Between work and play

In its sixth year, this children’s literature conclave pushes the boundaries of writing, reading and making books

A moment from Jumpstart 2010.
A moment from Jumpstart 2010.

It is always good to be reminded of the “all work and no play” adage. In its sixth year, Jumpstart, the annual conclave dedicated exclusively to children’s literature and organized by the German Book Office (GBO), New Delhi, looks at the idea of play from several angles.

“Play refers to the state of mind that encourages exploration,” says Samina Mishra who, along with Anita Roy and Manasi Subramaniam, forms the programming team for this edition of Jumpstart. “This can be achieved while you are playing hopscotch or climbing a tree or even reading a book,” she explains. In different sessions and workshops with writers, readers and makers of books for children, this theme will be analysed from manifold perspectives—as a philosophical concept, a practical challenge, a marketable idea.

To be held over two days, 25-26 August, in New Delhi, the festival is going to have its first Bangalore chapter too this year, on 28 August. “We are not only crossing territories by taking it outside the Capital but also going interdisciplinary, venturing into a whole new world of children’s media,” says Prashasti Rastogi, the GBO director. “We have experts coming in from Germany, Hong Kong and France, working with illustration, pedagogy, theatre, games, animation, storytelling, publishing, and more.”

The star attraction is going to be Nury Vittachi—one of the most successful, prolific, and widely translated children’s books writers in Asia—who will deliver the keynote address. “He is a maverick,” says Roy. “A presence like him at Jumpstart ensures that we are not always looking towards Europe, but are equally aware of children’s writing in an Asian context.” Vittachi, who blogs under the pseudonym “Mr Jam”, is the founding chairman of the Scholastic Asia Book prize, the Asia Literary Review, the Man Asian Literary prize and the Australia-Asia Literary Award.

While Asha Nehemiah, a children’s writer from India, and Sophie Benini Pietromarchi, an author-illustrator from Italy, will discuss “The Idea Of A Game”, at least two of the sessions will be devoted entirely to hands-on
exploration of interactive reading. One of these will be on augmented reality. Anshumani Ruddra, a Bangalore-based author, game designer and screenwriter, will be conducting the second one with the aim of developing a “gamebook” by interacting with the audience.

“The content of children’s literature is migrating to virtual platforms,” says Roy. “We will be looking at the evolution of new forms of pedagogy that are trying to get the attention of children who are flitting between websites and hyperlinks.”

Grown-ups, too, will find much to hold their attention in these exchanges.

Jumpstart 2014 will be held from 25-26 August, 9.30am onwards, at India International Centre, New Delhi; and on 28 August, at Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore. Click here for details.

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