Updated: Feb 9, 2022
Author Kiran Lyall sits down with blogger Harpal Khambay, to talk all things about her latest book, ‘The Pullpots Visit Bhangraland.’
So Kiran, the major theme of this book is Bhangra. What does Bhangra mean to you?
I love Bhangra music. I say to people that I have been visiting Bhangraland since I was a little girl. As a child I would always hear those iconic sounds echoing though the house, I associate it with happiness. It’s the beat! As a young child, I never really appreciated the lyrics, I would pick a hook line and would rave to those words don’t you? As I’ve grown older and with my love for the Panjabi language being my everyday world, I feel very lucky to be able appreciate the beauty behind the words.
Where did the idea of Bhangraland come from?
I really wanted to create a book about Bhangra. But I couldn’t work out initially what the storyline should be. I realised what I love the most about Bhangra is the iconic beats. So I wanted to create a book that gave those instruments the same energy that they have in real life, and the same energy that they give to people. So I decided to bring them to life through an amazing theme park called Bhangraland, where every ride represents one of the iconic instruments used in Bhangra, for example, the Chimta Clapper. Since teaching, I also realised that so many children don’t know the names of these instruments as well, so this book is not only fictional, but is based on fact too. You know, that’s what one teacher specifically said she loved about it! Theme parks are also inclusive, and I wanted everyone to be involved, so I wrote the book in English.
The characters in the book are the Pullpots. Where did they come from?
I sat down with designer Venisha Sudra and that’s when the Pullpots were formed. Plants appeal to everyone, their bright colours make them memorable, they’re all individual and unique, much like kids themselves! They also reflect growth, and hopefully my books will help kids grow and learn as they read.
And the Pullpots are a family as well aren’t they?
Yes, the Pullpots are a family made up of grandparents and grandchildren. The whole point of their stories is to build the connection between different generations, hence the are called Baba Jee, Bibi Jee, Sunny, Happy and Honey. When I spoke to many grandparents, I asked them what they loved most doing with their grandchildren, and they said it’s the adventures that they have no matter how big or small... going to the seaside, getting ice cream. In 2017, I launched a reading scheme called the Vidya Reading Scheme. Vidya means knowledge. The characters in the scheme are the Pullpots, that was their debut! They were then brought to life in 2019, when the children’s Bhangra song, The Rung Song, was launched.
Oh yes The Rung Song! Tell us more about that.
So it’s a Bhangra song for children, which is all about colours. Since the launch of the song it’s been wonderful to see the song being enjoyed in classrooms not only in the UK, but all around the world! When I play the song in schools, children always ask me, where are the Pullpots going? In the back of my mind, there was only one place where they were going: Bhangraland.
What ride would you most like to ride at Bhangraland?
Ooh.. that’s a really good question! I think for me it has to be the Tabla Twister ride. It’s an ultra cool teacup ride, plus I love the fact that it doesn’t have any height restrictions! The whole family can go on!
Has the book turned out how you imagined?
Visually it turned out better than I imagined, as at the end of the day Bhangraland was only ever in my head. It’s beyond my imagination how Venisha brought it to life, I mean I gave her a mammoth task of creating and designing a theme park. Venisha is a phenomenal illustrator. Parents and children always tell me how much they learn from the book, especially all the instruments that they didn’t know!
So, the book is written in the form of rhyming couplets.
What was your reasoning for that?
Two reasons. One is that I wanted the rhythmic lines, or couplets, to reflect the musical nature of the story. And two, I love to perform when I tell stories, it’s a really great performance book for the classroom. Personally, I am a big fan of books that rhyme, particularly Julia Donaldson, I love her books.
So, Bhangraland is open! How can people experience the magic?
‘The Pullpots Visit Bhangraland’ is available now.