Since I started blogging, it has always been my mission to share with you lesser-known, under-the-radar books that are must-read. I have also tried to re-introduce English book readers to Hindi literature via my blog. I am particularly partial to anthologies where I get to sample writings from authors who are still unknown to me.
On 13 November 2022, Keekli Charitable Trust released two anthologies, Fiction Treasure Trove and Himachal Ke Rang. Books that could not have been more different from each other whether it is the range of topics or the authors’ age.
About Keekli Charitable Trust
Bachpan, Masti aur Hum… perfectly defines Keekli – An Ode to Innocence. Since November 2018, helmed by Vandana Bhagra, the Keekli Charitable Trust has been working towards the education of the city of Shimla’s children and contributing towards sectors such as public health, women empowerment, and social welfare schemes.
Launched in Shimla in May 2013 as an online news and views magazine for children, it believes that by transforming the lives of children, you can change a family, a community, and ultimately the world. It helps groom young readers with Keekli Book Club sessions and the Keekli Library.
Keekli conducts short story writing competitions and creative writing workshops for children. Its pilot project 51 Scintillating Tales – Short Stories by Children was successfully accepted by literary circles. It continues to promote literacy and literary culture among young minds helping children tap into their latent talents.
मीमांसा—Children’s Literature Festival 2023
Language & Culture Department, Himachal Pradesh in partnership with Keekli Charitable Trust is hosting मीमांसा—Children’s Literature Festival 2023 from March 17-19. To be held at the Gaiety Theatre, Shimla, the mega literary festival will primarily focus on children’s literature with prominent children’s authors participating. There would be various inter-school competitions too including short story writing, vocabulary skills, slogan writing, poster making, and bookmark making.
For more details and to register, visit the Keekli website.
Fiction Treasure Trove: 31 Short Stories By Children
Edited by Sonia Dogra and Vandana Bhagra
The Keekli Charitable Trust held its second pan-India short story writing competition last summer in 2022 for young writers under the age of eighteen. The winning entries were compiled and edited by Sonia Dogra and Vandana Bhagra into Fiction Treasure Trove. A collection of thirty-one imaginative short stories across genres.
Although it is targeted at children, the book can be enjoyed by adults alike. The sheer creativity and the writing style of tweens and teens are sure to impress you. Writing that is also empathetic for their age. A range of topics from Greek mythology retelling to a talking cat to adventure to fantasy fiction to mysteries to the everyday issues that might be considered “grown-up”.
Primarily in English, the book includes three short stories written in Hindi. The cover too is designed by children – winners Atharv Vats and Pritha Doegar.
Not limited to print or ebook format, the stories are also available as podcasts on Keekli’s Spotify channel – Keekli – Little Feet, Big Strides. Some of them are narrated by the authors themselves which is always such a treat.
Himachal Ke Rang: Katha Pachisi
Edited by Vandana Bhagra
True to its name – the colors of Himachal. Edited by Vandana Bhagra, the duo-lingual Himachal ke Rang: Katha Pachisi is a collection of 25 short stories in Hindi and English written by Himachal’s writers above the age of 40.
Stories on real-life experiences based in Himachal. Short stories around a mature range of topics that are not necessarily feel-good but are definitely thought-provoking. Stories based on mythology. Uplifting stories on women’s empowerment. Slice of life stories and those around Himachal’s culture and traditions. The reality of women’s education, poverty, exploitation, and ecological issues. Stories that transport you to the mountains of Himachal. There is a generous sprinkling of the vernacular in some that did not take away from the book for me. In fact, it added to the charm of the narrative.
Similar to Fiction Treasure Trove, the stories are also available as podcast episodes. The narration is on point and I particularly enjoyed the Hindi narration by Kuldeep Verma.
Grab a copy of the books at the Delhi World Book Fair between February 25th and March 5th at Pragati Maidan, Hall No. 4 (First Floor). The books will be stocked at KharidoBecho.in Stall 128 & 129.
Do you have aspiring young writers at home or know one? Be sure to register them for Keekli’s upcoming pan-India contests. I hope you pick up these anthologies soon. Have you read them already? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.