Stories about ghosts and supernatural powers have always fascinated Bangalore-based author Shweta Taneja, who is also a contributor to Mint. Her book, The Ghost Hunters of Kurseong, released in September. And on Saturday, Taneja hopes to give children in the target age group of 9-13 an opportunity to live like the characters in her book at a “detective workshop” in Bangalore.
This will be the seventh such workshop. “I think book-reading sessions are boring for kids. So I wanted to involve them in any activity wherein they can become a part of Kartik’s world and a part of the story itself,” says Taneja, who organized the first workshop at the Bookaroo children’s literature festival in November in Delhi; she held a total of four workshops there, and two in Bangalore in December.
“The book revolves around the Iyer Bungalow, whereas in the workshop the children are given puzzles and situations revolving around the missing diamond necklace of Mrs Bannerjee, one of the characters in the book. The aim is for the children to come up with stories and narratives around this incident,” says Taneja, who has also written two graphic novels—Krishna: Defender of Dharma, she says, has been recommended as a must-read in the CBSE Schools Reading List 2013, and The Skull Rosary has been nominated in the Best Writer and Best Cover category for Comic Con India Awards 2013, the winner of which will be announced in February.
It’s not essential for children attending the workshops to have read the book. “The workshop has different stories (from the book), but I do introduce the kids to the first few chapters of the book that describe Kartik and encourage children to think like him. This way they get aware about the book as well,” says Taneja.
A maximum of 20 children can participate in the 1 hour, 15 minutes workshop. Children will get around 45 minutes to solve the puzzle on the basis of clues and the last 30 minutes will be reserved for them to draw the crime scene.
Taneja will first acquaint the children with the characters in the book, and the detective game. In the course of the session, she will give them five types of clues, including audio, visuals and anagrams. Then the children will be asked to draw the scene of crime to retell the story, which “pushes their analytical skills”.
The age group for children may be fixed but parents too can take part in solving the mystery. “There is no rigidity in the format. The target group of 9-13 years is fixed, as for my book, because the puzzles, format and clues are designed for this age group. A 14-year-old will find it very easy to solve this puzzle,” says Taneja.
Taneja is now in the process of creating another medium to reach children: an app in the form of an interactive book for smartphones. The idea is that readers will get to choose how each scene ends and depending on their choice, the story too will end differently.
“The idea is to get children interested in reading the books. When they have workshops like these and apps, it will only build their curiosity for reading more,” says Taneja, who is currently working on a series about a tantric detective based in Delhi. “Hopefully Book 1 of the series will be in the market at the end of 2014, and alongside, my detective workshops will continue,” she says.
The detective workshop, 11am-12.30pm, will be held on 25 January at Lightroom Bookstore, 35, First floor, Wheeler Road Cross, Bangalore . Workshop fee, Rs.150. For registration and workshop details, call 080-25460466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.