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Archive for the month “March, 2013”

The Game of Shadows

Eleven-year old Anita’s world comes crashing down when her parents are abducted by a mysterious figure called the King of Shadows. She learns that they have been imprisoned in the Endless Maze next to the main city of Shadowland; and the only way to enter it and save her parents is to play the intriguing game of shadows.

Armed with a handy bag of tricks designed to counter almost all the dangers The Game of Shadows Cover.inddlurking  in Shadowland, and with her friends Choco and Sabena firmly by her side, Anita just might have a chance of surviving the evil king’s domain and foiling his sinister plans.

Written by the prolific children’s writer and poet Deepa Agarwal, The Game of Shadows is a thrilling adventure story filled with fantastical elements and larger-than-life characters. The Game of Shadows is part of Scholastic India’s Junior Adventure series, which includes books with riveting stories interlaid with games, puzzles, maps, and a whole lot of fun.


We got in touch with the author and the illustrators of The Game of Shadows for a quick chat about the book, their work in general, and much more –


Deepa Agarwal has written about fifty books in English and Hindi, mostly for Deepa Agarwal 1children. She has received many prestigious awards including the N.C.E.R.T. National Award For Children’s Literature.

Her historical adventure novel, Caravan to Tibet, was selected for the IBBY(International Board On Books For Young People) Honour List 2008 from India and like some of her earlier titles, was listed in the White Raven Catalogue of the International Youth Library, Munich. Her work has appeared in Japanese, Chinese and Korean as well as sixteen Indian languages.


How did the idea for The Game of Shadows come to you?

Deepa: Since childhood I’ve been fascinated by shadows. Even at the age of four or five I was very intrigued by the fact that my shadow copied my actions. It was almost as if it were an alter ego. Earlier I used to mostly write mystery and adventure stories or those about real life problems and issues. When it was first suggested that I try my hand at a fantasy, the idea of an evil being that took possession of people’s shadows in order to control them came to me. The story developed slowly, though the theme of a child rescuing her parents from a dangerous situation had been going around in my mind for some time.


Where do you find inspiration for your stories? Do you write every day or whenever the fancy strikes you?

Deepa: Story material is all around us. I get inspiration from real life incidents and situations, chance phrases and sentences. Sometimes an opening sentence or an idea flashes into my mind.  I try to write every day, unless I am travelling or preoccupied with other activities. It’s not a question of the fancy striking occasionally. Like any other profession, writing is an occupation that requires you to work regularly.  If you work in fits and starts you cannot consider yourself a writer. I have many half written stories or outlines lying around and it feels as if I never have enough time to complete them.


Tell us about your childhood. Have any of your early experiences translated into material for your books?

Deepa: I grew up in Almora, a small town in Uttarakhand and went to boarding school at Naini Tal at the age of seven. My father was a doctor and my mother a schoolteacher. We were six brothers and sisters and one brother and two sisters were much older than my two younger brothers and me. We were surrounded by wide, open spaces and spent a lot of time outdoors, trekking to our favourite spots in the neighbourhood of the town. I was a bookworm from the beginning since my mother introduced me to reading very early. We had few luxuries, but now I realise how privileged I was to pass my childhood in that environment. Some of my short stories are indeed, based on early experiences like the short story “Fire” from my collection Not Just Girls which is based on a true incident when a friend and I unthinkingly set fire to the forest. I wrote it to try and answer a question that had always troubled me. Several others are inspired by happenings in boarding school like “Letter from Home”, “A Caterpillar Called Matthew” or by our interaction with people around us, like the story “Signature”.


What kind of stories do you enjoy writing the most? Among the books you’ve written, is there one that’s really close to your heart?

Deepa: I just enjoy writing! It’s a challenge to work out the plot of a mystery and I think adventure stories seem to come naturally to me. Probably the result of my early reading, and perhaps  the fact that we were exposed to real life adventure. We had people in our family who were explorers or mountaineers and there were exciting incidents of panthers prowling around in winter and even attacking our dogs. About books being close to my heart it’s hard to mention a specific one, since books are like your children. Writing Game of Shadows was like a challenge and I enjoyed going over it again when this new edition came out. But I have written many different kinds of books so I have separate corners in my heart for each!


Which is your all-time favourite children’s book?

Deepa: That’s a tough one! But I think Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is one of the most wonderful books I’ve read.


Team Oktopus—the Junior Adventure series illustrator duo, Constanza and teamoktopuslogo-01 (1)Diego make all their drawings with magical ink from an enchanted forest that’s behind their house. Originally from Chile, they are currently living in Bangalore.



How did you get into illustrating?


TO: Like everyone else does: making drawings in our notebooks when we were too bored to pay attention to whatever the teacher was saying. We quickly realised that this method for passing time actually worked, and after you start living inside your drawings is really impossible to stop… so we guess that boring teachers were the people responsible for the thousands of unicorns, zombies and princesses we ended up drawing. Thank you boring teachers: YOU ROCK!


Tell us about your working relationship. How often do you disagree on say, the way you approach a project or the look of a certain page?


TO: Working as a team is awesome, we are always on the same page and, to be honest, our work would be downright ugly if we were separate. We do sometimes have the issue  that one of us makes something really horrible but presents it anyway due to boredom, stress, or whatever and the other one is forced to do some honesty-time “that is really bad, you should do it all over again. PLEASE“… but we do it happily because we really like what we do (and because getting cranky is a severe offence here at our headquarters … Whoever commits such a severe offence is forced to wear a chicken suit next day to work).

Team Oktopus

How would you describe your art style?


TO: Hahahahha, that’s a hard question to answer… maybe we don’t read too much art books for nothing comes to mind RIGHT NOW, but we like to think of what we do as cute, rounded and funny. So clearly we are not modernists, if that’s any help whatsoever.


What are the joys and challenges associated with illustrating for children?


TO: This is the best job in the universe (yes, we are considering intergalactic overlord) so the joys are way too many to mention. This is not to say that it’s an easy job – basically we need to make kids go – Hey! I like this drawing! So their experience of reading the text is better with drawings than without them. That’s the challenge, to create something that people care about in some level. Luckily we have worked with amazing authors so most of the job is done for us, but HEY! do not tell anyone that: it’s a secret.


How did you go about illustrating The Game of Shadows? What kind of tools did you use?


TO: First, pen and paper (classics never die!) and second – Adobe Illustrator.   It’s an awesome software that let’s you draw all those perfect circles you have always dreamt about. But be warned: the computer will NOT make the drawings for you, so keep that pencil busy!


If you were given the opportunity to illustrate a classic children’s book, which one would you pick?


TO: Tricky question! All our favourites ARE favourites because of the mix between amazing story and breath-taking illustrations. Our edition of Alice Through the Looking glass came with the incredible  Jon Tenniel’s depictions of Wonderland.  Roald Dahl’s stories were alongside Quentin Blake’s gorgeous drawings. The Little Prince was drawn by Monseuir Antoine himself! We could go on and on, but, thing is, we think those books are perfect with their original illustrations. That said, we would really really REALLY enjoy doing artwork for fairy tales. Hans Christian Andersen would be awesome. Super ultra mega awesome.


Watch out for The Secret of the Rainbow Phoenix, our forthcoming title in the Scholastic Young Adventure series, meant for a slightly younger readership.



The Best of the Scholastic Writing Awards 2012

Read excerpts from last year’s prize-winning entries from the junior and senior categories, featured in For Kids By Kids: The Best of  the Scholastic Writing Awards 2012: 

Junior Fiction


Nalin Bedi

Rani Koel and her friends sang their morning
song as usual. The song also served as a marking
of their territory. The song told the other birds
and animals that the area where their song reaches
belonged to them. But songs serve as a territory
marker only if it can be heard. There was no chance
of any Koel’s song getting heard with all the noise
in and around the park.
One morning, Rani Koel heard a new Koel
singing from the next tree. As she went to see who
it was, she found the newcomer. ‘Hey! Leave my
area!’ said Rani.
‘Who are you? If this is your area, why aren’t
you singing to mark it?’ asked the newcomer.
‘What do you mean? I have been living here for
the last two years and singing daily. Did you not
hear me?’
‘If I heard you, would I enter your area?’
‘Now that you have heard me, you’d better buzz
off!’ said Rani. The newcomer stared at Rani for a
minute and then flew away. Rani then flew towards
the banyan tree where Lata lived and whistled a
special tune which was their signal to meet. As she
reached the tree, Rupa and Sona also turned up.
‘What happened?’ asked Lata.
‘Something has to be done. I had an intruder
in the next tree! You know, he said that he had
come because he could not hear me singing. What
nonsense! I have been following the routine for so
long!’ said Rani angrily.
‘You know what? I had the same problem
yesterday!’ said Rupa. ‘There was a bird with a
white tail who told me the same thing. I quickly
told him to leave and that this park was already
marked out.’
‘It happened to me last week!’ said Lata and
Sona together.
Meanwhile, a pigeon and a crow had also come
near the four Koels.
‘We are also facing the same problem. The same
confusion’s happened in the Myna colony on the rain
trees and in the squirrel colony in the neem trees,’
said the pigeon.

Senior Fiction


Stacy Pereira

‘This is it. Just one more month and the longest
waiting period of my life will end. In a month’s time,
I, Michael Rebeiro will finally be allowed to drive a
car.’ I paused for a second to stare at my rapt audience.
As they continued to look at me intently, I carried
on. ‘I’m going to be a responsible eighteen-year-old
in one month. Besides, I have someone with me—it’s
not like I would drive alone.’ Here, I stopped to look
again at my audience of three, consisting of a potted
plant, a stuffed toy dog and the family pet—a hamster
named Pudding. The plant continued sitting on the
windowsill. The furry blur St Bernard kept smiling at
me. And Pudding kept sniffing his empty food bowl.
The atmosphere was certainly not very heartening.
I nevertheless valiantly kept up my oration for about
another three minutes until I heard a muffled giggle
behind me. I turned around, and there, standing in the
doorway were my older brother and sister. They simply
burst out laughing. My sister Fleur, a pesky creature
who treated me with superior tolerance and the
amused condescension of an older sibling, wiped tears
from her eyes. ‘Did you notice that you are talking to
your window?’ she said, choking with laughter.

‘Actually, I’m talking to the plant, Fluffy and
Pudding,’ I said coldly.
Radford, my older brother, tried to hide his
smile. ‘Miles, you can’t go around talking to lifeless
things. It’s just not done by most sane people.’
My childhood fascination for every kind of
automobile resulted in my father nicknaming me
Miles, and after that the name just stuck. Everyone
called me by my childhood nickname, and strangely
enough it suited me better than the distinguished
name Michael. I usually do not mind this moniker
except that sometimes, just to annoy me, people
call me Kilometre instead of Miles.

for kids by kids

Scholastic Writing Awards 2013

The Scholastic Writing Awards are back!

Every year, Scholastic India holds a nation-wide fiction writing competition for students, in a quest for the country’s finest young wordsmiths. The competition encourages children to employ their writing skills and creativity to craft stories fit for publication.

Since 2007, Scholastic has been publishing the best entries from each year in a special anthology titled For Kids By Kids: The Best of the Scholastic Writing Awards.

This year, students are invited to write a short story based on any one of the three themes listed below:

Group 1 (Classes 4-6) – Journey

The Secret Diary


Group 2 (Classes 5-9)  – Rewind

Starting line – And They Lived Happily After


The three prize-winning stories from each group along with the runners-up will be featured in the seventh edition of For Kids By Kids.

To know more about the guidelines and the registration process, visit our website –

The last date for entries is 15 March 2013.

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