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Popcorn Hooray! By Ketaki Mazumdar

Popcorn Hooray! By Ketaki Mazumdar (Published by MomSays) tells the story of  Graffined, a beloved giant who makes friends with all forest creatures. Now, he’s a super baker and this delightful picture book describes one day in the life of this friendly giant. It is a special day and he does something really special for his friends.

This beautifully illustrated picture book narrates a simple tale of love and sharing. Set in the midst of an enthralling forest it whips up the imagination of children. The words, written in the style of a poem, also touch lightly upon all the senses, evoking strong imagery.

Ketaki Mazumdar’s decades of experience in the realm of primary education comes through in this fun rendering. Kamakshi Shirodkar’s illustrations make the pages literally pop out alive!

This beautifully illustrated picture book narrates a simple tale of love and sharing.

Bookedforlife had a little chat with the author…. excerpts…

The text of this story reads like a poem, and yet, in a refreshingly different style you have not made the words rhyme. Tell us a bit more about this – was it an intentional strategy or did it just flow like that?

As a poet I do write a lot of free verse...In fact that is my style. I love the lack of forced rhyming. So I think it just flowed in this book too! Yet when you read aloud the rhyme breaks through within its own rhythm.
It's almost like talking with normal pauses, normal emphasis, normal intonation etc. Do you not think that is how stories should be told?

You have extensive experience in early childhood education. Give us a few nuggets of wisdom, drawing on your vast experience. What can parents and schools do at their respective levels, to foster a love for reading? 

Instilling a love of reading in children, has been my passion! That they should be 'lifetime readers', enjoy and care for their books, is very important. If parents and teachers genuinely feel strongly about it, they can make the whole process of reading, enjoyable. I feel, making time for interacting with books is a must. The 'bedtime story' routine for parents is important. It's the most vulnerable time for a child to bond and the cozy cuddles are emotionally satisfying and amazingly fruitful! We all know that children enjoy fun, games and laughter. Making a game out of reading is the answer! Encouraging children to read food packets, road signs, names of buildings, restaurants, toy shops and cake shops is a non-threatening and fun pastime.
Another way, for both parents and teachers, to encourage reading, is to label things. Since the words in their own environment will be child-centric, they will automatically drawn to decoding them and perhaps earn bonus treats too!
Another activity at home and in school, is to use colourful highlighters to mark the words that they can read already, maybe in old newspapers, old magazines, labels on crayon boxes and toy boxes etc. This is motivating for the children and a joy to the adults too! Persistence is the key word
I believe author interactions are beautiful. So, schools can invite authors and parents can take children to book talks, where children can get their questions answered. Unhurried time in libraries and bookshops is important and letting children choose their books is a step towards them making independent reading choices.

What has been the response of the kids who’ve read the book? My niece read it and she was enthralled with the smell of the popcorn- yes, she could actually sense it on reading the book, and to me that really speaks volumes about the impact that a well told and presented story has on the reader! 

Thank you very much for the feedback. I'm delighted with your niece's reaction. The reactions of the children really have been amazing and the best part is that they seemed to have enjoyed many and varied areas of the story! 

One child said, “I loved behaving and dancing like a popcorn, popping up and down with the Popcorn Song!”

Another gentle child said, “Graffined the Giant is so kind!”

“The garland of forest flowers was so pretty”, said another.

“Loved the cakes!”, quipped quite a few.

“I love eating popcorn!”, said many.

Well, this is entirely believable! My niece got Popcorn Hooray! By Ketaki Mazumdar as a parting gift from her school, on the last day of the Preprimary section, as she transitions into the infant school. She read and reread it from cover to cover! What’s the one thing that stayed with her, I asked. Pat comes the reply- “The whiff of the popcorn!”

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Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.