Dubai: From a mysterious town holding a dark secret to a storm-fighting princess, there are many things that UAE students wrote about in their first books during the stay-at-home period earlier this year following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Amrita Kripa Minimenon, a Grade 7 student at GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai, had been yearning to write a book for a long time but just couldn’t find enough time. But as Amrita “undeniably had a lot of time this year on my hands” because of school closure due to the pandemic, she grabbed the chance to become a self-published novelist from home. Her book ‘Enigmatic Serowood’ is about a group of friends accidentally meeting up again after many years in their hometown, where a person has mysteriously disappeared.
Her work was inspired by the idea of “anonymity” and her love for plots unfolding “a continued and repetitive conflict, but instead of one antagonist, a team of antagonists have carried it out”. Amrita has earlier written numerous poems on “diverse topics” and is now writing a new book about “travel and its inevitable emotions”.
“This experience of writing books has taught me that the extent of our imagination is truly powerful. We can truly imagine miraculous things and it doesn’t matter if it’s close to reality or not, as long as it satisfies you,” Amrita said.
‘I like kindness’
Meanwhile, Keara Gajria, a Year 4 student at GEMS Founders School — Dubai, wanted to combine two goals into one — encourage kindness and write her first book (preferably with magic in it the plot). Her 40-pager ‘Kindness and Magic: In the Winter Village’ sees Crystle, a kind-hearted princess, face a “frightening hailstorm” that has come to threaten her kingdom and her friends.
“I like magic, I like kindness, and I like winter and snow. So I decided to combine them and make a story. I enjoyed creating the characters and [guide someone to produce] the illustrations from my imagination. I handwrote the story on paper first, every day for an hour or two, and then I typed it out. I had my dedicated desk for working on my book,” said Keara, whose mother got in touch with a publisher to get the book published. Kara likes to read (mostly fiction) and write, and enjoys arts and crafts. By writing her book, which took three months to finish, Keara wanted to “encourage kindness among children”.
Taming the Python
For Year 8 student Amritesh Banerjee, who studies at GEMS Cambridge International School, making computer programming easy to learn was a main goal of his first book, ‘Introduction to Python Programming’. “I used to think of programming as a very difficult subject; everyone thinks like that before they actually try to study it. But after trying it, and after my dad encouraged me, it completely changed my perspective about computer programming and I wanted to change others’ perspectives as well,” Amritesh said. He had started taking some courses from Microsoft online and “was amazed at how easy programming was”. After finishing the book, he had the book reviewed by a “computer scholar” who works for IBM.
The book, published by Kindle, is written in such a way that it can change the preconception that programming is too hard, he added. “I had never written a book in my life before, so putting down this much content on paper was quite a notable experience. I’m definitely considering writing another book. The planning stage of my next book is already underway,” Amritesh said. He did not give away what the book would be about, but said it would be around 250 to 300 pages long, non-fiction, and would be published in a little less than a year from now.
At least six other GEMS Education students from various schools have written individual books during their “quarantine time”, during which the world saw a growth of pandemic literature, a topic that some of the students also focused on.
Some other recent student books:
Violet and the Nasty Virus by Shradha Sujeeth, GEMS Modern Academy
The Stones of Eternity by Adwaith Arun, Year 7, Jumeirah College
Never Alone by Victoria Georgieva Nedyalkova, Year 6, The Winchester School — Jebel Ali
Caterpillar You Are Special (book of poetry) by Ayana Ammanath, Year 7, Cambridge International School — Dubai
Tolerance for Happiness by Sanith Santhasa Piyadigamage, Year 8, The Winchester School — Jebel Ali
Mixed Canvas. Collection of stories whose authors include GEMS Modern Academy students Gunjit Nasa (Year 7), Raed Zidan (Year 8), Siddharth Menon (Year 7), Diya Anil (Year 7), Kriti Malay Gupta (Year 7), Ishanvi Shetty (Year 7), Mahatru Hariharan (Year 7)