Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chatting with Vaishali Shroff and Tapas Guha about 'The Missing Bat'

The World Cup has started and cricket is in the air. A perfect time to chat about our book which is funny tale from Kashmir. We caught up with Vaishali Shroff and Tapas Guha to talk about their book - 'The Missing Bat'. We asked them to send questions to each other and added a few of our own questions to the mix. Read on ....



What gave you the idea for this story?
Vaishali : Kashmir is such a place that it can make anyone a poet, a writer. So imagine if a poet, a writer visits Kashmir! I wrote a poetry or a story (non-fiction) every day of my stay there. Most of them can be read here
Kashmir gave me so much that I thought the only way I can give back something was a story. So I thought why not immortalize my trip with a book for children?
I was aware about the cricketing industry in Sangam. Though it was saddening to see the dwindling willow trees, it gave me a sense of pride; the game that has brought so much to this country has so much to do with Kashmir. So apart from reading about carpets and paper machè and Moghul gardens there was a thriving cricket industry not many have heard about.

How long did it take for the story to form in your mind and for you to write it?
Vaishali : I had been thinking about the story one night before going to bed but I didn't know how to end it. The next morning I started to write it on my phone as I cooked lunch. Before the food was ready, the story was saved in my memo. The end came like a flash of lightning. 

Did you see a kid like Ahmed in one of the factories? How did you think about the character of Rehman Chacha ?
Vaishali Rehman Chacha was born after we met the owner of a workshop we visited. He showed us all the possible qualities of bats they make including the one used by Tendulkar. He did not have a hunch back though :). Ahmed is a fictional character. A man who chiseled some bats there made me think of Aamir. He handed a bat to my son with a huge smile!

Did you have some visuals in mind when you wrote the book? And what was your reaction to seeing Tapas' illustrations for the final book?
Vaishali : Interestingly, I always visualize a story before I write it down. Like a movie playing in my head. Tapas's awesome work very much resonates with what I had in mind. I was curious as to how he would illustrate Rehman Chacha without disclosing his walking stick. Needless to say he has done so brilliantly!

Do you have any anecdotes to share regarding the book?
Vaishali : I can still hear my son laughing out loud after i read the book to him the first time. He told me he was proud of me and asked me what dentures mean. ☺
To sum it up, everyone who read it told me they had never heard about Sangam and that they found the book cute and funny!

Vaishali goes on to say "Though The Missing Bat came out after my first book, it was my first ever book contract. I had no prior experience in sending manuscripts to publishers. But I was lucky that Pratham liked my work enough to make me a PB Author. The Missing Bat will always be my first love!"

**********

What was your first thought when you read the story?
Tapas : I was very excited to read the story as I had just returned from Srinagar when I got the story in my hands.

How did you envision the characters?
Tapas : 
The characters came to my mind automatically as I read through the story. No sweat :)

The stacks of cricket bats, the willow trees, the ware house, characters, all look like they were straight out of Kashmir. Just like how I saw them! Did you do any research to create them?
Tapas : Yes, I did. I looked at photographs. Also I saw some workshops from outside and that helped.

Were there any challenges that you faced while illustrating? Tapas : Well, yes! My main challenge was the locations, as Kashmir is quite unique. I had to do some research. Also my memories of the place from my visit there were pretty fresh at that point of time.

Do you have a favourite spread from the book?
Tapas :
Yes - where the boy is looking at the pile of bats.

How long did it take you to illustrate the book?
Tapas :
I guess it took me about ten days to do the illustrations.

How would you describe your experience in illustrating The Missing Bat?
Tapas 
: It was great. This is the first book I've illustrated which had a Kashmiri backdrop.

What were your thoughts on seeing the book in its finished state?
Tapas :
Loved it :)
**********

We ended our chat by asking Tapas and Vaishali if they liked cricket at all? 
Though Tapas is a big football fan, he admitted that he does watch cricket sometimes. 
Pat came Vaishali's reply : "We luvvvvvvv cricket. So does my son!"

For all the cricket fans out there, get your copy of the book!

Book Review : My Two Great Grandmothers

Indian Moms Connect reviews our book 'My Two Great-Grandmothers' written and illustrated by Lisa Aisato N’jie Solberg.


My Two Great-Grandmothers by Lisa Aisato is a story about a little girl who has two very different great-grandmothers. One is from Gambia and one is from Norway. Both the great-grandmothers live in different parts of the world. While the girl has met up with her Norwegian great-grandmother occasionally, she has never met her Gambian great-grandmother.

To be really honest, I don’t think the book has anything like a concrete story, but there is a gentle flow of events and incidents in the book which make it very readable. Lovely incidents like the Norwegian great grandmother telling stories to the little girl about her young, interspaced with hummable songs, or the telephone conversation with of the Gambian great-grandmother with the little girl, give us a feeling of warmth.

What we liked about the book

1. Its a lovely way to introduce children to different cultures and countries of the world

2. Since the girl’s father is from Gambia and mother is from Norway, it gives the subtle message of positivity about inter racial marriages

3. The gentle pace of the book coupled with specific incidents make the book a reverting read

4. The illustrations are very eye catching and enhance the storyline in a positive manner

5. The introduction of the concept of death in the book. I think its very important for children to understand that no one lives forever,but introducing them to the concept of death is often a very difficult task. This book introduces the concept of moving on in a wonderful way and something I think will help children understand the concept of death.

All in all, definitely a wonderful book to read, and a totally new concept from Pratham Books. Much recommended.


Friday, February 27, 2015

"Here's One Rule, Now Go Crazy With It" - Kabini Amin on the #6FrameStoryChallenge

Kabini Amin's playful story has so many layers and stories within stories. Take a 'closer look' at this story just like the little kid in the story is.

Kabini tells us why she took up the #6FrameStoryChallenge: 
The challenge was a one of those perfect 'here's one rule, now go crazy with it!' type of briefs. The idea of weaving your own story with six words picked out of a mixed bag was just the right prompt needed to get excited and cook up fun stories. I'd asked someone else to pick out words for me, just so the selection would be really random. I love children's stories that are fun and absurd and the selection of completely unrelated words really pushed it in that direction. A quick timeline also meant that I dropped a lot of reservations and double checks which made the drawings more spontaneous and fun!
Kabini Amin's Illustrations for the #6FrameStoryChallenge by Pratham Books


(Kabini Amin is an illustrator, animator and artist based out of Bangalore. She graduated from the National Institute of Design with a graduate diploma in Animation Film Design. A compulsive scribbler, she loves to go on long walks, preferably in wilderness, travelling, exploring different cuisines and dances when she isn't drawing or napping. You can follow her work here : http://kabiniamin.weebly.com/)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

Language Under a Language Coffin

21st February was International Mother Language Day and our blog turned multilingual to celebrate. We hosted a series of blog posts by different authors, illustrators, parents, educators and children - sharing their thoughts on languages and more. You can read all the posts here. International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. 2015 is the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day.

This post was sent in by Subhashish Panigrahi and was published in the Odia newspaper Samaja on 21st February. Subhashish sent us the following excerpt :
Even though we have hundreds of languages in India, only 22 are recognized as scheduled languages in our constitution. People speaking in the non-scheduled languages deserve all the rights to express their opinion in their native languages and stopping them would be against the freedom of expression. In most cases, the dominant class of a society represses the rest and the languages of minorities fall victim to the political and societal inequality. By UNESCO's survey, 197 Indian languages (which are part of 2471 world endangered languages) are in the verge of extinction. For migration from their original places in search of job, speaking others' languages and living in a hetero-cultural society often make aboriginals forget about their own language and cultural heritage. In this column, I have discussed about many such challenges for aboriginals to retain their native languages and some of the possibilities for external interventions to document and preserve the dying languages.
Subhashish Panigrahi's article by Pratham Books




(Subhashish Panigrahi is an blogger, columnist, educator and free software activist from Odisha and based in Bangalore, India. Panigrahi is currently working at the Centre for Internet and Society's Access To Knowledge program where he builds partnership with universities, language research and GLAM organizations for bringing more scholarly and encyclopedic content under free licenses, designs programs and supports for Indic language Wikipedia and Wikimedia communities. During his work at the Wikimedia Foundation's India Program he was involved in designing community sustaining and new contributor cultivation models. He is the India ambassador of OpenGLAM Local and an OpenGLAM Working Group member, Editor for Global Voices Odia, an member of Mozilla L10N Odia.

You can follow Subhashish's work here :

A New Ray - Sonal Gupta's Kaleidoscopic Take for the #6FrameStoryChallenge

We included 'Manta Ray' in our Word Wishlist for the #6FrameStoryChallenge mostly because it's such a fascinating creature to look at and we were eager to see it enter our books. But Sonal Gupta's 6-frame story – titled 'A New Ray' - has inspired us to find out more about this lovely creature. And so here's a bit of interesting trivia we found on Wikipedia: “The name "manta" is Portuguese and Spanish for mantle (cloak or blanket), a type of blanket-shaped trap traditionally used to catch rays.”

Sonal's colour composition is exquisite – the touch of blue in the otherwise earthy valley (frame 1), the flash of lightning in the vast blue sky (frame 3), the kaleidoscopic manta ray (frame 6). Here's why she decided to take on the challenge of weaving a visual story around 6 words:

“I love illustrating, and I'm always finding reasons to do so. The #6FrameChallenge gave me a reason to not only illustrate but to write as well. It is such an innovative way to build stories and go crazy with your imagination. My experience with the challenge has been quite adventurous. With super busy office hours, it was really difficult to get down and work. The words were always in my mind juggling and getting attracted to each other to make some sense. I have been on a crazy/curious/giggle brain storming sessions because of this. I look forward to more of such crazy rides.”
Sonal Gupta's Illustrations for the #6FrameStoryChallenge by Pratham Books

(Sonal Gupta is an Animation Designer from MIT Institute of Design. She loves experimenting with bright colours, visuals and illustrating books for children. She has worked on several nursery rhyme books, illustrated two books for Karadi tales and is currently working on an illustrated book for Pratham Books. Currently, she is working on developing educational products for children. She also conducts storytelling sessions for kids. Having grown up listening to stories by her mom, she looks forward to sharing her imagination and experience with kids through stories. You can see her work here: http://sonal7gupta.blogspot.com/)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

A Story With Happiness Written All Over It - Lavanya Karthik's Entry for the #6FrameStoryChallenge

We're glad that Lavanya Karthik had such a blast while weaving a visual story around the 6 words that she picked: flying woman, mango, dance, river, parachute, starry night sky. In fact, her joy has slipped into her 6-frame story and has been splashing around noisily. Doesn't her visual story have happiness written all over it? Fruits orbiting around each other and musical aliens – life beyond Earth seems far more appealing!

Curious about why Lavanya decided to participate in the #6FrameStoryChallenge and her experience of it? Here's what she said: 
“I heard of the challenge through a friend, and just loved the idea! Pratham Books does some fantastic work and this challenge was a great opportunity for me to contribute to their work in spreading literacy and the love of reading. I support the idea of open-source publishing too, and think this is a great way to get people sharing ideas and their creativity. I had a blast illustrating my story, and would have loved to illustrate every word in the matrix if I'd had the time! In fact, I started with six very different words and a very different story, and was well on my way to drawing it up.. when the image of the flying woman just popped into my head and refused to leave. Then the kid followed, and the idea of the sky as a sort of giant chalkboard.... and before I knew it, I was drawing a completely different story!"



(Lavanya Karthik lives in Mumbai where she writes, draws, runs and eats way too much chocolate. She cannot think of a better job than the one she has right now - writing and illustrating books for children. She also writes weird tales about three-headed women and clockwork tigers, draws comics for magazines like Youth Inc. and the Rundown,and chronicles her real and imaginary life graphically in Maya Bizarre. You can see her work here: https://lavanyakarthik.wordpress.com/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maya-Bizarre/241958599150578)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:
Krishna Prakash K

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

Using Mobiles to Fight Illiteracy


There are 774 million people on the planet that cannot read or write. Despite all of the work done and money spent, the number of illiterate people in Sub Saharan Africa has actually increased by 37% since 1990. But now we have a new and powerful tool - the internet-connected mobile phone - that has the power to make illiteracy a thing of the past. In this talk, mobile learning evangelist Elizabeth Hensick Wood will show you how the same technology we use obsessively every day can be used to deliver books and education to the world's poorest places.


Additional reading : 
Pratham Books is Part of Worldreader's “E-Books For All” Clinton Global Initiative Commitment

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Medium to Showcase My Own Style of Comic Book Art Apart From Having a Lot of Fun!" - Satya Krishna Prakash K on the #6FrameStoryChallenge

The adventures of Mathai and Tyro have a quirky and fun touch to them! We love how Satya Prakash has captured several nuances of expression in just 6 frames!


Satya Krishna Prakash K. says,
"I signed up for the #6FrameStoryChallenge, because I saw this as a medium to showcase my own style of comic book art as well as because its clearly a lot of fun.My experience in participating for the #6FrameStoryChallenge has been great. I have decided to continue creating such stories as practise going forward."

(Satya Krishna Prakash K is an animator and illustrator working currently as a graphic designer. He also says "I am a voracious reader, both comics and otherwise, with my favourite comics being Asterix & Obelix, Tintin and The Bloom County series."  His work can be viewed here:
https://www.behance.net/satyakhttps://www.facebook.com/FForFroghttp://www.abledoodle.blogspot.in/



Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

The Adventurous Bear - Amar Soni's Story for the #6FrameStoryChallenge

Amar Soni chose one of the readymade narratives for his story. In the story, not only is the bear an adventurous kind, he also has a dream about visiting Pluto. Does his wish come true? Find out in the story below.
"I signed up for the #6FrameStoryChallenge to expose myself in the field of visual education. Pratham Books is a national organization and it provides the opportunity and gives the platform to artists on a national and international level. From the beginning I opened myself to learn and understand the pedagogy and how can I play my role for the "learning through Art". Pratham Books is doing an admirable job for the education of children."


(Amar Soni tells us more about himself and his work : "My qualification (MA Drawing and Painting), family environment and experience in the field of art illuminate me to work to create a bridge between children and young people through the medium of art, widening their horizons and helping them understand the world they live in through art. Conceptualizing, designing and illustrating are my areas of interest. Translating the textual dimension of the project into a visual one through diverse media such as drawing and painting, illustration and graphic design is my strength. I approach all projects with a combination of cultural understanding, imaginative thinking, research, improvisation and questioning. My educational background comprises of higher studies in design and art. My experience in the field includes teaching, graphic design and research. I have participated in many national and international workshops and exhibitions of painting". You can follow his work here : http://artistamarsoni.blogspot.in)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

An Unexpected Solution : Muhammed Shafi's Story for the #6FrameStoryChallenge

The word 'jugaad' came to our mind when we saw the story sent in by Muhammed Shafi.  With minimal use of colours, a clean template and a 'flowing' narrative, find out how Muhammed's character battles the cyclonic winds he gets caught in. 


On why he participated in this challenge, he says :
"I love doing illustrations for kids !! That is what excited me about this project the most, i have previously done some illustrations on walls for a small play school in my hometown. This project was very challenging but at the same time a lot of fun! Hope my work can bring a smile on some kids faces :)"
Muhammed Shafi's Illustrations for the #6FrameStoryChallenge by Pratham Books


( When asked about himself, Muhammed said : "Fed on the creative juices from God's own country, I have an enormous passion for art. Whenever I get some time to spare, I fill these wide canvases . And at work (I work for a Bangalore based ad agency called nicheminds), I love to play with pixels on the Mac. I am an avid footballer and movie buff.)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Swish Swish... A Broom Comes to the Rescue in Nishith Mehta's Story for the #6FrameStoryChallenge

With all the attention that the broom has received lately, we couldn't help but notice how Nishith's 6-frame story has come in at just the right time. His visual narrative is impressively strong and clear, with a plot that needs no text and clever framing of illustrations (especially frames 2 and 3). We enjoyed seeing the man's expressions change through the narrative – from being oh-so-cheerful to a mixture of terror and relief. The ending was brilliant – with all three characters being brought into the same frame in a rather dramatic manner.


Like most other illustrators who participated in Pratham Books' #6FrameStoryChallenge, Nishith was also keen to test his own skills. He says, 
“I participated in the #6FrameStoryChallenge because it was a very interesting approach to creating a story. It was a challenge to depict the story without words. The experience of it was fantastic. I am proud to be part of it and look forward to more such events organised to bring together artists from all walks of life. It is also a great way to bring people together with a view to collaborate and create something that is not only unique in its creativity but also contributes in its own way to society.”


(Nishith Mehta is a painter, illustrator and writer based in Mumbai. He graduated in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in 2010. You can see his work here: www.behance.net/nishith87, www.nishithmehta.wordpress.com)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:
Rajiv Eipe
Kalyani Ganapathy
Prashant Miranda
Kavita Singh Kale
Megha Vishwanath
Priya Nair Panicker
Sweta Roy Choudhury
Paneendra Suresh
Priya Kuriyan
Yulianto Qin
Manjari Chakravathi
Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja
Samidha Gunjal
Preeti Lata
Shwetha Elisha
Mithila Ananth
Sunandita Mehrotra
Vedavathi Narasimha Murthy
Jithin Jacob
Vidya Gopal
Archana Sreenivasan
Somesh Kumar
Gumani
Antara Mukherji
Anjora Noronha
Vinayak Varma
Soumya Menon
Jisha Unnikrishnan
Kruttika Susarla
Ninoshka Dias
Isha S Valentine
Neelima Raparla
Vallabhi Shegaonkar
Sangeeta Das
Hari Kumar Nair
Lakhsmi Mitter
Lily Banerjee
Aditi Dilip
Niloufer Wadia
Deepa Jayaraman

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

“My Sweet Story Turned A Wee Bit Wicked As I Started To Draw!” - Anupama Apte on the #6FrameStoryChallenge

Anupama says her only 'arty' ambition in life is to be able to skillfully use light and shadows in watercolour, and we think she has succeeded in doing just that! We love the adorable little protagonist in her story. Her expressions made us giggle and we’re sure they will send little kiddies into raptures of joy!


About the #6FrameStoryChallenge, Anupama says,
 “It was a very innovative idea and I was super excited to create something logical out of just 6 words... and I love deadlines. The best part was to select 6 words from the grid and cook up a story. I tried many combinations before finally settling for a rather sweet story about collecting stars and all. It was only a day before the deadline that I realized that it was about time I pick up a pencil.”
Anupama Apte's Illustrations for the #6FrameStoryChallenge by Pratham Books


(After having worked in the software industry for close to 15 years, Anupama says she is now glad to pursue her passion for the arts. She says she loves drawing silly and cute characters all the time. She has written and illustrated ' Gulli's box of things' with Pratham Books in the past. You can view her work here: http://studioeaselbytes.blogspot.in)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:
Rajiv Eipe
Kalyani Ganapathy
Prashant Miranda
Kavita Singh Kale
Megha Vishwanath
Priya Nair Panicker
Sweta Roy Choudhury
Paneendra Suresh
Priya Kuriyan
Yulianto Qin
Manjari Chakravathi
Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja
Samidha Gunjal
Preeti Lata
Shwetha Elisha
Mithila Ananth
Sunandita Mehrotra
Vedavathi Narasimha Murthy
Jithin Jacob
Vidya Gopal
Archana Sreenivasan
Somesh Kumar
Gumani
Antara Mukherji
Anjora Noronha
Vinayak Varma
Soumya Menon
Jisha Unnikrishnan
Kruttika Susarla
Ninoshka Dias
Isha S Valentine
Neelima Raparla
Vallabhi Shegaonkar
Sangeeta Das
Hari Kumar Nair
Lakhsmi Mitter
Lily Banerjee
Aditi Dilip
Niloufer Wadia
Deepa Jayaraman

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.

Deepa Jayaraman's Sparsely Coloured Yet Densely Populated Narrative For The #6FrameStoryChallenge

Deepa Jayaraman's art is very strongly rooted in children's books that she grew up with. As a child, she remembers focussing more on the visual aspects of a book than the text itself. Some of her favourites are stories from Panchatantra, Russian folktales, Grimms' Fairy Tales, and so on. We were charmed by the sparse use of colour, grainy texture and flowers greeting us from every illustration in Deepa's unique 6-frame story.


Here's why Deepa was drawn to the #6FrameStoryChallenge: 
“My initial attraction to art itself was through children’s book illustrations and my work being illustrative, the #6FrameStoryChallenge was the best platform to participate and contribute to. As an artist, making illustrations is the most mind-churning activity as we also have an audience to convince with the visuals in a direct way. The 6-frame Story Challenge was one such challenge for me as it was a test to explore my own capability to create imagery that is creative and also convincing, using words selected to web a story around it.”
Deepa Jayaraman's Illustrations for the #6FrameStoryChallenge by Pratham Books


(Deepa Jayaraman is a trained artist based in Delhi. She has a Masters of Fine Arts from College of Art, Delhi.)

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:

If you missed the #6FrameStoryChallenge, but are inspired by the work of fellow illustrators and want to contribute to the open source story platform - do send us your stories! Story guidelines are available here.