Tulika Singh has published five beautifully illustrated books for children. The books — ‘The boy who remained 16’, ‘Shabri Ke Ram’, ‘7 colours of Holi’, ‘Parijat’ and ‘The Princess Who Slept for Fourteen Years’ inculcate strong moral values among children by narrating joyful stories. All stories are part of SFS series- Stories from scriptures, an attempt to churn our ancient heritage and bring out stories which are evergreen and have stood the test of time. The author is a mother of two boys and while searching for the ‘right books’ for them, she realised there are hardly any appropriate books available for the children. Hence, she decided to pen down these stories that entertain as well as enlighten the young minds. ‘The boy who remained 16’ narrates a story about a 16-year-old boy who tries to find out the most important truth of his life during his final days. The intense story highlights two important aspects of human life which are faith and perseverance.
The story of ‘Shabri Ke Ram’ is about a small tribal girl who runs away from home to find answers to her inner conflicts. Her life changes when she meets a teacher who shows her the right path and who guides her to achieve her goal. The story demonstrates virtues of patience and inner strength. It conveys an essential message, that one’s caste, education, wealth or looks do not matter, and through devotion and simplicity, one can realise life’s essential meaning. The book ‘7 colours of Holi’ is a celebration of myriad emotions. The plot of the story revolves around the most colourful festival of India - Holi. The book has seven poems giving us reasons as to why we celebrate Holi. There are legends of Putna, Dhundhi, Shiva, Kaam, Radha, Krishna Yamuna and Balram. The book takes us on a journey to different parts of India and also teaches us a quick lesson how to make our own organic colour.
The book ‘Parijat’ brings us to a mythical, magical tree called Parijat which grew out of the ashes of a princess, whose bark was golden and bore clusters of fragrant flowers. The tree does not belong to the earth and was revealed by angels. The books stress on the ‘Power of mind’. ‘The Princess Who Slept for Fourteen Years’ is the story of Mithila’s princess, one of the most unsung characters of the Ramayana. She chose to endure rather than expressing herself and opted for dignified silence over name and fame. Tulika shares more on this with us—
How did you develop these stories?
All five published books of ‘Ashwatha Tree Books’ are from the SFS -Stories from Scripture Series and have been colourfully illustrated and retold by me. India has the greatest living oral narrative in the world but we are fast losing touch with our ancient scriptures and heritage which have stood the test of times. These books are my humble effort to restore and bring such stories to our children.
What made you to write books on children?
I love writing for children. Having said that, it’s quite a challenge to write for young minds as they are quick to reject the book if it doesn’t interest, thrill or scare them. On the other hand if you are writing for kids you are always in a good company.
What do you intend to convey through these books?
We as a nation are going through a tremendous change, and our children every day are seeing great disparities in the society. There is restlessness and confusion in their minds sometimes. Yet, we have a treasure chest of wisdom in our heritage and scriptures. These stories through the SFS series are an effort to awaken kids’ mental and spiritual potential and take them to new heights of creativity. All five books have been differently placed but they all have a central theme emphasizing on Nobility and Character.
Your thoughts on current scenario of children literature in India?
Children literature in India I feel is still evolving and in experimentation phase. Publishers and distributors are still shy of giving a chance to new writers and authors. Also the plethora of fables and stories which India has, have still been untapped and we are still swimming on very superficial levels.
WHAT IMPACT DOES BOOKS LEAVE ON CHILDREN
I believe Children’s book should be stimulating and something which touches the core of their very being. A good book has the capacity to bring a lasting impact on a child mind. As adult there is a huge responsibility on us to sow the seeds of right values in our children, as childhood is the time when lifelong habits and foundations of lasting characters are paved.