Colourful and vivid tales of imagination for kids
By Marisa de Silva
You'd never guess that Janaki Sooriarachchi, a soft-spoken and talented young woman, is an author, publisher and illustrator. She has her own publishing company (Tikiri Publishers) that publishes children’s storybooks. Having written over 150 stories in both English and Sinhala, she has published 90 up to date. She is also a senior marketing officer and official designer at Sampath Bank.

Janaki received the Bronze Award for "Professional Woman of the Year 2000", for professional excellence in many fields at a young age, given by the Woman's Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka. And if that's not proof enough of her prowess, she's taking both her Visharada examination in bharatha natyam and the Hindustani music examination Bathkande Sangeeth Vidyapith in Lucknow, India, later this year. Other than for writing, she has a special passion for music and dance too, she says.

As a child she recalls how she was mostly a loner, and had to find ways and means to entertain and occupy herself. She loved to observe nature, which she found fascinating. Gazing at various creatures, like caterpillars for hours on end, watching their behaviour patterns and imagining the conversations they must be having with each other, turned out to be the inspiration for many of her books.

She wrote her first book "Api Denna" (The two of us), at the age of eight, about a trip she and her doll took to Fairy-Land, only to find out the next day that it was all a dream.

However, her first published work was "Rangige Chithraya" (Rangi's Drawing) when she was 14, yet another personal experience of how she was sitting on a table, drawing a perahera on the wall and inching her way little by little to the end of it.
So engrossed in her drawing was she that she eventually fell off the table edge only to get a good scolding from her mother.

Janaki emphasises how she doesn't want her books to sound preachy although her stories often do carry a message. She prefers the message to be subtle, allowing her readers to understand and interpret it themselves rather than harping on the obvious. She has various themes that she writes on, ranging from health to hygiene as well as fables, educational topics and even fantasy stories.

Her use of vivid imagination and colourful images and backgrounds make her books special. It seems quite evident that a lot of work goes into her writing and illustrations. She adds smilingly "I still write like I used to when I was a kid, with the mindset of a child, because after all I am writing for them."

"It took quite a while for it to sink in that I was really a writer but, now I'm getting used to it and enjoying it," she says. She does most of her writing at night, as she has a full-time job. She draws inspiration from just about anything and everything and mostly uses animals as her main characters, she adds.

For additional information on her work, readers could either visit her website or e-mail her at

Gusty and energetic performance
I know it is unusual to review performances seen at corporate launches. But, when the entertainment provided at a launch surpasses anything I have paid good money to see during my time here in Sri Lanka, then I think it deserves a public commendation.

The NTB American Express launch held recently at the Colombo Hilton was a Broadway extravaganza of the highest standard, in many ways parallel to what I have seen on Broadway and West-End. The Workshop Players provided a bulk of the evening's entertainment, aided by - what I understood were a few guest singers on 'New York, New York' and 'Cabaret', and dancers on a gusty sequence from 'Chicago'.

The singing, dancing and acting of these young performers was excellent, but what struck me most was the energy, presence and style they infused into everything they did. I particularly enjoyed the sequence from 'Cats', the glamorous ensemble performance from 'Phantom of the Opera' and of course, the dancing and acting of 'Copacabana', particularly of the woman playing 'Lola'. Of the solo performances, the young woman who sang from 'Phantom of the Opera' had a hauntingly beautiful voice and reached for those high notes with ease. She has a bright future ahead of her.

The other young woman who sang 'Don't cry for me Argentina', aside from being stunningly beautiful to look at and listen to, was so convincing in her portrayal of Evita that she moved me to tears. All in all, this entire ensemble moved from one musical to another, from 'Les Miserables', 'Lion King' to 'Phantom of the Opera', switching not just costumes, but styles of singing and movement and characters.

Congratulations to the directors behind this group, to the organizers behind their reason for being there that night, and of course to the youthful performers. -Andrew W.

Journey through time in song
October 3, and 4 at 7.30 p.m.and October 5 at 11 a.m.
It was only last month that the Merry An Singers presented a well-attended concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lionel Wendt theatre. The upcoming concert by this versatile group will have a totally different repertoire covering famous Operas to a tapestry of rhythms evidenced by Gospel music.

In planning this programme director Mary Anne David felt that audiences in Colombo have grown out of the parochial mind-set which limits listening to either classical or contemporary music. So Verdi's 'Libiamo' or Habanera from 'Carmen' in the first half of the programme would provide an interesting contrast to "Clap, shout & praise' or the spiritual 'Let us break bread’.

The focus as always will be on accurate harmonies tempered with dynamics. However producer Andrew David believes that a vocal concert is enhanced by some visual effect. Instrumental accompaniment will be by Neranjan de Silva, Kamalini Samarakoon and Christopher Prins.

Choral Festival of St. Michael
September 29, is the Festival of St Michael and All Angels and churches all over the world dedicated to St Michael celebrate their patronal festival at this time.

The Church at Polwatte, Colombo 3 dedicated to St Michael and all Angels keeps the 116th Anniversary of its dedication and the 81st anniversary of the installation of the pipe organ presented by Sir Thomas Villiers in memory of his son who died in World War I.

To celebrate Michaelmas, the Church of St. Michael and All Angels Polwatte, Colombo 3 will have a Choral Festival next Sunday, October 5 at 6 p.m. Anthems by Thomas Attwood, Mendelssohn and Ralph Vaughan-Williams, among others will be sung by the Choir interspersed with readings and congregational hymns to celebrate the occasion.

The rousing Chorus from Haydn's Creation, "Achieved is the glorious work" will be the highlight of the choral music. The Festival will be preceded by a short organ recital by Denham Pereira.

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