Literature Across Borders: 2024

Literature Across Borders: second year

Our highly successful Year One of Literature Across Borders saw students from Bath Spa and Ashoka University, India, trade notes on green books published for young readers in both countries. Discover what students from both universities learned through their reading and discussions here.

You can read more about this in LEAF journal, which published two proceedings pieces – the first a series of eight student reflections, and the second a staff summary of how the project was conceptualised, planned and delivered – and our hopes for Year Two and the future.  

Pair one: Fireblood and The Torchbearers

In our first pairing for this edition of the literary exchange, we looked at mythical adventures with green themes. 

Images of book covers Fireblood and The Torchbearers

Fireblood: The First Flight by Sam Stewart

Dragons don’t exist. But they used to... 

Discovering that the magic of dragons flows through your veins is frightening – and liberating! But with the powers of dragonkind comes a desperate quest: siblings Finn and Tula must travel to a hidden island fortress to help save their father – and a world on the verge of ‘volcanic’ collapse.   

"[Fireblood] has a lot of appeal... It does not treat mythology and all these [mythological] creatures as larger-than-life, awe-inspiring, but... as playful creatures you can interact with..."

John Damian Scaria, Ashoka University

The Torchbearers by AB Majmudar

Like any bored eleven-year-old with an imagination, Prem makes fantastic wishes. What he certainly doesn’t wish for is a quest to save some gods who are at the brink of extinction.  

He finds that the gods’ last hope lies in the hands of those who channel the mysterious power of the Vedas. Caught in a cosmic crossfire, with a talking fish, some inventive monkeys and a few unexpected allies, Prem learns of his true identity-as a Torchbearer. Can the Torchbearers stop bloodthirsty demons who have taken over the forces of nature and threaten its bounty? 

"I really enjoyed the world-building. I thought it was incredibly well written... I have been to India before and what I loved about [this book] is that it brought the Hindu Gods to life for me [and] put an entirely different slant to my understanding of Hindu Gods"

Annette Luker, Bath Spa University

For the full conversation between Annette and John, the student dialogue is hosted on the Greenlitfest YouTube channel. 

Watch Annette reading her favourite piece from The Torchbearers on their channel. John reads his favourite piece from Fireblood in this video.

Watch the full discussion between writers Sam Stewart and AB Majudar on our YouTube channel.

Pair Two: The Wilderness War and A Cloud Called Bhura 

In our second pairing for this edition of the literary exchange, we will look at groups of children exploring ways of overcoming the effects of environmental destruction around them. Fuzaila from Ashoka will talk with Friederike and Abigail from Bath Spa.

Images of book covers The Wilderness War and A Cloud called Bhura

The Wilderness War by Julia Green 

A summer spent in the place Noah and his friends call the Wilderness, is a summer spent making dens, sleeping under the stars, and toasting marshmallows over an open fire. It's freedom. 

Until one day their Wilderness is sold and set for development and their dens torn down to make way for houses. For Noah and his friends this means war and they'll do anything to stop the Wilderness being destroyed. 

A Cloud Called Bhura: Climate Champions to the Rescue by Bijal Vachharajani 

Amni wakes up one morning to find the sky taken over by a huge brown cloud. Where did this cloud appear from suddenly? Even as she and her friends Mithil, Tammy and Andrew start finding out more, their city of Mumbai starts reeling from the changes the cloud brings to the weather. Bhura Cloudus, as the media calls it, contains noxious gases, causes scalding rain to fall, makes birds flee the city, and suffocates every living thing. Can the forces of friendship and courage help counter this deadly threat? 

Pair Three: The Lost Words: A Spell Book and Beastly Tales from Here and There 

In our third pairing for this edition of the literary exchange, we will examine illustrated verse with a focus on nature and wildlife. Akshay from Ashoka will join Suzanne and Clare from Bath Spa for a conversation. 

Images of book covers The Lost Words and Beastly Tales

The Lost Words: A Spell Book by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris 

All over Britain, there are words disappearing from children’s lives. Words like Dandelion, Otter, Bramble, Acorn and Lark represent the natural world of childhood, a rich landscape of discovery and imagination that is fading from children’s minds. Standing against the disappearance of wild childhood, The Lost Words is a joyful celebration of the poetry of nature words and the living glory of the distinctive, British countryside.    

Beastly Tales from Here and There by Vikram Seth and Prabha Mallya 

A tortoise who outran a hare, a monkey who outwitted a crocodile… glorious animal fables from India, China, Greece, Ukraine and ‘from the land of Gup’ come alive in sparkling verse, regaling readers young and old.   

Pair Four: Diary of a Young Naturalist and A Naturalist’s Journal 

In our final pairing for this edition of the literary exchange, Sakshi from Ashoka will join John from Bath Spa to discuss  memoirs that speak of life in nature. 

Images of book covers Diary of a Young Naturalist and A Naturalist's Journal

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty 

A deeply moving chronicle of the young author’s world as it turns from spring to summer, autumn to winter, on his home patch, at school, in the wild and in his head. With a sense of awe and wonder, he describes the encounters in his garden and the wild, with blackbirds, whooper swans, red kites, hen harriers, frogs, dandelions, skylarks, bats, cuckoo flowers, Irish hares and many more species, drawing a moving portrait of a close-knit family making their way in the world. 

A Naturalist’s Journal by Yuvan Aves 

From the acrobatics and apparent eccentricities of the Indian roller to the little barbet that watches people around with endless curiosity from the hollow of a tree… the natural world comes alive in the personal observations of a self-taught young naturalist as he immerses himself joyously in nature. 

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.



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