The duckbilled platypus is a funny creature. It’s a mammal, but it lays eggs. It’s poisonous, with an incongruous flat long duckface and a beaver tail. In fact, it’s so funny looking, that the first time scientists encountered it they assumed it was a fraud. It’s the unusual qualities of this animal that made former Scholastic editors Sayoni Basu and Anushka Ravishankar name their brand new, Delhi-based children's publishing house after it. They hope Duckbill Books will be a bit like a platypus, a whimsical animal with a unique place in literature. When they first launched, they wrote to well known authors to draw them a picture of a platypus now available on their Facebook page for your viewing pleasure. Coming up they plan to release their first book in September, Mainak Dhar's young adult fiction starring zombies, and are looking for other promising children's authors to work with.
That's where you come in. If you’ve always wanted to be the next Rosemary Sutcliffe or Anne Fine, here's your chance: Duckbill is organising a three day workshop on writing for children, including classes that explore children's fiction as a genre; personalised feedback on your writing; and if your newborn manuscript is any good—a shot at getting it published. Be very aware: this is not a workshop for picture books or young adult writing, aimed strictly at readers between 7 and 14 years. Participants have to be adult though, the youngest age to get accepted is 18.
Between them, Sayoni and Anushka come with barrels of experience, so you’re in good hands. Anushka is the author of several children’s books, some published internationally (we loved her At Least a Fish!) and as publishing director at Scholastic, has worked with authors like Paro Anand and Manjula Padmanabhan. Sayoni was with Puffin books before becoming publishing director at Scholastic, after which she moved to Amar Chitra Katha. She’s collaborated with Siddhartha Sarma, Jerry Pinto, Ruskin Bond and APJ Abdul Kalam, among others. Those are some presidential recommendations!
Read Your Follies
Sayoni and Anushka are looking at first time writers or writers who haven’t written for kids before but would like to try. To sign up, you need to send a writing sample as well as a description of your most favourite and least favourite children’s book, with a note explaining the choice - we suggest you get moving, because the last day for submissions is June 20th. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be served to raise your flagging creativity. There are plans to have similar workshops in Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore as well, later in the year. All work and no play makes Jack a Dahl boy?
Duckbill’s list of recommended children’s reading:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1) by Jeff Kinney
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Dial a Ghost by Eva Ibbotson
Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond
Excuse Me? by Anushka Ravishankar
Faces in the Water by Ranjit Lal
The Mystery of the Secret Hair Oil Formula by Asha Nehemiah
Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson
Harsha Vardhana by Devika Rangachari
The Curse of the Broken Step by Bubbles Subberwal and Anjali Raghubeer
Taranauts: The Quest for the Shyn Emeralds by Roopa Pai