Anita Badhwar is the writer and illustrator of the Little Princess Rani series of books. Her work explores different aspects of India - its festivals, culture and places to visit. Her earlier titles include Rani Saves Diwali, Rani and the Safari Surprise!, Rani Visits the Taj Mahal, Rani Celebrates Holi, Rani and the Extra Special Rakhi.
On the eve of the release of her latest book "Rani's Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration", KitaabWorld caught up with the author.
What was the inspiration behind the Little Princess Rani character?
The inspiration for the Little Princess Rani character originated from a trip that I took to India in 2012. On this trip, I visited some of the most magnificent palaces in India. I also learned about some of the historical figures in Indian history along with how royal families celebrated Hindu festivals. This trip inspired me to create the Little Princess Rani character. I thought it would a fun and educational way to present information about India, Indian culture, and Hindu festivals through a character like Rani and her experiences.
Your new book Rani's Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration sounds exciting! Why did you choose this topic?
There are very few kids books in the market that discuss Ganesh Chaturthi, which is one of the reasons why I decided to write Rani’s Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration. I feel very passionate about the fact that children of South Asian heritage should be able to see themselves in children’s literature. Furthermore, I think those who are not South Asian can gain a better understanding of our culture and the Hindu religion through books such as the ones in the Little Princess Rani series.
Was there a particular incident that led you write on this?
When I first moved to our community in Florida, I had the opportunity to interact with people who were from different parts of India. Through friends I was able to learn about the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which is largely celebrated in Maharashtra and South India. Since I grew up in a North Indian family, we typically did not celebrate this festival in a grand way. So ever since I learned about the meaning and significance of the festival we have been celebrating it in our family every year.
What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The most fun part and challenging part of writing this book was incorporating the environmental theme into the book. I think kids and parents will enjoy how Rani thinks up a clever way to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in an environmentally friendly way.
Do you test out your story on your own kids or kids you know?
Absolutely! The best part of the writing process is testing out the storyline with my kids. My kids are probably my toughest critics!
How do you ensure authenticity in the books you write? Do you have a process of fact verification?
Those of my books that are about the celebration of Hindu festivals are largely based on my extensive reading along with personal experiences, observations, and general knowledge. I wrote these books in a generic manner, keeping in mind that people may celebrate the festivals in different ways based on their family’s tradition. For Rani’s Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration, my friend who is Maharashtrian, explained in detail some of the rituals associated with the festival.
How do you plan to spread the word about Rani's Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration?
I plan to promote through social media, library visits and an exciting giveaway with KitaabWorld! One lucky person gets a freshly minted copy of Rani's Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration! Click here for more information.
Any sneak preview of other books in the works?
I am in the process of thinking about some ideas for my next book, but have not decided on a particular topic as of yet.
Thanks Anita! Get your copy of Rani's Ganesh Chaturthi Celebration here.