A BOOK IS BORN.
Having read the promos on Facebook and in the Herald about the launch of a new book for children entitled “Espi Mai is Stuck Again” by Anita Pinto, my curiosity was awakened enough to plan our first homeschooling educational field trip.
So, early evening around 4 pm, we all squeezed into our sturdy Maruti van and drove to Panjim to make it in time for the 5 pm book launch at the open air mini-theatre at Kala Academy.
The air was festive with colorful balloons and prancing children accompanied by their dignified Mamas, Dadas, Papas, Nanas, as well a sprinkling of some well-known celebrities like Alexyz, who has done the illustrations for the book. I was delighted to see so many familiar faces from Mapusa, where we live, and from Saligao, my husband’s village.
The kids were asked to write their names on slips of paper and these were put in a box. I was intrigued by a huge banner at the entrance- it was the front cover of the book, but there was a hole where Espi Mai’s face should have been.
We all got settled comfortably with a cup of Frugurt as the emcee, noted singer Veeam Braganca, began her introductory speech and briefed us on the panel of eminent writers for children seated on the dais. There was Fr. Rinald, ex-editor of ‘The Young People’, Konkani storywriter and editor of a children’s magazine, Prashanti Talpankar, Bookworm’s proprietor Sujata Noronha, Kanchan Bannerjee of Pratham Books Trust, and ‘Annie’ as the eminent writer-designer-communicator Aniruddha SenGupta is fondly referred to.
The evening began with an open discussion on the theme of writing for children and children writing themselves. Fr. Rinald mentioned Riza, daughter of Frederick Noronha, who runs her own blog ‘Tangerine Trees and Marmalade Skies’ and said kids must be encouraged not only to read stories but to also write and be given a platform to publish their writings.
Later, Anita Pinto read the first few paragraphs of her pivotal story ‘Espi Mai…” followed by a little girl’s rendition of the poem ‘Holfsky Polfsky’. The song ‘God still loves the World’ brought many a sigh and a few tears to the eye, while another story from the book, ‘Where’s that Puppy Going?’ kept us wondering all the way.
Four children were chosen by lot to launch the book (remember the slips of papers with their names taken earlier?) and, amidst loud applause, the (reluctant?) children were asked to release their balloons into the air. Oh, what a glorious sight to see, those red and blue and white and yellow balloons soaring up, up, up into the blue yonder!
Anita Pinto sat down to the back-breaking job of autographing each and every book that was sold that evening and I was privileged to have on mine “To Auriel Ribeiro Sa Best Wishes Anita Pinto”. Short and sweet, just like the lovely lady herself.
And as we departed for home sweet home, I took a picture of each of my ‘smallies’ peeking out of Espi Mai’s face in the banner as mementos of a successful book launch and a wonder-filled field trip. What more could one wish for?