Getting the young… into reading and writing

Goa books by you.

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My former journalist colleague Cosme I Dias came calling the other day. He had in his hands the manuscript (including cover design) of a book he planned to come out with.

In no time, Cosme had his book for children ready. It’s called ‘The Prince of Camels: Magic in the Desert’. It’s a story set in the Middle East. A friend looking at the book was impressed by its cover design. It also promises to be a good read.

What’s the story about? This is how it markets itself: “Any child deserves a home and loving parents! Yousuf, the infant Arab boy lost all that in a storm. Mossid, his father’s favourite camel, is the only creature left alive, to protect him from the harsh Arabian desert.”

Priced at Rs 199 in India (US$13.50 overseas), the book ISBN 978-81-904805-0-5 is 171 pages thick, and well produced. It’s both artistic and neat.

With book publishing becoming more accessible, thanks to technology and economics, many more are entering this field. Cosme’s Gogol-Margao based initiative is called Word Ventures, a nice name with a nice website too [diasdais.com].

Writes Cosme: “In a world where magic is often made out to be a substitute to human virtues, this story emphasizes the positive energy present in all living beings, who revere God as their merciful Creator.”

It’s interesting to see a Goan writer and publisher bring out fiction for children, that too with a setting in the Gulf. Would it be too much to expect some market to open up there? Or are Goans globalised enough to open young minds to wider worlds?

Incidentally, Cosme Dias is quick to acknowledge that his entry into writing was due to the encouragement he got at a young age. It came after his writing was published in the juniors’ section of a local newspaper (Herald).

Sometimes, it’s just important to encourage young people to venture into fields like writing. Newspaper sections that have promoted writing for the young have done a good job, and deserve credit. In particular, Melanie Ruth Sequeira, who wrote in local papers under the pseudonym of Aunty Mel, has encouraged a generation of young people from Goa to enter the writing field. And one never knows where it ends up.

FROM BOOKWORM

Talking about children and reading, the Sant Inez (Panjim)-based reading room and activity centre Bookworm has come out with April, June and August issues of The Bookworm Magazine.

These booklets are aimed at extending “the Bookworm library mission of encouraging a love for reading and learning while nurturing children’s capacity to think skillfully and critically through engaging and stimulating language activities”.

Each issue promises a mix of stories, craft, poems, science, “mindbogglers” and puzzlers. Design, by Umesh and Gulnar, is artistic and eye-catching.

On another note: obviously, plush new private schools are the ones that can easily afford to advertise. But we also need to accept that such institutions could be destroying social capital and the network of rural schools built over the decades, by taking away the more-affluent (and often brighter) students to already-crowded city areas! But that’s another issue ….

Priced at Rs 10 (with a few ads to subsidise its publication), this all-colour 32-page magazine is definitely good value for money. Subscriptions cost Rs 60 per year (six issues) and you can get in touch via bookworm.goa@yahoo.com or mobile 98232 22665 or 99233 22665.

Bookworm “where children learn to love books” is lcoated at

NO NUMBERS

Goa has been struggling without an updated telephone directory for the past 3, 5 or 7 years (the answer varies on whom one asks!) This obviously keeps everyone’s productivity low. You can ring 197 to enquire about a number; but that’s a waste of time, and they tell you only a few numbers for each call you make!

In the meanwhile, there are some non-BSNL diretories emerging.

The Department of Information, according to Director Menino Peres, is working to finalise its useful listing of officials in the State. Likewise, the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman has come out with their 2007-2008 directory.

This (‘Directory 2007-2008, Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, 148 pp, price Rs 30) has links to the various parishes of Goa, religious institutions, associations and “movements” linked to the Church, educational institutions and the like.

A book like this gives a hint of the large machinery called the Church, and also probably the manner in which it is still seriously under-utilised when it could do much more for social development of this small place called Goa.

Priced at only Rs 30, this book, available at the Daughters of St Paul’, could offer some useful links.

In today’s e-connected world, it makes no sense not to have publications like these — the DI forthcoming directory, and also the Archdiocese one — available online. Hopefully, the publishers will agree to convert them into PDF formats and make them more widely available to anyone who can download the same.

WITHOUT MALICE

Daniel F. De Souza’s book is titled ‘Koslich Malis Nastana’, and reminds one of Khushwant Singh’s column “With Malice Towards One And All”.

Getting a copy of his book seemed a tough job, till one ran into a copy at the St Paul’s Publications. It’s sad that books on Goa are so tough to find in Goa itself. Blame it on the poor distribution networks we have here, for books.

This 99-page Romi Konkani book is reasonably priced at Rs 60. It was published in March 2007, with a cover illustration by multi-talented journalist Pio Esteves. Its a book of Romi Konkani essays with titles like “Vell”, “Ixttagot”, “Tujem E-Mail Address Kitem?” and “Take Things For Granted”.

Author Daniel can be contacted at C3 Maria Elvira Apts, Near Vasco’s St Andrew’s Church or email dannyboy04@rediffmail.com

LISBON’S BOOK FAIR

And here’s a comment from reader Natasha Fernandes, published without further comment: “You mentioned the book fair in Portugal. I had the opportunity to go this year to the Feira dos Livros in Parque Eduardo VII in Lisbon. It had over a hundred stalls with Portuguese publishers and a whole lot of books. I think this was the 77th Feira dos Livros. Yes, I do feel we too can have such a fair in Goa. The Old Secretariat or Old GMC Complex will make a great venue.”

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Where are the publishers in Goa? If it wasn’t for a handful of initiatives — bascially small ones run by people who love books — Goa would have had none. Shouldn’t institutions like the Goa University be setting up its own “university press” and running it in a way that makes the varsity more relevant to our own society’s needs?

Recently, one came across this: “ANU E Press collects, disseminates, brands and makes available on a global electronic basis selected scholarly research undertaken at the ANU. ANU E Press facilitates communication among scholars….” https://dspace.anu.edu.au:8443/handle/1885/42748

Some food for thought about what’s possible. But who’s thinking about it?

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About fredericknoronha

Alt.Publishing. Journalism. Books. Cyberspace. Networking.

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