Gangtok, July 1
Bookaroo’s first Gangtok edition in collaboration with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts’ North Eastern Regional Centre’s generated great excitement amongst the children. Held on June 28th and 29th at Taktse International School, Day 1 was a Schools’ Day while Day 2 was open to families.
For a first-time event, it was a heart-warming response. Fifteen schools from around Gangtok sent their children (of various age groups) to attend 29 sessions from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm on Day 1. It was a blast as the children and their teachers rushed from venue to venue to soak in the stories and tales.
The school was transformed into a typical Bookaroo venue. Various areas of the school had Bookaroo sub-venue names such as The Theatre, The Turret, Doodle Wall, Kahani Tree, Crafty Corner and the Studio. There were two ongoing sessions running right through the day to make sure that even the breaks had something for everyone. From making masks to mapping Gangtok to knowing about wild India to shadow puppetry to listening to tales from the region, Bookaroo Gangtok had a complete package for a child to choose his or her area of interest.
Fifteen  speakers from eight states in India, one each from Nepal and Bhutan and three from Sikkim regaled children with stories, interesting facts, poetry, music and art. Nearly 750 children and their parents attended the festival over the two days. Brisk sales of the books of participating authors and illustrators were reported from the festival bookstore. The book signing area in the festival was a hive of activity as children thronged it to get their books signed.
According to informal conversations with Sonam Paljor Dengjongpa, Director, Taktse International School, this first-time venture of Bookaroo to Gangtok could be compared to a pebble being dropped in the water and the initial ripples it creates. He believes that when Bookaroo returns next year, the response will only get better.
Bookaroo’s festival director, Swati Roy avers “That being the debut year it’s been quite a heart-warming response considering that such a festival was an unknown factor for the children and parents in Gangtok. The fact that 15 schools made it a point to send their children to the festival made it worth the effort, they said. All of this became possible because of the support of IGNCA’s NER Centre, Taktse International School and the publishers. “
In conclusion, according to M Venkatesh, Bookaroo’s festival director, “We look forward to coming back to a bigger response next time. All speakers were amazed at the response they received from the children as their creativity came to the fore in every interactive session that was held.”