Seventh in the Butterfingers series, the book has the children participating in a badminton match with a difference
Amar Kishen, aka Butterfingers, is back in the game with Smash It, Butterfingers!. Amar’s class has to participate and win in a badminton match to bag a cash prize to buy books for the library of Green Park School.
Created by author Khyrunnisa A, Amar, the 13-year-old who can’t seem to stay out of trouble and mishaps, has taken his readers for many adventures and this is the seventh in the series. The charm of the stories lies in the fact that in spite of his bumbling and proclivity for trouble, unflappable Amar manages to emerge on top every time.
Unlike many other children’s books that revolve around fantasy, folk tales, mysteries, mythology and investigations, Khyrunnisa turns to sports to transport her readers to the playground where her characters play their improvised versions of cricket, football and badminton matches.
Fun with sports
An avid follower of sports, Khyrunnisa comes up with stories that fuse sports and fun with the everyday routine of a school. Amar, his friends, the principal, teachers and office staff are characters each of us can relate to.
“Butterfingers first appeared in a prize-winning short story I wrote for a competition conducted by Tinkle magazine. I always felt there was scope for the plot to be made into a full-fledged book. When I got the opportunity to write a book, I revived my first story about Butterfingers. It was about a cricket match and so my first book, Howzzat Buterfingers!, was about cricket and school,” says the author.
Goal Butterfingers! (2012) and Clean Bowled, Butterfingers! (2015) followed. Three books of short stories about Butterfingers and his antics were also published.
At a time, when children are glued to their screen for online lessons and entertainment, the Butterfingers books bring home the excitement, fun and sheer pleasure of games played outdoors.
The second book was meant to be about Butterfingers courting tennis, Khyrunnisa says she realised that tennis is an expensive game for many children. “I decided to write about badminton, which is more accessible. Moreover, badminton was gaining popularity in India thanks to champions like Pullella Gopichand, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal,” she says.
Khyrunnisa read up on badminton to learn about the change in rules and scoring and saw several matches to capture the spirit of the game. “Although I play badminton, I had to update myself on a number of changes that were introduced to make it more attractive for viewers,” she says.
She began writing Smash It, Butterfingers! in early 2020 and planned for it to be released last year. However, the pandemic upset all plans and the book was released in August 2021.
In the meantime, two of her other books got released – The Crocodile Who Ate Butter Chicken For Breakfast and Other Stories (August 2020) and Baby and Dubdub (February 2021).
As with her previous Butterfingers novels, Smash It too has the students trying to make sense of an enigma, which is neatly blended into the theme of the story about a hospital and its practitioners. Khyrunnisa also tackles common superstitious beliefs. The school has to play an important match on Friday, the 13th!
“I feel that people are becoming more superstitious, perhaps because of the pandemic. But if one were to do a bit of reading, we will find that each of these beliefs came about because of a reason during a particular time and era. For instance, people were told not to walk under ladders because it might be dangerous for both the person on the ladder and for the one beneath it. However, over time, it became a superstition that people followed blindly,” she says.
Khyrunnisa hopes to encourage children to turn to reading to bust these irrational fears and find out the reasons for such beliefs.
“I am not particular that my books should have a message. I want my readers to enjoy themselves and read more. Reading will open their mind,” she says.
Smash it, Butterfingers! is published by Puffin Books.