Author Vibha Batra takes the reader into the heart and mind of young Pinkoo Shergill who nurtures the desire to become an ace pastry chef
Children have dreams and those dreams need to be honoured. Pinkoo Shergill Pastry Chef exemplifies this truism. Pinkoo and his family make us realize the fragility of the human spirit and the need to constantly nourish it. As adults tend to get shaped by their own set of circumstances, his father thinks cooking is not a man’s domain. He dreams of his son becoming an ace shooter, a dream he could not fulfill. The paradox: little Pinkoo can only dream of baking while bullets miss the targets in the shooting range. Cakes, cookies, pastries and the desire to make that perfect bake brings Pinkoo alive and makes him befriend an enemy too.
Like most children’s literature, Vibha Batra has touched upon the deepest aspirations that lie within all of us. She has highlighted the need to listen to the child’s dreams, nurture the talent and shape it accordingly. Pushing a child to do what doesn’t interest him or her leads to stress and disappointment. Also, the individual identity of the child flourishes in a comforting and encouraging environment. There are many positive themes in the book such as friendship, helping hands, passion igniting more passion, the importance of a good teacher and embracing little joys of life even if you don’t win the bigger game. There are many positive characters such as a wise grandma, a chef who decides to teach despite a challenging injury and an enemy who turns out to be a vulnerable soul in search of love and harmony, a cousin and a friend who stand by no matter what and conspire to fulfill your dreams.
Full of onomatopoeias and regional dialect, the book might fluster some puritans. But then this is the age of innovations and new words are probably ringing in every child’s head. Illustrated and designed by Shamika Chaves, the book is an enjoyable read.
Based in Chennai, this is Vibha Batra’s 18th book. A graphic novelist, advertising consultant, poet, lyricist, translator, playwright, travel writer and columnist, she conducts creative writing workshops for children and adults both independently and at the British Council Chennai. In an email chat, she tells us what keeps here creative juices flowing:
What draws you to writing for young adults? In India, this is not a popular genre with many authors.
Okay, here’s a confession: I think of myself as a Young Adult (On some days, younger). And as the hubby likes to say, ‘Behaves like one, too’! I just write about the things that I care about.
How do you shape your plots? How many characters make an ideal book?
How do I make this sound extremely mysterious? Sometimes the characters walk into my head, take up residence, and refuse to leave till I transfer their stories on to MS Word. Sometimes they play hard to get.
How many characters? No hard and fast rule. If you need just one to tell the story you want to tell, one’s enough.
Did you take any formal training in writing?
Does writing advertising copy for years count as formal training? Because I’m going to the great copydesk in the sky.
How long does it take to write a book like Pinkoo Shergill?
A lifetime of being a tween is all it takes.
Does every story need to have a moral or a good end?
That would be a bit predictable and boring, no? #NoRules.
Are you going to make this a sequel? Would you like to take Pinkoo to more cities and countries?
Sequel? *gasps*. Thanks, everyone. No pressure. But as they say, never say never. So let’s see how it goes.
Do you think the literature for children has undergone a transition in the last three decades?
I’m sure it has.
5 books that every book lover should read.
The Secret Life of Debbie G, Sweet Sixteen trilogy, Pinkoo Shergill Pastry Chef, Glitter and Gloss, Bathinda to Bangkok. All by the same author – me!
Publisher: Scholastic India
Paperback: 200 pages
Reading age: 8 – 12 years
Price: INR 295