Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great Big Book Fun Day a big hit with kids

From a report prepared for The Herald by Aniruddha Sen Gupta

The poster promised "an action-packed afternoon of all manner of madness and mayhem revolving around the amazing worlds that exist in books". And that's exactly what the Great Big Book Fun Day, held at the Clube Tennis de Gaspar Dias in Miramar, Panjim on September 5, delivered.

The afternoon consisted of three events. The first, called Mixed Mysteries, was for children from classes 1 to 4. It was an uproarious affair, with kids rushing from clue station to clue station to put together book covers, which were given to them as puzzle pieces. "Our attempt," explained Sujata Noronha, one of the organisers of the event, "was to bring in various aspects of learning that a kid could use. So there was a challenge that required them to come up with synonyms for words, while another one used visual clues for them to work out."

The Mixed Mysteries compelled kids to think, deduce and act upon their deductions, a combination loved by the participants and appreciated by their parents too. Said one parent, who had accompanied her child from Vasco for the event, "I am glad I came all this way -- the Bookworm events get the kids to use their brains while enjoying themselves, which is such a rare feature of their lives."

Next came the Bookwise Quiz, an audiovisual quiz on books and comics, open to all students up to class 12. "The quiz was great," said Saloni Sardessai, one of the finalists. "The questions weren't very difficult, but they really required us to rack our brains. I enjoyed it like anything!"

Smoothly conducted by Rajiv D'Silva, the Bookwise quiz was won by the team of Julian D'Costa, Ari Pereira and Shridhar Shirolkar, which stayed a step ahead in each round, but surged ahead in the final Rapid Fire round, with Julian answering all four of his questions on 'Tom Sawyer' correctly. The team of Aishwarya Shridhar, Chitra Mekoth and Jemimah Gomes came second.

The grand finale was an innovative quiz-based board game with the theme of 'Around the World in 80 Minutes'. Conducted by Savio Figueiredo, this component was for students of classes 5 to 8. The game required participating teams to travel around the world on a fixed route, answering questions based on the literature of the country that they landed on to go ahead. An element of luck was added through the throw of a die and other chance elements on the 'board', which was a route map projected onto the wall. "It was well-conceived, an interesting idea," said Yvonne Sequeira, whose son Alexander was a member of one of the six finalist teams.

Pritha Sardessai, whose daughter Saloni was part of the runner-up team in the 'Around the World' event, was all praise for the idea too. "It set the books in the geographic location from which they originate or in which they are based," she said. "This makes it more real for the kids, and gets them more interested in reading." Her son Shaunak, she feels, has got a tremendous headstart since she enrolled him at Bookworm, because of "the knowledge of books and love of reading it has given him".

The 'Around the World' event, too, was won by the team of Julian D'Costa, Ari Pereira and Shridhar Shirolkar, with the team of Sahil Prabhudesai, Saloni Sardessai and Sapna Nayak coming in second. The winning team's double feat was particularly impressive considering they were competing against far more senior teams. If there had been a 'Player of the Day' award, Julian D'Costa would have won it hands down.

The Great Big Book Fun Day was organised by the Panjim-based not-for-profit Bookworm library, whose aim is to foster a love of reading among children. The quiz and game content for the senior events was developed by the Sunday Evening Quiz Club, Goa's fledgling but very active quiz club. The Reading Habit, the much-loved Panjim bookstore, and stationery producers A.W. Faber Castell sponsored prizes for all participants. The women's wing of the YMCA had set up a snacks stall at the venue.

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