmikanth - Winner Speaks

An elated Sanskruti Lakshmikanth shares her thoughts after winning at the HP Write&Read workshop. Her story VND's Trip to Fire has been published in By Us For Us, which is now on sale in bookstore across the nation and Flipkart.

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2 Feb 2012
By Us, For Us Book Reviews

Thanks to our blogger friends for reviewing By Us, For Us on their blogs. We are not surprised that they enjoyed reading this rich collection of stories on imaginary people, places and creatures. This is one breezy and colorful read you don't want to miss. Below is the review from a blogger. Visit this space for more reviews.

1) A Book Lands At my Doorstep; Do you want to know Which One?!! - Review on Sowmya's SS Storyteller Blog:

Review for By Us, For Us book on SS Storyteller Blog

Ever since I got a mail asking me to review Katha's latest contribution to the world of stories, I was doing a jig of anticipation in my own mental world as I am always ready to receive a book!

....And the book arrived at my door step pretty fast!

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1 Feb 2012
Teamea Francisca - Illustrator for 'Waiting To Bloom'

About my illustration for By Us For Us: I illustrated for a story written by Suhana Khan for the HP Write&Read project. I wanted to use a technique other than hand drawing on paper, so I thought it would be a good option to try working with clay. It was a little challenging as the colours and my skill were limited but I was able to create simple illustrations that worked well with Waiting To Bloom.

My inspiration for the visual:
I think the story has freshness, excitement and the enthusiasm for life. I was impressed by Suhana's writing and creative thoughts.

The creative process behind my illustration:
I did the conceptual sketches on paper. I thought of different viewpoints that I could use to create dynamism in the illustrations. I finally chose three sample scenes to be made in clay. The illustrations were made using moulding clay against white ceramic plates as the base, photographed and then transferred to Photoshop where I added the backgrounds.

Teamea Francisca - Illustrator for Waiting to Bloom
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31 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "Humans or Aliens"

Ananya Kumar of Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (Delhi) was one of the winners of the Write&Read contest with her entry titled 'Humans or Aliens'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Ananya Kumar - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story, which is titled 'Humans or Aliens' is basically about a girl's encounter with an alien, who has come from the planet Uranus. The alien shows her how nature is being destroyed every second and reminds her that saving the environment is like saving mankind. In the process, he opens her eyes to the horrors of continuing the way we are and not altering our course. He even tells her that on his planet they make sure to safeguard the environment and try their level best to protect it. In the end he leaves her wondering, who are the real aliens?

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30 Jan 2012
Surabhi Singh & Muthiah K - Illustrators for 'Branches of Life'

About our illustration for By Us For Us: The illustrations are shows the day span of old oak tree, where he encounters the events of a day n wonders about the complicated emotions of human race. The gold shows the grandness and richness of the trees experiences and thoughts.

Our inspiration for the visual:
The gold rich emotions, the sensitivity and point of view of a tree were the element which we were fascinated with. The more intelligent our brain gets the more complicated our emotions become. And this story is a beautiful blend of it.

Surabhi Singh & Muthiah - Illustrators for Branches of Life

The creative process behind our illustration:
First we doodled out various parts of the story, capturing the essence and adding value to the story through imagery. Then adding details that add charm and inking the illustration added soul to it that complements the text and completes the story.

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30 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "Bathrooms aren't boring!"

Shreya Punjabi of Arya Vidya Mandir (Mumbai) was one of the winners of the Write&Read workshop with her entry titled 'Bathrooms aren't boring!' Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Shreya Punjabi - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is all about this scientist who is currently inventing a time machine. The brushes and toothpaste in his bathroom are getting really bored. So, the toothpaste suggests going on an adventure in the scientist's time machine and that's exactly what they do! They go into the past and have an awesome adventure, unravelling the story of how brushing was invented.

The inspiration:
Ever since I was really young, I've always liked the concept of things coming to life. This is what actually inspired me. People all around me think nothing exciting ever happens with non- living things, let alone in bathrooms. Never! I really wanted to prove that wrong- so that is what I did!

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29 Jan 2012
Devaki Neogi - Illustrator for 'Bathrooms aren't boring'

About my illustration for By Us For Us:
My illustrations are a blend of emotions and pictorial sensibilities. I tried to keep up the fun and liveliness in them. There were a mix of forms, textures and prints which were used to portray the visuals that the story came up with. All the elements in the drawings were further defined with colours. The idea was to bring about a uniform organic feel to the finished illustrations and to bring into life the characters and forms which played an integral part of the story.

My inspiration for the visual:
The different perspective that a child can have as compared to us grownups inspired me. They can look at the same mundane things of everyday life differently and breathe life into it. This was the driving point in the story, which is where a simple imagination of the child played a role in setting up the flow and narrative of the story.

Devaki Neogi - Illustrator for Bathrooms aren’t boring!
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29 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "Don't ever study too hard!"

Madhavi Rao of National Academy for Learning (Bengaluru) was one of the winners of the Write&Read workshop with her entry titled 'Don't ever study too hard!' Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Madhavi Rao - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is about a girl who has a math test and finds out about it one day before her test. She is desperately trying to study in time for the test and has a crazy adventure in a library, is bombarded with jokes from her mother and even resorts to cheating! But a surprise is in store for the girl...

The inspiration:
My mother and father are really good at math and so am I, so I wondered how tough it would be for a person who is horrible at math to try and pass a test after studying for one day. This idea inspired me.

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28 Jan 2012
Shreya Sen - Illustrator for "True Friends"

About my illustration for By Us For Us: The story 'True Friends' is two pages long. I was given some formats which required four illustrations and some three. So I opted for a format which allowed one full page and two smaller illustrations as something I would be comfortable creating. The story has pre-dominantly two characters - Ekta and Zohra - and features two locations - the street and the hospital. The illustrations that I created with this book are hand drawn and digitally painted. I didn't do too much of clean-up as I wanted the pencil lines to show. I like the rawness of any work better than very polished ones. I kept the entire thing very colourful. I think kids like a lot of colour. Even as a kid myself, I have enjoyed books with lots of colour!

Shreya Sen - Illustrator for True Friends
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28 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "The Last Tiger"

Rudraveer Reddy of Arya Vidya Mandir (Mumbai) was one of the winners of the Write&Read workshop with his entry titled 'The Last Tiger'. Here he shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for his story.

Rudraveer Reddy - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is about a tigress who has to protect herself and her cub from the approaching poachers. Unfortunately, they are the last tigers on the planet. It is about her reminiscing over the depressive condition of the world and also her selfless love towards her cub.

The inspiration:
I had recently attended a workshop where I learnt that the danger tigers were in was graver than it initially looked like. I realized that this would also be a very unique topic that brings environmental issues to the forefront. I also felt that this was a very mature plot.

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27 Jan 2012
Archana Sreenivasan - Illustrator for "Save Me"
About my illustration for By Us For Us: The illustrations I created were for a story called 'Save me'. The illustrations try to capture key moments in the life of the caramel crow who is the protagonist of the story. They were made using acrylic paints. The colours of the illustration try to bring out the dominant mood or emotion of that particular scene.

My inspiration for the visual:
The 'Save Me' story had a good dose of drama and emotions in it. For example, the excitement around the birth of a caramel coloured crow, the caramel crow's growing arrogance, the anger of the other crows, and finally the regret that the caramel crow feels. The story concludes on an open-ended, poignant note, and so I tried to keep the last illustration also quite subtle, leaving it to the reader to imagine what happens next.
Archana Sreenivasan - Illustrator for Save Me

Archana Sreenivasan

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26 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "Vortex of the 2 Worlds"

Rakshita K L of GEAR Innovative International School (Bengaluru) was one of the winners of the Write&Read Workshop with her entry titled 'Vortex of the 2 Worlds'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Rakshita - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is a chemistry based fictional story.

The inspiration:
The Chemistry and Biology labs at school inspired me to do it. The chemistry subject first struck my mind. Then I found a bottle of acetone, which gave me the first piece of the story.

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26 Jan 2012
Nimisha Saikia - Illustrator for "The Perfect Gift" and "The Rise of the Sunflower"
About my illustration for By Us For Us: For The Perfect Gift, I painted the illustrations digitally to remain true to the futuristic theme and also tried to retain the hand-painted feel by using customized brushes. For the Rise of the Sunflower I went back to my childhood roots and pulled out my watercolor tubes and some old brushes to bring about the playfulness and the innocence of the theme.

My inspiration for the visual:
Both the stories have a resounding theme of innocence but the setting in which they are based is starkly different from each other. The Perfect Gift speaks of a world which is overwhelmed by futuristic technology and the demise of the Earth's ecosystem, yet the protagonist of the story is able to retain the old values of love and attachment. Visually, it was a challenge to create a futuristic world on a planet such as Mars and incorporate some cultural cues too.
Nimisha Saikia - Illustrator for The Perfect Gift and The Rise of the Sunflower

Nimisha Saikia

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25 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "Branches of Life"

Dhwani Yagnaraman of Vidya Valley School (Pune) was one of the winners of the Write&Read workshop with her entry titled 'Branches of Life'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Dhwani Yagnaraman - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
Branches of Life is all about people and the way they behave, depending on their age and what they've been through. It's actually told from the perspective of a tree and revolves around everything I've observed about people I know. It's more of a descriptive story filled with imagery than an eventful one. I've tried to keep it simple yet different.

The inspiration:
Inspiration strikes me at odd times. I get most of my inspiration from nature. I've always been fond of trees and I wanted to try writing from a different perspective. I usually write in first person so I chose this idea. And then, I just made it up as I went along.

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24 Jan 2012
Kinshuk Surjan - Illustrator for "An Adventure in Dreamland and A Dream Come True"

About my illustrations in By Us For Us:
I illustrated for two stories - an Adventure in Dreamland and a Dream Come True.
Both of the stories had a twist in the end. And so even the illustrations needed to keep the secret and build it up. 'An Adventure in Dreamland' required a dark mysterious tone involving the mythical character of telkhine (a monster that is half human and half dog). 'A Dream Come True' was a light hearted story where the usual love-hate relationship between siblings is delightfully portrayed. For this, the illustrations required a more vivid palette of colours.

My Creative process involves...:
Daydreaming, reading and doodling

Kinshuk Surjan - Illustrator for An Adventure in Dreamland and A Dream Come True

Kinshuk Surjan

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24 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "The Perfect Gift"

Aniruddh K Budhgavi's of Army Public School (Bengaluru) was one of the winners of the Write&Read contest with his entry titled 'The Perfect Gift'. Here he shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for his story.

Aniruddh K Budhgavi - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is set in the far future, when Mars has been colonised by humans. Everyday life is filled with mindboggling technology, in this situation a boy comes back to earth for a field trip. He is also searching for a special gift for his grandma, and he finds it here on earth- a long lost treasure!

The inspiration:
I read a news article saying books could become obsolete in the next 10 years. I felt bad about this since I am a bookworm. I imagined a world without books and I wove it into a story with the help of the HP Write&Read workshop.

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23 Jan 2012
Abhijeet Kini - Illustrator for 'The Man U Fever' and 'VND's Trip to Fire'

About my illustration for By Us For Us: Both stories that I illustrated for had their own tone, mood and of course characters. So for 'The Man U Fever' we had to show some sort of ghostly apparitions, which mind you, are not supposed to scare the readers but add a little suspense factor to the reading. 'VND' was about a particular Dragon, and the story overall had a nice friendly feel to it- reminded me of Roald Dahl stories!

My inspiration for the visual:
Man U Fever had a sense of intrigue and creepiness that was important to the story. For VND's Trip to Fire there was a cuteness angle to something as dangerous as dragons. This paradox was interesting to illustrate.

The creative process behind my illustration:
The process while illustrating for any story is that you have to imagine the scenes as you read. Then you pick the best scenes and angles and draw them. The challenge is to show the main aspects of the scenes in one panel or frame, but then again, that's the interesting part too.

Abhijeet Kini - Illustrator for The Man U Fever and VND's Trip to Fire

Abhijeet Kini

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22 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "VND's Trip to Fire"

Sanskruti Lakshmikanth of Navadishi Montessori School (Chennai) was one of the winners of the Write&Read contest with her entry titled 'VND's Trip 2 Fire'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for his story.

Sanskruti Lakshmikanth - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is about a dragon who wants to breathe fire. The story tells about his adventures while looking for fire.

The inspiration:
The urge to compete was the only inspiration. I had not prepared the story before hand and it was impulsive.

How HP Write&Read helped me:
I learnt lots rhymes and stories. I also got to go on a trip to Delhi.

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21 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "An Orange Adventure"

Jyotsna G. of Kendriya Vidyalaya IIT (Chennai) was one of the winners of the Write&Read contest with her entry titled 'Orange Experience'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story:

Jyotsna G - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is about the adventure of a girl whose daily routine takes an unexpected turn. She discovers a new world - not anywhere in outer space - but on our own planet. The story revolves around life in that world, an escape and has an ending with a twist.

The inspiration:
I have always felt fascinated about new worlds and new people. I felt that there was a new world somewhere very close to us, just under our noses, but out of the bounds of our knowledge. This instinct formed the inspiration. I have also felt thrilled about the relativity of time which plays a part in the plot.

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20 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "An Adventure in Dreamland"

Bhhavya Kapoor of DAV Public School (Pune) was one of the winners of the Write&Read contest with her entry titled 'An Adventure in Dreamland'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Bhhavya Kapoor - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
In my story, a boy named Mike Silvertongue narrates an adventure he had with a creature known as a Telkhine and how he discovers it in his school backyard. But later on, Mike reveals that he was just dreaming!

The inspiration:
I loving reading fiction and fantasies. I ended up writing this story after being inspired by all the books I read.

How HP Write&Read helped me:
The many workshops and activities conducted by HP helped me a lot.

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19 Jan 2012
Meet the Young Author of "Save Me"

Anoushka Agrawal of Bombay Scottish School (Mumbai) was one of the winners of the Write&Read contest with her entry titled 'Save Me'. Here she shares a bit about the experience and the inspiration for her story.

Anoushka Agrawal - Winner of Write&Read Contest

About my story:
My story is about a very rare-colored crow, who, because of his beauty, becomes extremely egoistic and crowns himself King of the Crows. The other crows, seeing the once adorable and innocent crow becoming so full of himself, throw him out. The scared crow flies away, not only from his community, but from the crow he had become.

The inspiration:
I have always had a love for animals and birds, and this crow, whose name is Caramel, was a lot like us humans. I enjoy writing as different people/animals, and imagining myself as a crow to write a story made me enjoy it.

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18 Jan 2012
By Us, For Us - Now On Sale

By Us, For Us - the collection of winning stories from the Write&Read story writing contest is now available for sale. Visit a location near you (from the list below) to pick up your personal copy of this fun and lively bedtime read. The perfect gift on Mars, the story of why cats and dogs became enemies, a life-changing Chemistry class…there are so many terrific stories in this page turner of a book!

All proceeds from book sales will go towards helping Katha fund their education programs in underprivileged parts of the country. So, here’s a chance to pick up a great read and make a difference, in the process!

HP Write&Read Book
Click Here for Purchase Locations
30 Nov 2011
Book of Winning Stories from Write&Read is Launched

Write&Read: By Us, For Us - the book of shortlisted stories from our story writing contest was released at a stirring book launch function held in Delhi yesterday. Present at the launch were Prasoon Joshi as well as ten of the winners and their families. Addressing the group, Prasoon Joshi described how difficult it was to cull the 'refreshingly original and creative' entries in the contest down to the final list of 29 stories. Katha will now help to place the book in libraries across the country and it will also be available for purchase for Rs 375. Proceeds from book sales will be donated to schools operating in underprivileged communities in Delhi, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh.

Revisit this site for more updates, program highlights and pictures from the book launch.

Here is the final list of 29 - the winners and their stories:

Nidhi Ravishankar Rebirth Gear Innovative International School Bengaluru
Bhavya Kapoor An Adventure in Dreamland DAV Public School Pune
Aniruddh. K. Budhgavi The Perfect Gift Army Public School Bengaluru
Aishwarya Ramanath True Friends National Academy for Learning Bengaluru
Rakshita K L Vortex of the 2 Worlds Gear Innovative International School Bengaluru
Saee Bhujbal The Rise of the Sunflower DAV Public School Pune
Kshitij M. Shetty Running Away from Chemistry St Mira's School Pune
Natasha How Cats and Dogs Became Enemies G G International School Pune
Rizwan M. Amlani Big J and the Bus Driver Erin N Nagarwala Day School Pune
Dhwani Yagnaraman Branches of Life Vidya Valley School Pune
Vinyasree Vinod A Dream Come True Kendriya Vidyalaya IIT Chennai
R Anirudh Where is my Mother? Kendriya Vidyalaya IIT Chennai
G. Jyotsna Orange Experience Kendriya Vidyalaya IIT Chennai
Sanskruti Lakshmikanth VND's Trip 2 Fire Navadisha Montessori School Chennai
M Runeeth The Man'U Fever Sri Vidya Academy School Chennai
Melisa Chen The Greatest Treasure Loreto Day School (Dharmatala) Kolkata
Sayantan Chakraborty The Hour known as Earth St James's School Kolkata
Rudraveer Reddy The Last Tiger Arya Vidya Mandir (Juhu) Mumbai
Aditya Das No HA-HAS, Please! The Heritage School Kolkata
Akangsha Saha Rover the Dog Loreto Day School (Dharmatala) Kolkata
Nandini Kejoriwal Beaten Black and Blue (The Autobiography of a Suitcase) Dhirubhai Ambani International School Mumbai
Shreya Punjabi Your Bathroom isn't exactly boring... Arya Vidya Mandir (Juhu) Mumbai
Suhana Khan Waiting to Bloom Dhirubhai Ambani International School Mumbai
Madhavi Rao Don't ever study too hard! NAFL Bengaluru
Anoushka Agrawal Save Me Bombay Scottish School Mumbai
Aakansha Agrawal Sophie and the Dream Island Arya Vidya Mandir Juhu Mumbai
Anupriya Aggarwal The Changing Lights Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Delhi
Amola Mehta My Cat, Her Majesty Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Delhi
Ananya Kumar Humans or Aliens? Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Delhi
28 Nov 2011
What Makes a Book's Character Memorable?

Ask any avid reader what stood out for them in the stories that they have read and loved and most of them would probably name a few fictional characters. If you pick up a book with a well-defined character that you can relate to or feel for, your emotional investment in the book immediately goes up. This character doesn't have to be perfect and may not always behave sensibly or rationally. After all, flaws and warts make a character more interesting by introducing some grey into the pattern of black and white. Most memorable fictional characters have a dash of mystery, a measure of complexity, a dose of irresistible charm or some other personality quirk that makes you root for them from page 1:

Here are a few characters from books that we think are definitely memorable:

Sherlock Holmes: No other literary character is as well sketched out - in physical or intellectual terms - as the resident detective of Baker Street.

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24 Nov 2011
Young Reader Classics: Our Top 10 List

It is an exciting time to be a child, especially one who prefers to keep his or her nose buried in a story book. Not only are there are plenty of newly released titles written for the young, there is also an entire world of reading waiting to be discovered in the classics of yesteryears. Some may question their current day relevance and wonder: are the classics dated? Will children today find them tedious and slow reading? We think not! Some of the books named below might have been written over a hundred years ago but they all have a few things in common - including a great story and unforgettable characters – that make them timeless as works of literature. Here is a list of our top classic reading choices (not a complete list, by any stretch of the imagination):

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Jules Verne serves up unparalleled science fiction in this story featuring the exploits of Captain Nemo and his crew aboard the submarine Nautilus.

David Copperfield: No other adjective describes Charles Dickens's work better than the one derived from his name: Dickensian. In David Copperfield, however, he pulls his main character out of an unhappy childhood and into a series of interesting encounters with the likes of Uriah Heep and Aunt Betsey.

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17 Nov 2011
Part 1 Ends...but the Story Continues

Write&Read was launched as a program by HP India to uncover excellence in creative writing in the stories of young children across India. And now, having culled the list of story contest entries down to the winners, we have arrived at the end of this initial quest.

We began the journey by connecting with an NGO (Katha) that is passionate about writing, reading and all things related. Along the way, we were inspired by the writers, poets and playwrights who agreed to facilitate the workshops as well as by Prasoon Joshi who energized several of these workshops with his spot-on advice. Their fire fueled the program and their expert guidance gave it wings.

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16 Nov 2011
BOOKS AND MOVIES - A Connection Made in Production

Wherever there is a good book, a movie is likely to follow. Books are great as fodder for movies. For a movie producer, a compelling story with interesting characters and an exciting plot can make his or her job infinitely easier. All they have to do is find a competent scriptwriter to create the screenplay - the film version of the story complete with dialogues, movements, actions and expressions - and they are well on their way to a blockbuster release.

So it's no surprise that, throughout the history of cinema, many books have found new life on the big screen. A few recent cinematic adaptations that come to mind are:

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
The Bridge to Terabithia
Alice in Wonderland
Charlotte's Web
The Chronicles of Narnia
Ella Enchanted
The Harry Potter series

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11 Nov 2011
Write&Read: What's Still Ahead

It was no easy task - combing through more than 1400 pieces of fiction spanning fantasy, mystery, drama, humor and many other genres. We were drawn into the plots of some stories, charmed by the characters in others and impressed by the narration techniques used in the rest. We have managed to shortlist them, however, to the ones we felt best captured the essence of great storytelling. You will soon find out which ones they are when we notify participating schools in the six cities where our workshops were held. The big date to mark on your calendars is November 29. That is the date when THE BOOK - featuring the winning short stories from the contest - is slated to be released at a launch function in Delhi. The book will subsequently be distributed by Katha and will be available for sale in major bookstores across the country.

Watch this space for more updates!

Posted by HP Write&Read
02 Nov 2011
Science or Art? Notes From the 6th (and Final) Write&Read Workshop

And so we arrived at the final stop in our cross-country journey: Mumbai on October 21 and 22 with the last of six workshops designed to decode the creative writing process. Prasoon Joshi was there on Day 1 much to the excitement of the participants. As he took the floor to address their questions, the room was charged with their positive energy. The lyricist and creative mentor didn't disappoint. Mixing encouragement with humour, he deftly guided the children through the intricacies of plot, setting, character and other essential elements of storytelling.

So is creative writing an art or science, we had asked Prasoon at the Bangalore workshop. "If you travel down the path [of story writing], it gives you a combination of both art and science" he replied. "But it happens organically. I have reservations terming it a scientific approach or just calling it art. Everyone organically develops a certain [individual] style. And that style has [elements of both] authentic art and authentic science."

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20 Oct 2011
Conquering Words in Delhi: Notes from the 5th Write&Read Workshop

They came. They imagined. They wrote. Paraphrasing Julius Caesar to describe the atmosphere in a creative writing workshop may seem misplaced. However, the young participants who thronged into the Delhi workshop venue last week were every bit as determined and focused as the famous Roman general. Leading the creative charge were the expert guides, Anupam Arunachalam and Trisha Ray who also facilitated our workshop in Kolkata.

More than 270 children from 22 Delhi schools were registered for the workshop, with girls outnumbering boys by a significant number.

Excitement filled the air on the second day of the workshop when the two prominent mentors of the program - lyricist Prasoon Joshi and Katha's Executive Director Geeta Dharmarajan - appeared before the young audience to answer questions and share their view of what makes for great storytelling.

The day had begun with an exercise in which participants had to scan their memories for favourite lines from stories they had read. Spells, lines and dialogues from the Harry Potter series were the popular choice, proving that the bespectacled wizard and his story continue to hold sway among young readers today.

The children were then given an hour to write the stories that would be entered in the contest. The participants settled down and the room grew so quiet that you could hear the sound of pens scratching paper.

Which of these terrific stories will make it into the short list and then into THE BOOK? It won't be too long before we find out!

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11 Oct 2011
A Conversation with Author Shinie Antony

Author Shinie Antony was brought in by Katha to help conduct the first of the Write&Read workshops in Bangalore where she guided the young participants through the techniques and finer details of story writing. We caught up with her later to get her take on books, children and related matters.

Shinie Antony

Q: What are your favorite children's books of all time?

'Journey to the River Sea' by Eva Ibbotson
'Daddy Longlegs' by Jean Webster
"Pollyanna' by Eleanor Porter

Q: Who are some writers whose work inspired you as you were growing up and why?

I liked Robert Browning, Ilayaraja and Sukumar Ray - for the rhythm, poetry and alliteration in their work.

Q: Which children's book character stands out for you and why?

I love Dobby, the house-elf in the Harry Potter series. He's a very quaintly etched character with interesting physical form and occupation. He is the perfect example of a minor character having such a strong connect to the main plot.

Q: How have reading habits and choices changed from your generation to your children's?

Reading and writing have become fashionable now. There is more variety in literature as well as genres, bookshops and workshops for children today. More and more children want to become writers.

Q: Where do you go for creative story ideas? Describe your best sources.

Stories come to you as you go about life. The best source is your environment. Your surroundings and how you react or adjust to these make up the tales.

Q: Outside of school, what can parents do to encourage creative writing talent in their children?

Listen when children spin yarns. Critique in a positive and constructive manner. Give the child infinite access to books, so that he/she is able to read, read, read. And let them do their own thing when they put pen to paper.

Shinie Antony is a Bangalore-based writer. She has compiled two anthologies --- 'Kerala, Kerala, Quite Contrary' and 'Why We Don't Talk'. She has also written 'Goddy Tales' for children.

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04 Oct 2011
Story Time in Chennai: Notes from the 4th Write&Read Workshop

The auditorium was packed by the time Manasi Subramaniam took over the stage to kickstart the fourth Write&Read workshop in Chennai. Manasi is the editor of Karadi Tales, the well-known publishing unit that uses its lovable mascot - Karadi the bear - to take children on an exploration of picture books, audio books and even stories made for TV.

The Chennai workshop highlighted the ingredient that lies at the heart of inspired writing: a strong urge to write! Several parents at the workshop talked about how their children loved to create stories and were sometimes frustrated in their attempts to find a platform for their creative output. That's why Jayanthi, the mother of fifth grader Vignesh, made sure she brought her son to the workshop even though he was on Dussera break. Or why Shailaja, the parent of a seventh grader at Sri Shankara School, was happy that her daughter was finally getting real direction and tips to improve at something that she was passionate about.

At the first Write&Read workshop in Bangalore, we posed this question to the program's creative mentor Prasoon Joshi: Are creative writers born or made? He thought for less than two seconds before replying that they were made; that exposure at an early age can take the seeds of interest and nurture it into something bigger and unstoppable. Writing, Prasoon said, is great because it's not a hierarchical talent restricted to a privileged group. Anyone can write - all they need is a little bit of internal fire and a lot of encouragement to keep it burning.

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28 Sept 2011
In the Land of Tagore: Notes from the 3rd Write&Read Workshop

Our 3rd Write&Read workshop was held in a city with a rich literary heritage which has supplied the cultural notes for the work of many writers - from the stirring poems of Rabindranath Tagore to the immigrant tales of Jhumpa Lahiri.

The environment was more serious this time around with the children listening attentively to and following instructions from workshop facilitators. By the time lead mentor Trisha Ray gave them their first serious assignment - the collaborative patchwork tale exercise - the children were clearly raring to go.

A student of English Literature as well as a published novelist, Ray was an able guide and resource to participants as they set out to mine their creative potential.

On Day 2, the children read out the first parts of the stories they had worked in groups to create. There were happy stories and sad ones; spooky plots as well as others featuring superheroes.

Parents and teachers at the workshop largely agreed that this was the kind of program that they would like to see more of. The general view of the group was that by providing an outlet for creative expression, such workshops can fill a current schooling gap.

Richa Wahi, a teacher from the Heritage School said: "Creative writing, as a subject, is very under-developed in our schools. That is why workshops such as these are important. They encourage students to express their ideas and to think like writers, and also gives them a chance to interact with students from other schools who share the same passion for writing."

Another workshop under our belt and yet another set of great stories enters the contest pool! Our selection committee will go through these stories and shortlist the ones that have the potential to be published in THE BOOK! We are excited and are sure that you are also..stay tuned for updates on this!!

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23 Sept 2011
Write&Read Strikes a Chord With Young Authors

With the third Write&Read workshop currently in full swing in Kolkata, we are now halfway into a program that has been dubbed 'a search for excellence..in creative writing'. In conversations with teachers, parents, writing mentors and children across cities, we have uncovered a tremendous amount of support for the program. Teachers have hailed it as 'important and much needed'; parents have described it as a great outlet for self-expression; mentors and facilitators have been overwhelmed by the response and levels of participation at the workshops; and the children themselves have been excited to be part of something that has elements of both learning and competition (by way of the story writing contest).

We captured some of these sentiments and other glimpses from our early workshops in Bangalore and Pune on tape. Enjoy!

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20 Sept 2011
Zest for Creativity: Notes from Write&Read Workshop 2 (Pune)

The second of our Write&Read workshops was held in Pune, drawing close to 350 aspiring writers from the city's schools. As in the first workshop, the young participants were engaged and eager to plunge into the immersive writing experience. The skilled facilitators included Sowmya Rajendran and Kala Ramesh, a writer and Haiku poet respectively, as well as other mentors from Katha.

Aspiring Writers from Pune

The first day's session began with an ice-breaking exercise where participants were encouraged to share a description of a real life character or setting. From there they proceeded to discuss the three main acts of a good story as well as elements such as conflict that add interest and depth to a narrative. The session also highlighted the thornier issue of plagiarism with facilitators stressing the importance of honesty in writing.

Participants sharing a description of a real life character

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16 Sept 2011
No Passport Required: Stories from the Hinterland

Books provide an escape - a ticket to a vastly different world from the one we live in. Just take a look at your own bookshelf to see how each title on it can transport you to a new land plush with novel experiences. Harry Potter pulls you into an intricate plot dominated by spells and magically gifted characters. In the Percy Jackson series, as Greek Gods and demi-gods run amok in the alleys of modern day New York, the reader is drawn into an epic clash of the old and the new. If time travel is your thing, then you could clamber onto the time machine in 'The Hunger Games' and fly out to futuristic Panem where children compete, unto death, in a major sporting event.

These stories and books are all set in time and space altered versions of Europe (UK) and North America. But India has a rich storytelling tradition as well and it is possible to seek similar reading experiences a little closer to home.

Katha, the facilitator of our Write&Read workshops, has several interesting reading choices in its latest catalogue - stories set in colorful Indian towns or vibrant time periods in Indian history. Here is a sampling of books from the Katha collection:

The Myna of Peacock Garden by Naiyer Masud (Age 10 and above): Translated from Urdu, this story is 'a poignant tale of a father's love for his daughter'. Here is Katha's abstract of the book: Work is on in full swing at the Royal Peacock Garden to install a wondrous cage that will house forty talking hill mynas. Soon, the cage and its lively, twittering occupants are entrusted to Kale Khan's care. But he steals a myna for his little motherless daughter who has long been asking for one. What lies in store for Kale Khan...and the beautiful historic city of Lucknow?

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07 Sept 2011
Prasoon Joshi Meets the Young Writers of Bangalore

When lyricist Prasoon Joshi walked up to face his young audience at our first writing workshop in Bangalore, he had questions flying at him from every direction in the room. Clearly, most of these children were passionate writers who truly wanted to understand the nuts and bolts of the creative process. Here are a few valuable pointers that Prasoon shared with the group:

  • On whether a concrete plot is essential to a story: A writer should not always decide where he wants to go; he should have the freedom to explore [as he writes]. Still you should have a central idea (or theme) that runs through your piece…something that I call the ‘the soul’ of the piece.
  • On imagery in writing: Your writing should be tactile; if you describe a flower, the reader should be able to see…and touch it.
  • On what inspired the moving lyrics of 'Meri Ma' from 'Taare Zameen Par': You have to go back to your own emotions; be faithful to your personal feelings. I recalled a time when my mother went on [a trip] and I was briefly separated from her as a child. That helped me convey the pathos in the song. Mothers, children, everyone loved it….because they could all relate to the raw emotion in it.
  • On whether a good story can be completely imagined: There are different schools of thought on writing. My own style is based on personal experiences. For writers, observation is very important; their visual library is richer than those of others because they have very keen powers of observation.
  • On whether characters should be realistic: If you can think of and imagine the character, so can others.
  • On looking at the world through the eyes of a child: 'Taare Zameen Par' allowed me to do that. There is so much we [adults] can learn from children; they approach everything with an open mind. Adults are more judgemental and tend to have preconceived notions.

The hands were still going up when we broke for a snack, something that the high energy group made an equally enthusiastic dash for. Whether the activity of the moment involved books or biscuits, these children made sure they gave it their undivided attention!

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06 Sept 2011
Be Print Happy With HP Creative Studio

At our first writing workshop in Bangalore, participants had a chance to check out the many visually inspired offerings in HP's Creative Studio. This is a website that is filled with a wide array of printable and customizable products; there is something for every occasion and to add color to any space.

Looking to create a scrapbook of time spent with friends? Or a poster that lends zip and pizzazz to your room? How about a greeting card with a special personal touch for a parent or grandparent?

The HP Creative Studio offers all of this and more for home users.

Take a tour of the Studio and download a printable treat or two!

HP Creative Studio

30 Aug 2011
Storytelling Unlimited: Notes from Write&Read Workshop 1 (Bangalore)

The first of our Write&Read workshops (facilitated by Katha) opened last week to a terrific response from Bangalore area schools. More than 190 students from nine city schools trooped into St. Joseph’s High School auditorium on Vittal Mallya Road ready for some deep dives into the creative writing process.

The three day workshop was designed to be a journey for its participants – to take them from point A to point B in their storytelling ability. Bangalore-based author Shinie Antony who conducted the many interactive sessions, kept them on track with encouragement, guidance and constructive criticism.

Between all the immersive exercises, writing muscles definitely got a workout during those three days. On Day One, participants had to work in groups to develop a gripping tale, paying attention to all the key elements of storytelling: an attention-grabbing title, a concrete plot, interesting characters, vivid imagery....

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26 Aug 2011
Firing Up Your Imagination
As we officially launch the Write&Read programme with the first of our creative writing workshops (run by Katha and featuring lyricist Prasoon Joshi) in Bangalore, we take a look at the inspiration behind a few famous stories.

Ever finished reading a page-turner of a book and marveled at the power of the creative process? Or wondered about what it takes to develop such a gripping plot and vivid characters? Surprisingly, some of the most imaginatively rich stories in children's literature are rooted in reality - inspired by incidents, experiences or encounters in the authors’ lives. Consider these examples:

  • As a child, Roald Dahl could hardly wait to grab one of the Cadbury’s chocolate bars that the company occasionally sent his school for taste testing by the students. This early obsession with the dark velvety treat served as fodder for the rollicking tale of Charlie and his adventures in Willie Wonka's chocolate factory.
  • "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is the original fantasy fiction novel - written well before that genre became as dominant as it is today. The idea for the story first came to C. S. Lewis when he was sixteen, with a mental image of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. He waited until he was in his 40s before sketching this out and developing it into a series of stories set in the magical world of Narnia.
  • Much has been written about how JK Rowling conjured up the Harry Potter stories on a train ride from Manchester to London. In interviews, the best-selling author has revealed that several of her characters were also loosely based on people she knew. The main character was reportedly inspired by a childhood neighbor, ill-tempered Aunt Marge by a grandparent who preferred "dogs to human relatives" and the enigmatic Professor Snape by a school teacher whose name Rowling has declined to reveal.

Each of these authors used a spark of an idea to fire up their imagination and create stories that are now forever installed in the halls of literary fame.

Have you written a story recently? What was the source of your creative spark?

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17 Aug 2011
Why Write&Read?
Neeraj Sharma, President of HP’s Imaging & Printing Group in India, describes how children are in danger of losing out on a key aspect of their cognitive development and how HP IPG’s Write&Read program has set out to change that.

With the advent of newer and faster computer technologies - call it digital media - there is a concern that we may be losing touch with the 'real world'.

We are living in a world where children, very early on, learn how to navigate their way around a PC or a tablet, a smartphone, satellite TV and automobile GPS. But this digital era also throws massive amounts of information at us. And lost in this sea of information is the simple joy of reading a story.

Information keeps us updated, but it is a story that touches our soul; it leaves a lasting impact on our character. Can you imagine how different we would be as people if we had not read the stories from our ancient scriptures? If, while growing up, we had bypassed the simple pleasures of reading an Amar Chitra Katha, or the Indrajaal comics, or the books by Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl, Ruskin Bond and countless others?

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29 Jul 2011
Foreword by Prasoon Joshi
Our writing mentor and famous lyricist Mr. Prasoon Joshi tells us how a good story has the ability to transcend barriers of time, language and more.

I am delighted to be part of this HP Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) initiative that will encourage children to write stories using their own imagination, their own language and have a little bit of them in the stories they create.

Writing and reading stories is a heritage we all share. Write and Read truly is a small but sure step towards preserving this precious heritage, one that will encourage children to think a while, pause a while, imagine, and write stories that make sense to them.

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Write&Read: By Us, For Us - the collection of winning stories from the contest is available in stores and on Flipkart.

Visit links: Stores, Flipkart
About Write&Read

Write&Read is a story writing program launched by Hewlett Packard India to spark the creative process in young children. The program will consist of a series of writing workshops conducted in association with Katha, an NGO that focuses on bringing quality reading and education to children living in poverty.

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