Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Aspiring Gastronauts!

I recently did a photo shoot with my cousins and a few other kids doing the activities that Cheeku does in the book. I have to say that Aakruti and Aushima (my brilliantly bratty cousins!) were hands down the most enthusiastic aspiring Gatsronauts that I shot. It's good to see the Gastronaut Gear be worn by the two people who sort of inspired my project- things are coming full circle!
Here are a few images comparing Cheeku and them:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Screen Printing Round 2

Book Readings

I really wanted to see how my primary target audience (urban middle class children between ages of
4-8) reacted to my book as that is the heart of the entire Gastronaut kit. I also wanted to show it to them in a large group so that an adult, such as a parent or teacher couldn’t stifle or monitor their reaction. I took two classes in Mallya Aditi, a reading period with Standard 2 and library period with Standard 3. I did a projected book reading by myself with both groups without much involvement of the teachers who were present. Only an initial introduction and call to order.
 I was thrilled with their reactions and opinions in both classes, especially because the children were really open, interested, observant and friendly. I've written down some of the comments, opinions and questions that were asked at the end of the reading.

STANDARD 2 (7-8 year olds) | Reading Period | Miss Devika

Did you like the book?
Collective “YES!”

What did you like about the book?
“The illustrations.”
“The part where they formed a club and put their signatures on the paper.”
“The colours.”

How did you get the idea for the book?
My friends and I started a cooking club. We get together on weekends when we are all free and choose a type of cuisine and cook together- like Italian, Malaysian, etc. When I had to go out and buy ingredients for what I was going to cook I had to make a lot of decisions like buying fresh tomatoes for making a pasta sauce or buying a packet of tomato puree. I started thinking about what each ingredient would do to my body, where the food came from, how it affected things outside my body...
And I thought more people should think about these things, so I chose to write a book about it for my project!

How did you learn to cook?
I didn’t know how to cook at all, and no one really taught me. I just went online and got recipes for the dishes I wanted to make and followed instructions. It’s a lot of fun!

Are you selling the book in stores?
Not yet but I will if I get a publisher!

STANDARD 3 (8-9 year olds) | Library Period | Miss Jaishree

Did you like the book?

Did you like anything in particular?
The illustrations.
The flaps are really cool!
The characters, you should write a series about Cheeku and his friends.

Why does it say 90% off on that shelf of apples?
(In Chapter 3 when Ma and Cheeku go to a supermarket.)
Have you noticed crates in super markets where they advertise discounts on fruits and vegetables and “special offers”? Well its mainly because that particular stock of fruit or vegetable is getting old and rotting and they want to try and clear their stock, so I decided to put a sign like that in the supermarket Cheeku visits.

Why did you choose to write a book?
Because I felt it would help me communicate my ideas and thoughts better than anything else.

Are the characters real?
No they aren’t really but they are based on people I know, like my close friends and family members. In fact one of them is like me when I was a kid!

Are you going to write more books?
If I have something to write about- definitely!

How did you make the flaps?
I drew them out and worked on them some more on the computer and printed them out on a sheet. I then cut them out and stuck them on the page.

Is this book published?
No its not. This is just the first copy that I got printed and bound to be submitted to my teachers so they can grade me on it.

Even though I showed my book to the upper limit of my target age group, it was really useful as now I know that the colours, illustrations and especially the flaps are engaging for the older audience and are likely to engage a younger audience of 4-5 year olds as well. The book is meant to be read out loud to a younger audience and through my reading sessions I know that the language in the overall narrative is simple enough for a 7 or 8 year old to read by themselves as most of the kids were reading along with me.

I was a little nervous about the fact that I’d used pet names and not real names for all my characters. Even though I did this to make the characters more personal, fun and endearing, I had a feeling that kids might find it strange. However, the children I read to just found it funny which was great!
I was also really pleased when a third grader asked me to turn the book into a series about Cheeku and his friends. It felt great to have such a good response to the book from these two groups of students and their teachers. I guess I didn’t get lost in my tiny bubble of an idea, and managed to create something that at least some people can relate to and enjoy!

A Garrulous Gastronaut's Guide

I have uploaded the entire guidebook on Issuu. Though it won't be possible to look at the flaps, you will be able to read the main narrative and get an idea of the book.

Photographs of the book: