As a young child, Mona Ahuja listened to her mom tell magical stories about the Moon. Through those tales, Ahuja began to understand the importance of the Moon in Indian culture and folklore, an understanding she has since passed along to her three boys. Her love for storytelling and the vibrant imaginations of children led to Ahuja pursuing a career in writing.
Born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in the Bay Area, Ahuja first began her career in, at the time, the new industry of Internet Security. While the work was exciting and new, Ahuja soon chose to pursue her passion of working with children and instead began teaching dance to little ones. Her ability to connect and engage with youth has been much more fulfilling, and the experience even inspired her to explore her creative side. In doing so, Ahuja developed some of her ideas and began writing stories as a way to not only connect with children, but also continue the tradition of storytelling and the sharing of cultural folklore.
Chanda Mama is the perfect bedtime story for families to enjoy together and represents Ahuja’s fascination with the moon, which began when she was young. She shares, “As a child, on road trips, I would spends hours staring up at the sky in wonder of the Moon and its connection and power over Earth.” From wondering whether a “Man on the Moon” truly existed to watching the moon rise, Ahuja’s love for the beauty of the moon shines through the pages of her new book. Her stories about the moon helped to soothe her young boys at bedtime, and later inspired her share these tales with other parents. In Chanda Mama, readers join a young boy as he follows the moon in the night sky. The calming illustrations and gently-told story make Chanda Mama a much-needed addition to any family’s bedtime routine.
Who inspires your writing?
My children are my greatest inspiration for writing and telling stories. Children, in general, have an amazing imagination and are extremely observant. They notice and question everything. I don’t always have the age-appropriate answer for them, so I tend to draw on my creative side and stretch the truth a bit. Some may not agree with this method, but I love to see where it takes them. Often they continue on with my initial ideas and add their own stories. It’s a wonderful way to see how their minds work.
What are your thoughts on the diversity of books currently available in schools and public libraries?
I don’t think that it is as diverse as it should be, but it is definitely more so than when I was growing up. I’m happy to see that and thankful that my kids will be exposed to our culture and heritage through these books. Picture books are an excellent way to introduce different cultures to young children. My own personal library consists of books from Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, India, and many other countries. Stories about animals, the moon and sky gods, and fishing all captivate young audiences and reflect what is important to those cultures. Today, it’s more important than ever that our young children have that exposure and understanding starting at a young age. They need to understand that no matter where you come from, we, as humans, are all very similar in our need for connection, family, and love.
Written by Mona Ahuja
Illustrated by Sid Veloria
Published by Lekha Ink
Bask in the moonlight with this sweet tale of a boy’s affection for Chanda Mama, Mother Earth’s loving and protecting brother. Just as a brother watches over his sister and her family, Indian folklore teaches that the Moon, known colloquially as Chanda Mama, watches over the Earth and the Earth’s children. This beautiful picture book continues the Indian tradition of love for the moon. This beautifully illustrated tale is the perfect reading for bedtime.
Visit www.lekhaink.com for more information and to purchase your copy.
About the Author
Rina Shah is the CEO and founder of The Arpan Group, a boutique ad agency and public relations firm that specializes in capturing untouched ethnic markets. From press releases and media kits to marketing materials and by-line articles, The Arpan Group customizes solutions based on the client’s needs. For more information, visit www.thearpangroup.com or call (703) 651-6670.
Article appears in April 2017 issue of Desh-Videsh magazine.