Coming soon – a pie of procrastination

The things I must bake before I get back to writing …

A lemon tart of laziness

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(Brilliant recipe by Rachel Allen)

An apple crumble of conscious delay

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A cookie jar of careful-putting-off

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Coming soon … a pie of procrastination

Maharaja Moochh cupcakes!

Look what I rediscovered as I was browsing through the Icky, Yucky, Mucky blog that was started when my first book released! Wonderful (if I may say so myself) Maharaja Moochh cupcakes that I had created back then.

Inspired at the time by Maharaja Icky, they fit the role of Vandana Bist’s portrayal of Akbar in Akbar and the Tricky Traitor rather well! In fact, since many of our maharaja’s had moustaches of all forms, moochh cupcakes can quite easily work for the entire History-Mystery series!

As you scroll down to take a look, for those who are cooking and baking inclined, here is a idea for your next food creation. In Mauryan times, brightly coloured beards were a fashion statement amongst men. How about trying out a cupcake-la-beard? Please share photographs if you do try.

Take a look at Akbar’s and Maharaja Icky’s moustaches on the book covers. Aren’t they wonderfully full and perfectly curled?

Akbar coverIcky Yucky Mucky

The boys were thrilled to munch away on the Maharaja’s moustaches.

Back then, the girls decided to do a messier version of fairy cupcakes till we could get around to a nibbly Maharani cupcake. A closer look revealed that those crescent things on top could well be Maharani Yucky’s nibbled off nails instead of fairy wings!

An Icky, Yucky, Mucky song to round off Holi

As I scrubbed out the colour after another colourful Holi festival, the mess and slush all around made me break into the Icky, Yucky, Mucky song.

For those of you who haven’t heard it, you couldn’t possibly choose a better day to hear my editor Anita Roy, multi-talented illustrator Anitha Balachandran and me croon!

Presenting, without any further ado, the ICKY, YUCKY, MUCKY song, based entirely on the book Icky, Yucky, Mucky!

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Author of the month on The Duckbill Gang

Mighty pleased to be Author of the Month on the lovely website, The Duckbill Gang. 

If you haven’t already, do visit it for your children to sign up and get access to all kinds of fun around books and writing. As author of the month, I’ll be posting on writing, inspiration, grocery lists, stick figures, writing contests and more.

Here’s my first post:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Shudder!

 

Get cracking! History Mystery code sheets!

Am delighted to share the History Mystery code sheets as a do-at-home activity with your kids.

Ashoka front coverAshoka and the Muddled Messages features a mystery of Emperor Ashoka’s messages being muddled.

In real life we had forgotten how to read the script that Emperor Ashoka had his messages written in. We had the mystery of the unreadable script! Along came James Prinsep, determined to decipher it, which he eventually did in 1837. Ashokan Brahmi is India’s earliest deciphered written script today.

Key on stoneI’ve created a simplified code and created activity sheets based on letters from Ashokan Brahmi. Decode them and read shortened versions of some of Ashoka’s messages. Follow the link for the sheets and code: THE HISTORY MYSTERY CODE ACTIVITY.

 

Rooster Raga crows at Young India books

Rooster Raga cover scan low resReview time for Rooster Raga. Delighted to read this on the Young India Books website.

“A visual treat with its brilliant colours, great layout and minimal text! This book is sure to delight and entertain children everywhere… 

…On the surface, the story is bright, effervescent and fun, but deep down it conveys an all-important message to children – It is alright to be different. Everyone has his or her own special talent and own special challenges. It is neccessary to understand and appreciate them and ford our own individual paths with confidence.”

-Young India Books

 

Mystical history at the Ajanta and Ellora caves

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Spent an outstanding weekend exploring the Ajanta and Ellora caves. The monuments outdid all expectations both in terms of their gorgeous paintings and sculptures, as well as the state that you find them in today. We’d had people tell us that they smell, have bats and more. The caves were incredibly clean – the main ones required that you take off your footwear before entering.

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Depiction of a bride and groom seated in a balcony

The walls of these caves are books with the panels of paintings and sculpture holding a wealth of stories in them. You hear the stories come alive as you walk around the cave and follow the actions and expressions of the people portrayed. The panel on the Mahabharta and Ramayana cut into stone row upon row read as an Amar Chitra Katha comic would without blurbs.

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Panels from the Ramayana

Ajanta is stunning with its location, detailed paintings and colours that have survived despite years of neglect and having been lost and forgotten in the forest. A Britisher named John Smith accidentally spotted them while out on a hunting trip in 1819.

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The sheer rock that cut and carved at the Kailasa temple

The caves at Ellora, made almost a 1000 years after Ajanta are more ornate. The paintings have largely been destroyed – the caves had villagers living and cooking inside them for years. Despite that, what has survived is truly extraordinary. The Kailasa rock-cut temple, cut into the rock with not a single joint, defies all understanding of how they visualised and created it. Spread over 25000sft, it is the world’s largest rock-cut cave temple and is dedicated to Shiva. IMG_6545-2 low

The acoustics in the Buddhist caves, where every chant reverberates through the hall and fills your senses, leaves you with an immense feeling of peace.

My kids enjoyed the visit and the drive from Aurangabad to Ajanta was two hours of history talk (my younger one claimed it kept her from feeling carsick). I hope that the place gets more visitors from across India and outside for it truly is a place worth experiencing.

In the meantime, I’m making notes for it has my head buzzing with an idea for another in my History-Mystery series at some stage!

The Reading Raccoons on Ashoka and the Muddled Messages

Review time!

” History is not easily lapped up by kids. My younger one, at least, tries to avoid all references to the subject. So, when he picked up a book from Natasha Sharma‘s History Mystery series, I was pleasantly surprised. Two books from the series are out, and we have read Ashoka and the Muddled messages. The plot is hilarious with the king’s edicts ending up muddled every time he sends them out to his kingdom. When he asks everyone to turn vegetarian, his edict gets muddled, and ends up inscribed on stone, encouraging people to make animal sacrifices! So who is muddling up the messages, and creating utter chaos across the kingdom? 

The Agramatya’s beard, that he colours in the most outrageous shades, the Tremendous Ten and their antics, the queen’s tantrums – all make the whodunnit fairly interesting. What we absolutely loved about the book was the brief, simple facts about the king given at the back , a page in the end for ‘My hysterical History notes,’ and the absolutely lovely illustrations by Tanvi Bhat. 

Must read for the younger raccoons. In fact my ten year old also enjoyed it, so it is definitely not limited to that age group.”

- Tanu Shree Singh on The Reading Raccoons

Available in bookstores and online retailers including Amazon  flipkart  infibeam

On my historically geographically challenged past…

Here’s a blog piece that I wrote for my publisher Duckbill’s blog regarding history, geography and more such.

Ooty and Orissa

Natasha Sharma, the author of the History-Mystery series, on her struggles with history and geography at school and beyond!

There is one bit of history that I recall clearly from school – the Indus Valley civilisation. It intrigued me. The layout of their cities, the thought put into buildings and public spaces, the drainage system, the statue of the dancing girl, the seals … it all built up this world in my head that has stayed with me ever since. On my earliest visit to the National Museum, I remember heading straight for the Harappan section and getting goosebumps on seeing the relics from thousands of years ago.

And that’s really where all my fascination with history ended back then.

History, apart from that first chapter, was my most dreaded subject. Okay, probably second from the bottom of my list, geography being the lowest. I was extremely geographically challenged back and even at the risk of being ridiculed ever after, I shall reveal the moment that I look back at myself in utter horror…

Read ahead here …

http://theduckbillblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/natasha-sharma-ooty-and-orissa/

Visit the History Mystery series page to know more about the books and for links to buy the books or ebooks.

Click on the book covers below to read the first chapter from each book.

Akbar cover    Ashoka front cover