Children's Literature in Malayalam
Shiraz's comment regarding "Poompatta" and "Balarama" made me think that I should write something about these children's magazines, which I believe played a good role in developing the habit of reading among children of the 1975-1985 timeframe. (I guess it has become a very old generation now..).
During my initial days in school, I remember having long discussions among friends regarding the stories coming in Poompatta. "Kalooluvinte Koushalangal" by Mohan, was the favorite among all. Kaloolu is a very intelligent rabbit and how he escapes from various traps is the theme of each story (Unfortunately, I forgot the names of other characters in the stories). The drawings by Chandran, with Kaloolu wearing a pants, shirt, belt and shoes were cute and they were capable to ignite any child's imagination.
I don't know who is the author "Mohan". Is it his real name? The stories of Kaloolu were never collected and published as a book, and are totally forgotten now. We really miss few nice things that happened in the children's literature, and it is very sad. (An aside: who cares for it now?)
"Malamutthiyute Makkal", a novel by T Aryan Kannanoor, which came later in Mathrubhoomi weekly was another interesting one in which animals were the main characters. But I guess it is available as a book from DC Books or Current Books, and so was a little more fortunate than the stories of Kaloolu.
Coming back to Poompatta, there were lot of other stories and novels which are fondly remembered. "Amarjit Singh" was the story about two children kidnapped by the Champal bandits. There was a novel "Manu Prathap", but I don't remember much of it now. The novel "Atbhutha Vanaranmar" and the series "Appukkuttanum Gopiyum" by KV Ramanathan Sir (He was the head master of my school) were interesting and also were very popular. The witty Kapeesh, Mayavi, the stories about dogs called "Snehathinte Kathakal", A series "Mahanmaraya Bharatheeyar", many of the scientific articles.. Poompatta even had published few stories by Basheer (Ney Moshanam, Anappoota and Anavariyum Ponkurishum etc.).
The Amar Chithra Katha series from India Book House was probably the best thing that happened in childrens literature in India in the last 20-25 years. Poompatta used to translate the books from this series and publish in the magazine which was a good thing to do.
"Ampili Ammavan", which was actually a magazine that was fully translated to Malayalam, had very good and meaningful tales with good pictures. This is still being published, and I happened to see a copy few months back, and found to be dull with many spelling and grammar mistakes. The translation was really poor.
Some time back I saw a recent copy of Balarama as well. It was pathetic. No wonder kids nowadays are not much into books. Children's literature in Malayalam is currently a field that is ignored by all.