As he talks about what a budding storyteller should know, Motti Aviram, a leading figure in children’s television industry in Israel, quotes Antoine de Saint Exupéry, author of bestselling novella The Little Prince. “All grown-ups were once children — although few of them remember it,” he says. As the second edition of Jumpstart begins today at the Goeth-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, experts and amateurs come together to better understand a child’s world. Organised by the German Book Office, New Delhi, the theme is ‘Get Storyfied’ and talks about what Australian author Leonie Norrington calls ‘writing with character’ and how to best narrate a story visually.
It will see names including Ameen Ul Haque, founder of StoryWallahs, game developer and satirist Anand Ramachandran, and Melbourne-based Nicki Greenberg take centrestage. Best known for her bold rendition of The Great Gatsby which uses fantastical creatures to tell Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz classic, Greenberg’s focus will be on visual narrative techniques. “Kids are a wonderful audience because they get so wholeheartedly engaged in stories. For younger children, the membrane between the real and the imagined is very porous – the two often merge together. I love that,” says Greenberg. “All children’s authors are aware that kids are a brutally honest audience. If something doesn’t resonate with them, you will know instantly,” she adds.
Finding your own voice, feels Greenberg, is very important for a budding storyteller. “This is something that emerges from practice, and critical reviewing of your work. Picture book texts may look simple because they are short, but the opposite is true. In a short text, every word, every pause and every image has to be just right, and needs to pull its weight to carry the story,” she says. Aviram, who often goes to kindergartens to screen pilots of TV series, says the idea is to see how kids react to content. “The most wonderful thing happens when they like your work. They experience it in all their senses. They laugh out loud, yell at the characters and are afraid when they think that something bad is going to happen to the characters. On the other hand, your creation has a very big competitor. The big red truck that they left in the sandbox is still waiting for them there. If your story doesn’t interest them enough, they have no problem in getting up in the middle of the film and going back to that,” he elaborates.
Register at jumpstartfest.com