At the London launch of ‘Why Can’t Elephants Be Red?’ at the Nehru Centre recently, author Vani Tripathi Tikoo made a clarion call for children’s writing to become more real so that it truly connects with young people.
The author, who was in conversation with fellow author and screenwriter Nayanika Mahtani, mused that the concept of “content” has failed to do justice to meaningful content for children. She strongly feels that it is time to look beyond peddling kings, queens and fairy tales to young people and creating heartfelt and impactful stories.
Vani Tripathi Tikoo said: “Let’s start looking at childhood around us and some realistic writing. We've peddled enough frozen castles and fairy tales to children which is nothing to do with their everyday life.
“Their everyday life is very interesting and also often complex. We as adults either talk down to them or bark orders at them. I think this is an opportune time in terms of the storytelling narrative that is emerging globally that we start paying attention to children.”
In line with her mission of keeping children at the heart of the narrative, her book was launched by a group of children in the audience, including her daughter Akku who also surprised her mother with a reading on stage.
The author also shared insights into the genesis of the title of her first children’s book, which dates back to her time as a theatre artist in New Delhi when she performed a play named ‘Lal Lal Haathi’ (red, red elephant).
The multitalented artist, also a prominent Indian politician and television and film actor with extensive teaching experience at the National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi, pioneered the use of theatre as a mode of learning in schools and practicing performing arts as part of the curriculum in India.
Now having stepped into the world of children’s writing over the Covid lockdown period, Vani Tripathi Tikoo has indicated that a sequel to ‘Why Can’t Elephants Be Red?’ may not be far behind.
“Since the first launch there has been talk of a sequel. The first book ends on a cliff-hanger with Akku's first day of school, so a sequel may be coming out but I'm still to start work on it,” she shared.
*Info: Why Can’t Elephants Be Red?