Behind the Scenes: “From Life to Story: Connecting Cultures” by Harshita Jerath

I’ve always been a fan of familiar stories told through other cultures. Harshita Jerath has created a delightful new version of the familiar Gingerbread Man by shifting the setting to India. Here she tells how that idea sprang from real life experiences and her efforts to connect her children to her native land. 

Harshita is offering a GIVEAWAY! A copy of her debut picture book, THE LEAPING LADDOO. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win. 

“From Life to Story: Connecting Cultures” by Harshita Jerath.Jerath_Harshita_RGB_Theresa-Green-Photography-scaled

Thank you, Beth, for the opportunity to share the story behind my story.

To understand the genesis of this book, I need to share my background. I grew up in India, where Ive lived more than half of my life. After my move to the United States, I made sure to keep my children connected with my family in India, its heritage, and its culture by visiting them often.

To prepare my then-toddler kids for the India trips, I read parenting tips to make our overseas travel as uneventful as possible. One important tip was introducing the place ahead of the trip, so there are no shockers. I found no picture books about India, so I became a storyteller instead. I told my kids theyll be welcomed by the honking melody of the traffic, cows lazying on the roads, chai vendors selling tea, and so on.

TheLeapingLaddoo_CVRWhen we arrived in India, I could tell from my childrens eyes that they could relate to the street cacophony- the first piece of India they encountered. And it made me comfortable knowing they are too.

With that background, on my sons eighth birthday, I wanted to surprise him by making laddoos, a round-shaped Indian dessert. One laddoo slipped off my hand while I was shaping laddoos, and I said, “Oh, an Indian Gingerbread Man!” That was the start of the story. I noted the idea onto my kitchen notepad before it disappeared in thin air.

From there on, the story began to form. I added the elements and the imagery. I sprinkled a tongue twister in Hindi, an Indian language, so that young readers can have fun with words. Cricket, a game played with bat and ball, is the heart of India. I included that too. I kept reminiscing my time in India, and the story wrote itself. 

It brings me so much joy to share that this idea is now my debut book coming out in March 2022. 

The story begins with the laddoo coming to life and running away on the streets of India. A series of interesting characters chase after the laddoo to get a bite, but the haughty laddoo runs away chanting, Picture1

Bhago Bhago as fast as you can.

You cant eat me. Im the laddoo man.

Im amazed at how different elements of my life came together to form this story, now a book. The Gingerbread Man story turned out to be the perfect platform I needed to introduce the streets of India. I hope that having a base of a familiar story would ground the young readers, and the cultural aspect would provide freshness by introducing India and its culture.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of THE LEAPING LADDOO! (US addresses only, please)

32 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: “From Life to Story: Connecting Cultures” by Harshita Jerath

    1. OMG!! What a creative concept!! Loved your idea of relating the ladoo to the the gingerbread man. Can’t wait to read this book. Would love for you to come and read it to my class I teach for IAWW/IACS – Indian American Community Services in seattle. Our classes are on zoom right now due to pandemic every Thursday 10:30 to 11:30 am PST. Would to invite you and read the book to the my class.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This sounds so much fun and I loved learning the story behind your book. Learning about other cultures is a priority for me; one of my fiends is from India and I always enjoy her stories of growing up and visiting now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our kids enjoyed your book. The thoughtful addition of Laddoo recipe and the back story of how this book came to life is a plus. It took me to my own childhood memories of the excitement and fun associated with the Laddoo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great backstory leading to the birth of your book! I love stories about India because we adopted a son from Pondicherry many years ago. I wished I had books like this to share with him. This does sound like a delightful retelling of the Gingerbread Man. Congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the way your idea for your book came to be. Having a retelling of the Gingerbread Man is the perfect way to introduce children to the streets of India. Congratulations, Harshita!

    Liked by 1 person

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