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Op-Ed

A little girl and her short stories

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By EMN Updated: Nov 14, 2014 10:36 pm
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Soma Basu

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] Primary School grader, Reflin Edwin is a little rock star. She loves to read and at ten is ahead of the curve with the publication of her first book
All eyes were on young E.Reflin. At 10 years old, she has accomplished something many adults can’t achieve. The fifth grader in Madurai’s TVS Lakshmi Matriculation Higher Secondary School got her first book, ‘Restless Birds’ – a collection of short stories — published.
At an impressive launch on Thursday, as she held her own book in front of the audience, she said it was an “amazingly happy feeling”.
“I love to read and I read a lot. I also enjoy writing,” declared Reflin in all innocence and shared a lesson for others her age — that if you follow your heart and put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.A bunch of students from different city schools in the audience ought to have taken the cue and the chief guest Dr.Thamizhachi Thangapandian, wished that a few of them would go on to become authors and enjoy seeing their thoughts in fine print.
Her point raises as many questions about reading and writing habit among today’s net-savvy children as it does about parenting and publishing. “Reflin was given that space in her home, I guess,” said Dr.Thamizhachi, “and with continued support from her parents and teachers, it is only a matter of time for her to become successful.”
The young author’s mother, J.Inba Rejila, says she buys Reflin a new book almost every week and she reads till midnight. “We have to daily scold her to go to bed early.”
Many parents who are raising their children in an era of social media and blogging also love to and do buy tons of books for their children. But in many homes they end up gathering dust on the shelves. I asked Reflin, who as an adorable four-year-old decided to read Shakespeare.
“My father reads a lot and it always made me curious to know what is in there that glues him.” One day, she demanded The Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare, her father was reading. Her parents smelled an opportunity for initiating the child into reading. Her father W.Edwin sought out the no sweat Shakespeare for kids series that makes the Bard immediately accessible to children.
Reflin with her flair for drawing and painting was already winning at competitions and was also learning to play the piano, recite Thirukural and emerging as a skating champ. But it was her thirst for reading books that increased. When she was just a sweet six-year-old, she had finished reading the Mahabharata and now she is hooked on to Sherlock Holmes.
And this is besides the many authors that she keeps reading in-between, from R.K.Narayan and Ruskin Bond to Enid Blyton, Rudyard Kipling and Hans Christian Andersen.
Just before her ninth birthday last September, Reflin visited an old book shop. The owner seeing her interest in books suggested that she write her own book. A real life experience of a trek into Meghamalai forest and the fall out turned into her first story and also gave her the title of the book, ‘Restless Birds’.
Over a period of six months, a dozen more stories about simple and good things in life that she had experienced filled up the 50-plus pages. “I observed, remembered, dreamt and built my book,” says Reflin. When her father walked into the office of publisher Nicholas Francis, he agreed it was a winner.
“It is always refreshing to launch a young author. I found every story of hers so fresh and imaginative,” says Nicholas. With her vivid narration of the wide selection of themes, she carries the reader along,” he adds. A significant aspect of the book is young Reflin has also provided impeccable pencil sketches with each story for the young readers to colour.
To be able to publish their daughter’s work may seem a natural way to reward the young talent’s months of effort. “You want people to see it and know about it,” says Edwin.
Restless Birds is a sweet little book that draws the readers with simple words and style, relatable emotions and characters. It is not a very perfect-in-English book. But it is these child like mistakes overshadowed by her world of hopes, fears, anxiety and faith, says Dr.Thamizhachi, that display the innocence of the child’s age and make the book more attractive and acceptable. “This is how a normal child with creative instincts should write at this age,” she asserts.
“Everybody may not like my book,” says little Reflin sounding very matured, “but I am inspired to do even better.” “I already have two more stories circling my mind,” she says.
Source: The Hindu

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By EMN Updated: Nov 14, 2014 10:36:01 pm