Thursday, January 21, 2010

Karadi Tales' Will You Write With Me? Contest

From my inbox:
Karadi Tales, India’s pioneer and leading producer of children’s audio-books announces the ‘Will You Write With Me?’ contest. Here’s a chance to win a publishing contract with one of India’s foremost children’s publishers! The three best entries will be published in an audio-book narrated by the inimitable Jaaved Jaaferi. The winners will sign a publishing contract with Karadi Tales.

For details on the contest and to read the first half of the story, visit This contest is open to everyone! Entries must be received on or before 28 February 2010. Email your entries to
The first part of the story they want entrants to complete is pretty intriguing. If you intend to enter the contest, all the best to you!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: Akbar and Birbal by Amita Sarin

I was at one of my favorite book haunts in Bangalore, looking for books for my children when I came across a book titled Akbar and Birbal. It was on the shelf with other novels and non-fiction books targeted at teens and young adults, but it seemed like it would be a good introduction to a part of Indian history for my nine-year-old. I added it to the growing stash in my arms and gave it to him along with a book from the Lemony Snicket series and a couple of Ruskin Bond books.

As expected, he picked up the Lemony Snicket book first and later in the day moved on to Akbar and Birbal. I could tell he was tentative, not really sure what it was all about, but he gave it a shot. Half an hour later, he had not put the book down, which was a good sign. When he was done with it, he did not stop raving about it for days, recounting parts of the book that he liked best. He liked it enough to want to write about it. The indented text that follows below is his review of Akbar and Birbal. It was first published in Blogcritics Magazine for his own feature (!), A Kid With a View.

[Start] Akbar, the emperor, and Birbal, his top minister, were wandering through the streets of Agra disguised as ordinary men. They heard the yelling of a woman from inside a house. They both thought she had been screaming at her child. But to their surprise a man came sprinting out of the house. Akbar was furious. He could not believe that men in his kingdom were cowards. Birbal disagreed and said that while Akbar was a great king, men like the man who was running away from his wife were ordinary men and had to be kind to their wives or get kicked out of the house.

Akbar and Birbal argued for days and days. Finally Akbar called a meeting in his palace gardens. He invited all the married men in Agra. He then asked the men who listened to their wives to move to the left and the men who did not to move to the right. One man moved to the right. All the rest moved to the left.

Akbar told Birbal that he wanted to reward the man that had moved right. But Birbal asked the man why he had moved to the right. The man said that he did so because his wife told him to stay away from crowds!

Birbal had won the argument with Akbar. This was no surprise because Birbal's wit always outsmarted Akbar, and Birbal did it in the most clever way imaginable.

Akbar, the great Mughal emperor, lived from 1542 to 1605. He thought of himself as an incredible emperor, which is what he was. Birbal lived from 1528 to 1586. He was Akbar's most trusted advisor and a wise ambassador who found a way around war. Birbal helped Akbar see through problems that he could not fully understand. Birbal was an outstanding minister both to his people and his king.

Amita Sarin has narrated this book elegantly and in a funny way. I found myself smiling or laughing at the end of each story. The author has sneaked in some historical facts along with the anecdotes. The way Birbal solved problems stunned me.

This is a joyous book. Anyone can read it because it is a fantastic swirl of Indian history, Indian ways of life and hilarious descriptions of events.

Unbelievably, I thought this was going to be some boring history book my mom bought for me. Finally, I learned my lesson. Never judge a book by its cover or its blurb! [End]

I haven't read the book myself, yet. But needless to say, I am a fan already!

Update following Amy's (She Writes) comment: The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Flipkart (for readers in India).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Children's Summer Theater Workshop in the Washington, D.C. Area

From my inbox:

Adventure Theatre Announces the Summer Musical Theatre Workshop Productions Adventure Theatre, the longest-running children’s theatre in the Washington, D.C., area is kicking-off its 31st Annual Summer Musical Theatre Workshop for children ages 6-15 with an exciting line-up of children’s productions including Disney’s Aladdin Jr., Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids, The Magical Land of Oz and Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum*, each facilitated by professionally trained Directors, Choreographers, and Musical Directors.

The Summer Musical Theatre Workshop is a daytime workshop in which children audition for one of four age-appropriate productions, and will then participate in two full weeks of show rehearsals, music and dancing which culminate in a full-scale production of each show on the Adventure Theatre stage. Students will also attend Adventure Theatre’s main stage performance If You Give a Pig a Pancake, ride Glen Echo Park’s carousel, participate in a talent show, receive a commemorative t-shirt and enjoy a cast party.


Adventure Theatre’s Summer Musical Theatre Workshops run Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm, June 14th to August 27th. Before and aftercare options are available.

Session 1 (mini session)- June 14 – 18
Session 2 – June 21 - July 2
Session 3 – July 5- July 16
Session 4 – July 19 - July 30
Session 5 – August 2 - August 13
Session 6 - August 16 - August 27

For more information or to inquire about tuition prices, please contact Adventure Theatre’s Summer Musical Theatre Workshop Program Coordinator Selena Anguiano at 301-634-2275 or Also, visit for more information on the Summer Musical Theatre Workshop and other educational programs at Adventure Theatre.
It's time to plan for summer already!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Went Home and Came Back Home

I'm at my brother's desk at home in Bangalore, hogging his computer to check e-mails and check on what's going on in DC, making sure the house is still standing after that whopper of a snow storm (the house was still standing thanks to some truly fantastic neighbors). A dear friend comes online and as we begin chatting. At one point, I tell her I miss home. Radio silence for a few seconds as she digests that line.

"You're home and you're missing home? That's strange," she says.

Yes, I was home and I was missing home.

I was with my parents and my brother and my sis-in-law and nephew and loving every minute of it. A set of distinct memories that doesn't surface any other time made itself available. We laughed at all the jokes we've been laughing at for ... ahem... many, many years. We ate all the foods that we've grown up eating, feasted on the gossip that makes sense to no one else but us. But in the midst of it all, I missed my own kitchen and my bed and all the things my eyes can rest on when I'm in my own space.

So there - or here - I am. One foot there and one foot here. On the cusp.

But still, it's great to be back ... home. I hope you all had a good last few weeks and I wish the coming weeks and months treat you and your loved ones well.