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Over the last three years, Jumpstart, organised by the wonderful people of the German Book Office, has provided a much-needed forum for creators of children’s books, in both print and other mediums, to interact, celebrate, console and generally seek affirmation in a community which gets together all too infrequently. This year, Jumpstart’s theme was Off the Page. The many dimensions of what Off the Page could be was demonstrated in the stimulating opening session where seven speakers discussed different forms of storytelling: books, animation, apps, scrolls, theatre, and so on. Shilo Shiv Suleman’s digital book Khoya looked absolutely marvellous, and I am longing to buy it and explore its many magical aspects. Herve Tullet’s whimsical picture books showed how one could play with the form of the conventional print picture book to create light-heartedly fantastical experiences for kids.
A couple of sessions revolving around the subject of digital publishing followed. What is interesting is that the suspicions about digital publishing still seem to run quite deep. In a sense, one has been hearing the same discussion for a few years now, and it seems time that all of us stop worrying and start experimenting. Brij Singh and I did our now familiar role playing in the Cook-an-eBook session, where I played ignorant publisher to his veteran developer.
An interesting if partially successful new event was the Open Mic, where participants had five minutes to pitch an idea–usually visual–to a panel. There were some nice pitches, including a bunch from the students of Pearl Academy.
The second day was workshops: the one for artists and designers conducted by the wonderful Herve, by whose childlike charm everyone was smitten, and the one for writers conducted by Philippa Donovon and Anushka. The day ended with a publishers’ speed dating session, where twenty-six writers pitched their ideas to six publishing houses. At the Duckbill table, we heard a few wonderful ideas which we hope will be translated into books soon.

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