Mango Birds:Deepa Agarwal

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MAY 2,2009

On the sunny Saturday morning of 2nd May’09, I once again took the road to India Habitat Centre for a Book Discussion for younger kids. This time the book selected was “MANGO BIRDS” by Ms.Deepa Agarwal. The Book was aimed for the age group 8-10. So I was accompanied by 12 children of class IV. The author Ms.Deepa Agarwal needs no introduction but for those who are yet unfamiliar with her name here’s a little information about the famous writer.

Ms.Deepa Agarwal has won several awards for her writing in the Children’s Book Trust Competitions for Writers and two of her books have been listed in the international White Raven catalogue. Among other important honours, she has received the National Award for Children’s Literature for her picture book Ashok’s New Friends published by Children’s Book Trust, in 1992-93 and the first prize in The Asian Age short story competition for her story “Cradle Song”. Her story “Visitor’s Hour” published in Cicada magazine U.S.A. was recently a runner up in the Magazine Merit awards of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators, U.S.A. She also writes poetry and fiction for adults and translates from Hindi into English. Both her short story collection If the Earth Should Move…and her poetry collection Do Not Weep Lonely Mirror have received critical acclaim.

She has also contributed several articles on children’s literature to journals like Bookbird, the journal of the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Indian Literature, Writer and Illustrator, The Book Review and others and guest edited a feature on children’s literature for the well-known literary website http://www.museindia.com. The Austrian government and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India have awarded her fellowships to pursue her research in children’s literature.

Apart from this, Deepa is a resource person for Scholastic India and has conducted a large number of workshops on creative writing and storytelling sessions in schools. She is also the founder-organizer of the Habitat Children’s Book Forum, which meets at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi to bring children and books together and promote the reading habit.

So to celebrate the mango season with the kids Habitat Children’s Book Forum organized this Book Discussion cum Activity Session for them. The session began with a reading of the book. To tell a little about the story, it revolves a wild mango tree which feeds not only the wild animals in a forest but also the villagers. A man comes to the village from the city. An old woman gives him water to drink while her grandson gives him a mango. The mango tasted delicious than any mango he had eaten. He became greedy and plucked all the mangoes from the tree. But the animals of the forest stopped him and the mango grew wings. They became birds which are known as Golden Orioles.

An interesting fact about these birds is that they live in mango trees but do not eat the mango fruit. This amusing fact was unrevealed through the reading of the book. The reading was followed by a Crossword puzzle wherein children had to identify 14 fruits in the puzzle. This was thoroughly enjoyed by the kids. Next the kids had to draw their favorite scene from the book. All the kids present drew beautifully. Among the schools present, each one had to select the best among their lot which was put up on display. It is an honour for St.Mary’s School that the best from among our children ie. Rhythm of class IV-B was adjudged as the best among all those who were present for the function.

It was an interesting and learning experience as I came to know some yummy facts about mangoes and also about the fascinating Golden Orioles.

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