Monday, January 18, 2016

In the Spotlight 
Meet Natasha Sharma
Author of Princess Easy Pleasy


How did the idea for Princess Easy Pleasy come about? 
The germ of the idea came about as I packed cartons of milk in multiple layers of bubble wrap in the hope that as I lugged the milk across the world to meet my younger ones finicky palate with respect to milk, the tetrapacks wouldn’t burst in my suitcase.  As I taped the boxes tight, I considered the possibility that this state of affairs was of my own making. I might as well be carrying a cow along. Why stop at that? Let’s take the chef and all the accompaniments. What else can we stuff in? Princess Easy Pleasy was born!

Tell us a little about your first book with Karadi?
Princess Easy Pleasy is a story of a princess who is anything but easy to please. She isn’t open-minded or accepting of new experiences and new tastes - something a lot of young children struggle with. I like writing with humour and the story takes that thought and blows it completely out of proportion to turn it into a laugh riot.
As the story progresses, I’d like to believe that it holds a mirror up to all of us as parents as well on where do we draw the line with regards giving in and lugging stuff around (in my case milk cartons) and instead encourage and perhaps insist that they try new things. The illustrations in the book are absolutely stunning and the book has an absolutely brilliant production quality that has me thrilled to bits.

What is your favourite part of the story?
It has to be the moment when Princess Easy Pleasy looks up at the huge elephant towering above her and says, “It’s much too tiny”. 

It is important for children to read—read a lot. Your thoughts on current reading trends and based on your interaction with children, what kind of books do you think they like.
I think reading is on an upswing! I see a lot of kids reading and many parents bringing them to reading events, which needs a lot of commitment to encourage reading on the part of parents.

On the kind of books kids like, referring specifically to the picture book category be they Indian or international, it’s stories that don’t talk down to children. Stories that are fun, capture a specific emotion, dilemma or experience and have illustrations that are beautifully executed and tie in well with the story, adding to it rather than simply illustrating the words. I think children pick up on far more than we can imagine.

Have you met a Princess Easy Pleasy?
Well…my first answer is indicative of it. But really, it isn’t all that crazy… I’ve only carried milk cartons. Other than that little glitch, my kids are very adventurous travellers. We travel a lot and they just learnt to enjoy themselves. I do think that many young kids have a certain amount of natural resistance to new things and I hope Princess Easy Pleasy highlights that with a laugh and perhaps gives kids something to consider before turning up their nose the next time around.

Tell us a bit about the synergies that you share with Priya Kuriyan?
I have been very fortunate that Priya has illustrated five of my books, three in the last year – Princess Easy Pleasy, Razia and the Pesky Presents (History-Mystery with Duckbill books) and Vikram and the Vampire (Young Zubaan)! Apart from the fact that she is a brilliant illustrator, she brings so much more to the story by building in little details. She gets the humour in my writing and dials it up a notch so I’m always thrilled when I know that she is working on my story.
In addition, it was a lot of fun to conduct readings with her at the last Bookaroo. Conducting one such for Princess Easy Pleasy, we were reading, drawing alongside, stuffing in a mock-up of a plane, making trumpety noises and enjoying ourselves tremendously. That was really special and I’m looking forward to a repeat of that on February 7th at the Kala Ghodha Literature festival in Mumbai

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