The Picture Book Buzz

Picture Book Buzz - Interview w/Shachi Kaushik and Review of Diwali in My New Home + Giveaway

Shachi Kaushik is a writer and storyteller. Part of the Children's Media Industry, she creates content for children that is entertaining, enlightening, and educational. Raised in India, Shachi currently lives in Vancouver with her husband.

Apart from children’s books, she also runs her own YouTube Channel, “Happy Hindi Learners,” a channel for parents who wish to teach their children Hindi and introduce the Indian culture.


When she is not working, Shachi spends her time hiking, watching sitcoms, and reading.

Sachhi’s debut picture book, Diwali in My New Home, released September 27th.


Welcome Shachi, thank you so much for stopping by to talk about your debut book and your writing.


Hi, thank you for having me on your blog post.


Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write? How long have you been writing? What is your favorite type of book to write?)


I was a corporate lawyer in my past life, i.e., in India. As a corporate lawyer, I wrote a LOT of contracts. I got my new calling of writing for children after I moved to the United States. I volunteered at the Round Rock Public Library as a bilingual story time host and found a few books with South Asian characters. Seeing that gap, I wanted to fill that void with my work, and I started writing for children.


As I'm just starting, I would love to write for all genres and preschool shows.


Good luck! Can you explain the “Children’s Media Industry’’?


Earlier, the children's media industry was books and television shows. But not anymore. Now it is way beyond books and television. With technology developing at a fast pace, today's children are growing up in an era where entertainment and information are at the tip of their fingers. There are apps, games, digital subscription products, content on YouTube, video series on OTT platforms, podcasts, digital toys, and so much more. It's vast and transforming rapidly.


What is something no one (or few) knows about you?


Growing up, I never read picture books, but now I love them. One reason is my school didn't have any. The picture book market wasn't big in India, but it's improving now.


I am glad the picture book market is improving. Hopefully your book will be available there, too. What was the biggest/most helpful piece of advice you’ve gotten so far?


A helpful piece of advice that I got was from author Samantha Clark. She told me there are things you can control and things you cannot. As a writer, you can always have control over your writing. Now use this advice in many aspects of life.


Great advice! What was your inspiration for Diwali in My New Home?

I hosted bi-lingual story time for children, and we celebrated Diwali at the Round Rock Public library each year. Over the years, the Diwali event for children at the library became popular within the community and received a significant response from parents. Seeing the joy on children's faces during the Diwali event gave me the idea for my book Diwali In My New Home. I wanted to share the celebration of the festival of lights, Diwali, with those unfamiliar with the holiday.


I'm glad you did. How many revisions did Diwali in My New Home take from the first draft to publication?


I do not have a count, but I would say a lot. The first draft was 1,200 words, but now it's under 500. At one point, I not only revised my book but rebranded it. I changed the title and the character's name to give it a fresh look. I can say it worked.


And what was the toughest aspect of writing Diwali in My New Home?


For the story, I had two endings. To pick the perfect ending was difficult. One of the endings was the main character going to the Diwali Mela, a Diwali Faire. The second one was the character celebrating it with her neighbors, which is the current ending. For me, picking the right one was difficult, but fortunately the critique group and my agent helped me pick the right one.

Thank goodness for critique partners and agents! As a child, who was your favorite author, illustrator, and/or favorite book?


Keki N. Daruwalla, an Indian author. His story, Love Across the Salt Desert, is one of my favorites.


Is there anything you want your readers to know about or gain from Diwali in My New Home?


Diwali In My New Home is a book not just about showing the celebration of Diwali, but it's a story for anybody who moves to a new country, a new city, or a new neighborhood. Moving to a new place can be overwhelming.

I'd also like people to embrace their culture and traditions and share them with the community.


I do really like that it can apply to many situations. When you first saw Aishwarya Tandon’s illustrations, did anything surprise or amaze you? Which is your favorite spread?

Text © Shachi Kaushik, 2022. Image © Aishwarya Tandon, 2022.

Aishwarya has done fantastic work. Her detailed, colorful illustration brings this story to life and brings the true colors of Diwali right from India. I was lucky to meet Aishwarya on my trip to India.


Author Shachi Kaushik and illustrator Aishwarya Tondoon


Looks like you had fun! Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?


As an author, I am writing new books and trying to expand the genres. I continue to work in production.


We'll have to keep a lookout for what you do next. Last question, what is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?

I love visiting national parks; each has its own beauty and a new hike. Staying in Texas, I'm biased toward Big Bend National Park. One of the National Park that's on my bucket list is Glacier National Park of Canada.


Thank you, Shachi, for stopping by and sharing your time and thoughts with us. It was wonderful to chat with you.


To find out more about Shachi Kaushik, or contact her:

Website: https://storiesbyshachi.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaushikShachi

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/storiesbyshachi/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaushikShachi/fd


If you are in the Austin, Texas area, you can join Shachi Kaushik @:
Special Edition Pajama Storytime
Diwali Celebration

Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 6:00 PM

Austin Public Library - Spicewood Springs Branch
8637 Spicewood Springs Rd.

Indian Heritage Festival

Saturday, October 29, 2022 - 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Austin Public Library - Spicewood Springs Branch

8637 Spicewood Springs Rd.

Review of Diwali in my New Home


Admittedly unfamiliar with Diwali, I found this a heartfelt book on resilience, the importance of family and friends, and a wonderful introduction to this special holiday.

Diwali in my New Home


Author: Shachi Kaushik


Illustrator: Aishwarya Tandon


Publisher: Beaming Books (2022)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Diwali, resilience, family, friends, and flexibility.


Synopsis:

Priya loves being with family and friends to watch fireworks and celebrate Diwali. But this year Priya and her parents are living in the United States, and no one seems to know about the holiday. Priya misses the traditions in India. But as she strings lights outside and creates rangoli art, Priya introduces the festival of lights to her neighbors. And even though the celebration is different this year, it's still Diwali.


A heartwarming story of celebrating in a new place and sharing the Hindu festival of lights with those unfamiliar with the holiday


Opening Lines:

Today is Diwali, the festival of lights.

It’s Priya’s favorite holiday.


The colorful decorations, shimmering fireworks, and gathering

of family and friends always fill her heart with joy.


What I LOVED about this book:

As Diwali approaches, Priya can't help but compare her earlier, colorful, vibrant, and exciting celebrations in India

Text © Shachi Kaushik, 2022. Image © Aishwarya Tandon, 2022.


The colorful decorations, shimmering fireworks, and gathering

of family and friends always fill her heart with joy.


with her new neighborhood and school in the U.S.

Text © Shachi Kaushik, 2022. Image © Aishwarya Tandon, 2022.


Here, the streets are empty, and nothing is

decorated. Everything looks dull.


Aishwarya's illustrations beautifully capture the stark contrast, sadness, and longing that Priya feels on her first Diwali away from India.


Sadly returning from school, a wafting scent of cardamom and warm ghee, lifts Priya's spirits. Her new house "smells like Diwali." Helping her mother clean and decorate the inside of their house and then starting a colored sand rangoli on her porch, makes it feel a just little more like the Diwali celebrations she remembers. The delicious smells wafting from the kitchen, colorful rangoli, and strings of lights capture her new neighbor's interest and her father invites them to join his family's celebration.


Just before the neighbors arrive, Priya joins her parents, in their traditional clothing, wearing her "special embroidered salwar kameez" and bangles. With the beginning of the Diwali ceremony, it finally feels more like the holiday she remembers from India. Then, as the incense mingles with smiles, loud giggles, and sparklers Priya's nostalgic yearning eases and she begins to see the special nature of this Diwali celebration. The final two spreads radiate hope, love, and friendship, with a wonderful diversity that hints at many more discoveries for all of them.

Text © Shachi Kaushik, 2022. Image © Aishwarya Tandon, 2022.


Interwoven throughout the text are wonderful insights into elements of Diwali which some readers may not be familiar with - "A rangoli will bring luck and happiness." Further information about Diwali and a helpful glossary assist as well. This is a wonderful book for those discovering or celebrating Diwali, for kids facing changes (especially immigrants, refugees, or adoptees meshing two cultures), and a fun read on the importance of family and friends.


Resources:

- make your own paper collage, coffee filter, or chalk rangoli.

- try making salt dough diya or clay lights.

- does you community have a Diwali celebration? If not, enjoy a virtual Diwali story time,

- what celebrations are important to you and your family? Write a description or draw some images of things associated with your special celebration.


Diwali in My New Home Giveaway


Great news, Shachi is offering one lucky reader a copy of Diwali in My New Home .

- Simply comment below to be entered in the random drawing on November 1st.

- Be sure to say where (if) you shared the post (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), and I'll add additional entries for you.

- *Sorry US Residents only.*

Decorative scroll design
Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

Decorative scroll design

Follow Me

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • 1473394675_goodreads
  • Pinterest

Archive

Categories