Jumpstart 2013

Ayushi Saxena, platypus, on attending her first Jumpstart.

This year’s Jumpstart kicked off with a cracker of an opening session, ‘The Great Language Debate’, on languages and the politics of language. Panelists included Alok Rai, a Delhi University professor, Manisha Chaudhry, head of content development at Pratham Books, Subir Shukla, Principal Coordinator of IGNUS-erg, and Holly Thompson, author and coordinator of SCBWI-Tokyo. The session was moderated by Anita Roy of Young Zubaan. The panellists spoke of various issues facing the publishing industry in India, including politics of translation and the uneasy inhabitation of English by non-English speakers. Is there a way to ‘own’ English language; can you make English your own, without giving up your mother-tongue; is there a way to be ‘at home’ with both? These were the questions the panellists and the audience were left grappling with, at the end of a thought-provoking and insightful session.

The next session decided to tackle language in a different way – focussing on its playfulness. ‘The Language Playground’ was a rip-roaring session on nonsense verse. Anita Roy, Anushka Ravishankar, Principal Platypus, poet Sampurna Chattarji and Yellowcat Theatre’s Sukesh Arora delighted the audience as they read, performed, sang and wrote nonsense. The live nonsense writing session was possibly my favourite part of the whole conference!

Later, attendees got to listen to the brilliant illustrators Julia Kaergel and Emily Gravett talk about art and the process of illustrating picture books, while Dorling Kindersley’s Design Director, Stuart Jackman, spoke on the importance of design and the role a designer should play while working on a book. At the end of the session, Young Zubaan’s seminal 101 India Children’s Books We Love was released, an invaluable guide to the world of Indian children’s books. We’ll take this opportunity to boast that some of the Duckbill titles have also been listed in the book!

The first day of the conference ended with a fun discussion on translation with expert translators, authors and publishers on the panel. The panel included Sampurna Chattarji, translator of Sukumar Ray’s nonsense verse, Arunava Sinha, an award-winning translator, Shobha Viswanath of Karadi Tales, Rubin D’Cruz of National Book Trust and Urvashi Butalia of Zubaan Books.

The second day of the conference included fabulous masterclasses for writers and illustrators. The writers’ mastersclass was led by Holly Thompson and Anushka Ravishankar, with a special session on picture books with UK’s much loved picture book author Emily Gravett. Emily Gravett also led the illustrators’ masterclass along with Julia Kaergel.

The festival finally wrapped up on the second day with an extended Book Souk – a speed dating of sorts for publishers and writers and illustrators. The Platypuses at Duckbill Books met some really talented people and heard some very interesting story ideas! Colour us happy. Can’t wait for next year’s Jumpstart.

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