Hi! I am Lavanya Karthik.
The Ninja Nani series brings together all the things I enjoy most in books – slapstick humour, zany characters, weird sound effects, even weirder dialogues, illustrations that do not behave themselves but wander all over the page…and comics! I enjoy writing the books since they give me a chance to jump around my house, talking in various voices, pretending to be the characters in the book (well, mostly Pongo, the grumpy pug next door)..and doing these all over again when I’m creating the comics!
RIGHT from the cover of Lavanya Karthik’s ‘Ninja Nani & The Bumbling Burglars’, you know that this is an adventure with its roots deeply entrenched in the world of details. And that means it is a book you will read more than once – not because the book is complex, but because Lavanya, like a yesteryear Queen generously showering her people with gold coins, gives us nuggets of laugh-out-loud moments, head-in-deep-thoughts moments, I-love-these-turns-of-phrases moments, I-can-totally-believe-this-happened moments, and I-really-wish-I-was-in-there moments.
Ninja Nani is a triumph of characters meeting story, of story meeting language, of language meeting illustrations, all packaged in one easily digestible adventure. 10-year-old Deepu loves his show Ninja Dragon Morimori and dreams of becoming a Ninja himself. So when his parents leave for a late-night event at the museum where his mother works, he ends up fighting for TV-time with his Nani, who is watching her favourite show with Chef Dalmakhani. As the fight for the remote intensifies and they continuously switch channels – a special mention for the narrative structure here that deftly uses text and illustration – something incredible happens and Nani gets Ninja Morimori’s powers.
What follows is a series of events with Nani thoroughly enjoying her new-found powers out on the streets, and Deepu watching and most times unwittingly becoming the recipient of Nani’s Ninja experiments – look for details of Nani’s false teeth, Tambe Hawaldar the night constable’s whistle, and Pammi Aunty and her ‘plum’, her ‘peppermint’, her ‘pickle’, Pongo’s irrepressible energy. Deepu quickly tires of being a mere bystander, lashes out at Nani for the unfairness of it all leading to Nani losing her powers, when things get murky and they become embroiled in a burglary.
The underlying thread through this roller-coaster story is Deepu and Nani’s relationship – it’s all about loving your grandparents, but thankfully, far, far away from Karan Johar’s galaxy of stars. Deepu discovers a lively person behind the wrinkles who used to trek, scuba-dive and sky dive, and Nani finds she missed being that person, too. Lavanya merges the real and the fantastical with the inspired precision and concentrated spontaneity of a scientist in a lab, and gives us an adventure with nimble feet, exactly like a ninja, with the promise of more.
Though Mr. Chandrakant Chikoowadikar Chitnis, a 90-year-old resident of an old age home who makes a brief appearance only in the cover of the book, clearly expects more as he declares in his review as a blurb at the back, ‘Exciting, but needs aliens’.