Battle for number 19:Ranjit Lall

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APRIL 12,2008

The Habitat Children’s Book Forum on April 12th ,featured the book-THE BATTLE FOR NUMBER 19,by leading children’s writer Ranjit Lal.A powerful story about 8 schoolgirls grappling with a vicious enemy in the stormy days following Indira Gandhi’s assassination,this gripping book highlights the moral dilemmas of young people in today’s violent world.

To speak a little about the author,Ranjit Lal was born in Kolkata and now lives in Delhi.He started out as a freelance writer and has more than 1000 articles and books under his credit.Some of his famous titles are ‘LIVES AND TIMES OF ALTU FALTU’;’THE CATTERPILLAR WHO WENT ON A DIET’;THAT SUMMER IN KALAGARH’,etc.

Children’s fiction has for long remained a female domain.But the success of Ranjit Lal is a clear indicator that it would not be so for long.Children not only love his books but also keenly await his next release.

‘BATTLE FOR NUMBER 19’ is a gender sensitive book since it shows the emotional turmoils,confusions,relationships and feelings of young girls of today.

This was a unique opportunity for children to interact with the author.The program was attended by children from schools all over Delhi like,Somerville Public School and Kothari International school ,Noida;Cambridge School,Srinivaspuri and so on.Four students from our school also attended the program.They are Nikhil Gupta,Saiyank Jayakumar,Rowena Jason and Khushboo Shah of class VIII.

Children interacted with the author and asked a lot of questions regarding the book.The reading session saw us move from passages that instilled horror and fear to comic and relief to thrill and suspense.The reading of the passages and the discussions that followed highlighted various points so that students could learn valuable lessons for life that would prove to be fruitful and rewarding.Ranjit Lal spoke about the dangers of a mob which is immense since they are mindless.Through his book he made children understand that teamwork can help overcome any obstacle.And in a situation as faced by the characters in the book its only team work that helped them surface from it.Group dynamics was an important lesson imparted by the author to the children.He helped them see that its through difficult and tense situations in life that we discover ourselves.

During the discussion it also came to light that the story was inspired by a newspaper article which carried a picture of 8 girls who had displayed bravery in their village in the hills of Himachal Pradesh.

All in all,the program was thoroughly enjoyed by the children and also appreciated by them,as it gave them a chance to know more about the process of writing,the inspiration behind it, and also the questions that arose in their minds were answered.Children are looking forward to participate in many such meets.These occassions definitely help instill interest in reading among children and will inspire many more to come.

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