For many years, Moin and the Monster has been quite simply my favourite book for that particular age group.
I vaguely knew of Anushka Ravishankar, though I did know her magnificent picture books for Tara. A friend, a purveyor of nonsense poetry, put us in touch, and I suggested gingerly that she write something (non-picture book and prose) for us. She cheerfully agreed to give it a shot, and over the next few weeks, chapters would come rolling into my inbox. and I would be rolling on the slightly grubby bottle-green carpet on the office floor after I read them. I simply could not wait for the next installment to come in.
I love Moin because for me it embodies many of the things I felt very strongly were needed in Indian children’s books, which I had not read in any English book by an Indian author at that date (even now, there are very few which come to mind!):
a. It was funny. I love books that make me laugh.
b. It was silly. There was no moral to it, one learnt absolutely nothing.
c. The characters were people I knew, or would like to know. Moin’s parents, teachers and friends are such normal people and so delightfully depicted.
d. The book is just full of joy. I know this sounds a bit New Age-y, but I like books which make me happy.
So for many years, I have been asking Anushka to write the sequel to Moin. Because the rights were back with her for a couple of years, it was a wait for the right publisher. And of course, once Duckbill was formed, there was no question (in my mind at least) that Duckbill was the right publisher!
And so Moin the Monster Songster happened–quite miraculously, amidst MOIs, and LOIs and DGSMFs. And after a good seven years, there was a new Moin to read. And as before, I sat at my computer, checking my inbox at regular intervals, waiting for each new installment.
A purely personal joy for me was that this time around I had an offspring of the right age to read Moin to. So not only did I get to laugh a lot, but I also got to share that laughter with my son. Some of the original readers are now of course much older, but they still talk fondly of the book, and say that they want to read the sequel!
Anitha Balachandran has illustrated both Moins (and done the animation). A very talented artist, her great challenge was drawing the monster–because of course the monster’s appearance is as Moin draws him, and Moin cannot draw! To ask an artist to draw not only like a child, but like a child who cannot draw is a big challenge!
Read Moin and the Monster, if you have not already (in which case reread it), and read Moin the Monster Songster. I promise you some very, very happy hours!