Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review - "Ganga"

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own

This 'from the heart, honest review' comes from Pravir Bagrodia.

This book is like a breath of fresh air - with breath-taking photographs and crisp captions The verse flows elegantly, capturing the river's various moods.

The journey of India's most famous river - the lifeline of millions - from Gomukh to Gangasagar, has been captured in photographs, complemented by elegant prose and poetry. The information about different rivers that merge with the Ganga, from Alaknanda in Devprayag to Yamuna in Allahabad, has been portrayed well.

The map in the end has been done well. The end-notes (detailed captions) are comprehensive. However, the aspect of pollution could have been given a bit more coverage, as it gets only a passing mention on Page 11. Somewhere, Kashi's modern name Varanasi could have been mentioned. On Page 14, the location of the rock - between Kashi and Sonepur - is missing; so is any mention of Hooghly in Kolkata.

Would it have been more correct to mention that Ganga merges with Bay of Bengal, instead of Indian Ocean.

A minor suggestion on punctuation: On Page 15, a semi-colon (world;) may be more appropriate instead of colon (world:).

An impressive design element is the zig-zag alignment of the couplet on every page. A minor pre-press error can be noticed on Page 8: there is an em-dash without space (-finally-) while Page 10 and Page 14 follow a different style (with space). The choice of typefact (font) for captions could have been better.

The impeccable quality of printing deserves admiration. At Rs 25 apiece, it is a steal, a must-have for book-shelves. This is one publication to hold for a lifetime.

Click here to buy this book.

Grandfather Cherry Blossom Goes to Japan

Keiko Tsuji, the wonderful illustrator who did the watercolours for Grandfather Cherry Blossom and Other Folktales from Japan sent us these pictures from an exhibition in Japan that featured this book. You can see more of Keiko's work over at her blog.

She was very happy that many people came by to see her work and wrote:

"I've just finished my exhibition. Many people came at the Gallery and admired the books !!  And I was very happy to have some Indian friends!!"

There was also a small write-up on this though we aren't quite sure what it says. Any Japanese speakers here who can help translate this for us please?

And thanks to The blogger fka 塩 @shioyama, we are told that the first paragraph translates to approximately:
"Japanese Folk Tales meet India: Exhibition of picture books in Kobe": Miki city resident and oil painter Tsuji Keiko is holding a solo exhibition of her works at Kitano Zaka Gallery, Yamamoto Dori 1, Chuo Ward, Kobe. The exhibition features illustrations drawn for a collection called "Japanese Folk-Tales", of Japanese folk stories directed at children in India, and opens a window onto a distinctive world of exotic, nostalgia-evoking works.

You too can buy this book from here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pratham Books in Pune

This month A.S.M.’s Abhinava Vidyalaya English Medium Primary School Pune, presented books to all the children of Std 1and the children were very happy and enjoyed reading our various titles, writes Sandhya, our Pune based editor.

This is what their teacher Madhavi Deshpande says:

 It has been established beyond a shadow of doubt that the habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy.
We at Abhinava Vidyalaya English Medium Primary School, Pune help our students not only to form the habit of reading , but to make reading one of their deep and continuing needs. Every year on the 8th September we observe our Founder’s Day. This day we give away prizes and awards for the previous academic year. We also present all the 240 students of Std I with a book. This is to appreciate their ability to transit from a non formal school set up to a formal school set up , with ease. We believe that books are the greatest gifts, to give them a passion for reading.
Our children of Std I were simply in awe of the books. They appreciated the texture of the paper and the illustrations, the most. The bold print enabled our students to read with ease. Some of the titles e.g. ‘The Onion’s Shawl’, ‘The Royal Toothache’ amused the students very much. 
To sum up, the titles do not simply teach children to read. They stretch the imagination as in case of ‘Too Many Bananas’ Teach values as in case of ‘The Flyaway Cradle’ Encourage students to reach towards people who are different from them. e.g. information about the author as given at the end of every book.
Coax students to think and create as in the story ‘Rain Rain’ The experience of buying books from Pratham Books was very enriching. 

Book Review - "See you tomorrow"

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own kids.

This detailed book review comes from Malavika.

See you tomorrow”

Set against the delightful lush green backdrop of village, is the story of a small boy and his journey from school to home. “See you tomorrow” highlights the boy’s encounters with his daily friends, all of who happen to be bright and cheerful looking animals, ranging from a tiny frog to a big sized elephant. Things go slightly wrong when he says something he hadn’t seriously meant.

Beautiful water color pictures, coupled with perfect expressions make the book a visual treat. Though the book has very little dialogues and just “see you tomorrow” punch line repeating itself in the encounters throughout the journey, the story manages to convey the message in a clear and crisp manner.

Though a village boy, the child looking somewhere between 7-10 years old, is a happy child, who wishes to see happiness in everything around him. It is due to this that he is friendly to even animals that come into his way on his journey to school and back. The boy loved animals and even if he had not meant what he said, he still reworked on his mistake. It is for this reason, the boy happily treats his friends in the end to a hearty sumptuous breakfast, though it was something unplanned and he had not seriously meant to see them the next day. Like him his mother is equally delighted at the prospect of feeding her guests and she too beckons them happily.

The locales of the village spark the purity of the village ambience. Throughout the journey, the boy is often depicted against backdrops featuring ponds, huts, temple, a wood paneled bridge, vast grasslands and many more breathtaking village landscapes.

The animals looked healthy and happy. However, it had been for the boy’s casual comment that they decided to take him seriously at it. It was owing to this that they turned up at his house for a breakfast. However, though the boy loved these animals he had never meant to see them getting all turned up for the next day’s breakfast. Once the breakfast was over, the boy realized his mistake and the animals did make it sure that he better be serious with his words. That’s why the boy at end did no more mention “see you tomorrow”. He left it as “sometime”, realizing the possible effect of the spoken words.

The writer and the illustrator of this book have done a great job to voice concern over casual remarks, thrown sometimes without much seriousness by children. Thinking twice before speaking is a good lesson that comes across in this book, which is important for all the parent’s to teach their children. If one cannot commit to what one says then one should not utter words for the sake of it. This book is a must read for all the parents and their children, who seek visual treat with less number of words to make the right impact. I recommend this book to all children who need to be taught the seriousness of the spoken words. Maybe it will also allow parents to do and display the same.

Click here to buy this book

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Young India Books

A new site called Young India Books has just launched.

Young India Books reviews Indian books for children from birth to sixteen years.
Our Mission
* To promote quality literature about India for children.
* To assist various stakeholders - parents, teachers, librarians and book-sellers select appropriate books for children.
* To form partnerships with key stakeholders in order to enrich the quality of children’s literature about India.
Our Offerings
* Reviews, comments and rating of all books.
* Profiles of authors and illustrators. Know who they are and what motivates them to write or illustrate for children.
* Books are Fun has suggestions for educators - teachers, librarians and parents. In this section educators share tips on how to use books creatively to teach.
* Search Books section helps educators to select books for the home and the library keeping in mind the curriculum, the age and interests of the kids.
* Authors section has tips on enhancing writing Skills. Experts will share their insight to enhance writing skills.

Pratham Books and Joy of Giving

Update: Chandni, @fundacause , writes in to point us to this post by Udaan:

To counter the reading disability of children between classes 2 and 7 in government schools, Udaan has set up community libraries within the Hiranandani Gardens complex.The libraries follow the Grow By Reading program and attempt to bring relevant and meaningful literature within reach of children who cannot afford to buy books. The libraries have over 2000 books in English and Hindi, chosen with great care, ensuring that the language is simple, letters are large and easy to read and well illustrated. A book mobilization drive will be conducted in association with Crossword,Powai branch to add more titles to the collection.We are especially looking to add titles from the Read India and Ladybird series to enhance Hindi and English language development.In addition,weeklong storytelling sessions will be conducted by staff and volunteers.
Pratham Books and Crossword at Powai have partnered to participate in the Joy of Giving Week and are helping Udaan with a book promotion.

Customers can buy and donate single titles or choose from the many ready made packs of 5 or 6 books. Some pictures from the store below. If you are in Powai, you might be interested in helping out.

Dickens: Copyright and the Land of the Freeloaders

Via The Literary Platform
Many millenniums ago the writer of Ecclesiastes drily observed: “Of making many books there is no end.” and that’s how it’s been ever since. And yet it would be naïve to think that earlier writers had motives any whit purer than later writers. In addition to intellectual curiosity and a desire to please their fellows there was always a lust for money, fame and power and the puissant pen was able to secure all these and even occasionally to trample a kingdom down. In this respect nothing changes.

The story of Charles Dickens and the Americans is somewhat heuristic. I shall tell it my way. It is more truthfully told by Matthew Pearl but please accept this as a mere parable.

After his early years in poverty Charles Dickens was one of those Victorian writers who was making good money out of his works. The nineteenth century revolution in printing methods meant that his books were selling like hot cakes throughout the kingdom and he naturally liked to see all those pennies rolling in. Frustratingly, however, there was that other English reading population across the Atlantic. The Americans were enjoying Dickens too. His books were being widely published and printed and read and Charles was not receiving a penny. He was suffering from the most blatant appropriation of his work. This of course was because there was at that time no international copyright agreement in force and the libertarian, tax hating Americans saw no reason to pay English publishers and authors for words on pages that could just as easily be printed in America. All that was required was a little free enterprise or, as we might say nowadays, shameless piracy.

The Land of the Free began to look to him like the land of the freeloaders. He cried foul and campaigned for international regulation. But at some point over the years he began to take the point that the dissemination of his work in America was doing him no harm at all in terms of reputation and, critically, that cheap books in America were increasing his potential earning power as a popular visiting reader. When, in the 1860s, he did tour America to give readings from his books he received so warm a welcome and so much faster money than he had ever earned as a writer that he returned home thinking much more positively about America and the Americans.

This story reminds us about the essential freedom of creative writing. Once a work escapes into the world it leads a life of its own. It may die but it may flourish, increase and multiply, pop up in strange places, it may mutate. Writings turn into lecture tours, verses turn into songs; novels are adapted for the stage, epics become movies; oneliners become idioms; work is plagiarised, parodied, translated, quoted, improved upon… The list is long and we live in an age when it seems to lengthen daily. What has once been created can be created again and again to the end of time by the energetic input of intelligent readers.

Read the entire article here.

Review of "Cheenu's Gift" and "At the seaside"

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own kids.

The book reviews come from Anuradha who is a teacher and enjoys reading our books to her students!

Review of Cheenu’s Gift:

Cheenu’s Gift written by Sridhar Swami and illustrated by Sanjay Sarkar is a delightful pick from the extensive collection of Pratham Books Publications. It is bound to be an instant favourite with children with its easily identifiable theme.

The story etches out a day in the life of a little boy ,Cheenu, whose father is a newspaper collector.In the course of the story the author succeeds in clothing the newspaper seller in a mystique drawing attention to the awe with which Cheenu regards his fatehr’s profession. After all he is the only one in his school whose father ‘came to pick him up’ from school. Those words endear Cheenu to us instantly.

Accompanying the story are vivid illustrations that bring to life a day in an average Indian household. The helpful sub-text for vernacular words used in between manages to bridge the gap for readers of diverse languages. This book is certainly a must buy for children.

Cilck here to buy Cheenu's Gift.


Review of At the Seaside:

Nowhere in the world is a child’s imagination let loose than at the beach.Besides the waves, by the sand dunes,picking shells,all of us are bound to have countless nostalgic moments in the scrapbook of our life.All those moments can be relived in Swarna Dutta’s delightful story,At the Seaside, lovingly illustrated by Amitava Sengupta.An offering by Pratham Books Publications, this book makes for an easy read with its even font and ready pace.A day at the beach with the family exploring the beauty of the seashore ,the siblings overcome their apprehensions of sea creatures and their worries of being swept away by the sea.The father lovingly instructs them as does the mother about the sea and in the process help the children come closer to nature .The children come to the beach agog with excitement and come away from their day there with stories to tell of the different people they met –the fishermen ,the man working on sand to create a work of art…In short their day is truly memorable.At the end of the day ,this book succeeds in keeping us absorbed with its striking visuals and smooth story line .Most certainly a book to have in your library .

Click here to buy "At the Seaside"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Opening Lines: How Famous Creators Got Their Start

Via Brain Pickings

Opening Lines is a wonderful project exploring how famous writers, artists, musicians, innovators, philosophers and politicians got their start, pushing past bumpy beginnings towards epic triumphs.

The Opening Lines editors scour libraries, archives and the web, even conducting original interviews, to unearth how cultural icons went about pursuing their passions in those early days when setbacks were prolific, rejection unabashed and affirmation scarce. From legendary physicist Stephen Hawking to Mashable’s Pete Cashmore to guitar legend Jimmy Page, the project covers an impressively rich and cross-disciplinary spectrum of mavericks and masterminds, go-getters and geniuses.
Via Opening Lines
Even geniuses had to start somewhere. We’ve researched the lives of many accomplished writers and artists, musicians and innovators, philosophers and politicians, to bring you the stories of how they got interested in their craft and the first attempts they made at pursuing it. Some may debate the veracity of one or another of these tales, but more than anything else, we simply hope to shed a little light on that moment when people decide to follow their passions and try to create something for the very first time. In most cases, these figures were struggling artists long before they were exceptional ones. So perhaps readers will find some inspiration in these stories to pursue their own passions.
From '
Did Robert Frost Choose the Wrong Road?'

Robert Frost should have been a failed writer. He never graduated college, and spent the first half of his life writing in total obscurity.

By the time Frost was closing in on his 40th birthday, he’d been unable to publish any books (not counting a privately printed volume of six poems that he’d given to his fiancee years earlier), and had only been fortunate enough to see a select few of his poems appear in print at all. While writers often improve in later years as they accrue more life experience and hone their talents, it’s obviously still quite daunting to fail at achieving any recognition after years of pursuing the craft.

So what makes a writer continue to toil away in the face of persistent neglect?

In Frost’s case, the answer may be twofold. He’d always wanted to be a poet, and he’d experienced some mild success early on that might have made him feel entitled to this passion.

Poetry was the thread that tied his life together. He graduated high school as class poet (an honor you wouldn’t likely see highlighted in year books today.) Two years later (after a brief stint at Dartmouth), Frost sold his first poem to a small magazine called the New York Independent for the grand sum of $15. Published and paid, what could be better?

Still, on the whole, the poem was a success, one which Frost intended to surpass. “Rather than equal what I have written and be satisfied, I will idle away an age accumulating a greater inspiration,” Frost wrote in a letter to the publisher of this poem. And it did take nearly half a lifetime to do so.

For two more decades, this poem was pretty much all the world heard from Robert Frost, though he kept himself busy. Frost moved around, first to Virginia then Massachusetts, where he attended Harvard briefly, then to a family farm in New Hampshire, where he worked for several years as a poultry farmer. Along the way, he got married and continued to write, and even teach high school English. At last, he became fed up with his lack of success in America and moved abroad to England, where he finally managed to kick start his career and make up for lost time.

Read more here. Visit Opening Lines.

Unleashed Imagination

Eeeeeeee....such a beautiful illustration! Do click on the image to see the details. Have a creative week everyone!
Image Source : enkel dika

Reimagining Classic Comic Book Covers

'Covered' is Robert Goodin's blog which invites artists to re-interpret comic covers.

The intention of Covered is to feature a wide variety of artists redoing comic covers in their own style. Artists can come from any field: cartoonists / comic artists (both from the mainstream and the independent fringes), illustrators, animators, graphic designers, photographers, sculptors, etc. and be both well known or up and coming.

Any comic cover is acceptable to redraw for the Covered blog. It can be any genre from any country. Anything from a 60’s underground to a Chick tract; from Japanese manga, to French/Belgian bande dessinée to an American superhero comic. You are the one who decides and it is that decision that is part of the fun for the viewer. To help with the gray areas, a photo cover for a comic would be acceptable, as would a book collection of newspaper strips.

Visit the blog

Image Source

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Review - Samira's Awful Lunch

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own kids.

This heartfelt book review comes all the way from Simla by Arif Samma who received our book, "Samira's Awful Lunch".....

Samira’s Awful Lunch written by Bharati Jagannathan and Preeti Krishnamurthy made an enjoyable and educative reading for me, my wife and most importantly for our 7 year daughter who is literally playing Samira’s role, to our utter helplessness and frustration. I think this problem of getting our kids understand the value and need of having nutritious food is faced by many of parents like us. This becomes all the more problematic in nuclear family as in joint family system elderly members used to be of great help in feeding the little ones.

I could see the mischievous smile on my daughter’s face when I read the story to her. Kids love watching insects, birds, animals and using them as ‘teachers’ for Samira is a commendable way of communicating the children of the importance of eating right and regularly. Many recent reports by Unicef and WHO point out the dangerous levels of deficiency of vital minerals in kids in India, hence books like this can really play positive role in educating the parents as well as kids about the need of having a healthy attitude to our eating habits.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Daydreaming on a Friday

The weekend is almost here..and aren't these gorgeous places to escape to?

Image Source : alcott1

Book Reviews : 'Chhuk-Chhuk-Chhak' and 'Cheenu's Gift'

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own kids.

This book review comes from Seetharam Bhat who received our books 'Chhuk-Chhuk-Chhak' and 'Cheenu's Gift'

Book: Chhuk-Chhuk-Chhak (Hindi)

Review: Nice simple story, with good illustrations and excellent printing, in my daughters view she liked the book because of the idea to use the floor once the slate was filled with the drawing of the train engine, out of the box thinking ( in this case out of the slate thinking...:)). It was a simple story but the idea to use the floor along with the slate helps children to really think of innovative ways towards problem solving. I believe all of us are born with this intuition but lose it along the way with the rigid education structure, stories like this will help children trigger that in them.

Book: Cheenus Gift (English)

Review: The story lucidly brings out the value system of our families, ideas such as love, helping and family bonding are very well illustrated and built into the story line. When Cheenu's father picks him up from school the big smile on his face is reflective of his love and admiration for his father, when he accompanies him on the Kabadi rounds of the houses-it shows that work is worship, when he helps his father in the collection of old items- it shows that there is dignity in labour, when he helps his father push the heavy cart- it shows concern, helping nature and compassion, when they finally sit down for dinner- shows the value of family bonding, and when he uses the old books to read and learn- shows that knowledge/learning can be had from whichever source and finally it brings out the concept that Reuse, Recycle and Reduce should be the guiding mantra of our lives.
A very thought provoking book indeed.

On Illustrations and Monsters

This week's edition of Time Out Bangalore has two really nice pieces that are definitely worth reading.

The first is on changing trends in illustrations in Indian children's book publishing.

A study of the history of children’s literature would be incomplete without a look at the illustrations that have accompanied classic works. Roald Dahl’s body of deliciously dark and comic children’s stories are practically inseparable from Quentin Blake’s illustrations of the characters – goggle-eyed and wobbly-limbed, rendered in his unmistakable spidery line. At an ongoing show in Max Mueller Bhavan, the works of 13 contemporary German children’s book illustrators is on display, along with the works of a few Indian artists, who also discussed developments in the field in a panel discussion held at the opening of the show last fortnight.
You can read the full piece here.

And the second is a review of Blaft's gorgeous new book, Kumari Loves a Monster.
An unnamed girl, her sari tied at the waist, jhumkas in her ears, and jasmine strung in her long, plaited hair, rides past a tribe of goats on a moped named “Tuss 50”. But it’s hard to be certain whether the wonderstruck farmhands tending to the goats are looking at the speeding maiden or are transfixed by the hulking ghoul clinging to her waist, with blistered skin oozing fluids, delirious eyes and slavering snout pressing close to the damsel’s undoubtedly fragrant locks. The picture’s caption, however, doesn’t do much to allay the shepherds’ confusion: “You my dear, are one in a million,” the rider appears to be pleading. “Hold me tight, and ride the pillion!” This is a scene typical of Kumari Loves a Monster, conceptualised by Rashmi Ruth Devadasan and released by Blaft, the Chennai-based publishing house that she runs along with her husband Rakesh Kumar Khanna.
You can read this piece here.

Interesting Book Design : Secret Garden

Via Little Design Book

To celebrate Puffin Books’ 70th anniversary, the publishing house commissioned 6 art, design and style icons to re-design the covers of their favourite books.

My favourite however (book and cover design both) is Lauren Child’s artwork for Secret Garden: its a tangled web of vines, plants and trees that peel off layers by layer under the garden and the girl are revealed. It evokes the spirit of the story and invites the reader into a secret special world that only reading the book can unfold. As far as interaction design is concerned, it doesn’t get better or simpler or sweeter than this.
See the other redesigned books here.

Image Source

Thursday, September 23, 2010


This morning as i went for my usual morning walk at the police quarters i saw tons of traffic policemen marching.

And when I saw this I felt an immense sense of pride in our nation.....there is just this wonderful feeling that I get when I hear the national anthem, or when I hear the police band, a wonderful patriotic feeling that always takes me back 20 yrs in time when I was so sure I wanted to be a police inspector [yep die-hard “udaan” fan]. In due course of time my mom convinced me that for a “woman” that may not be the best vocation and gave me a 100 different career ideas. [In retrospect of course i thank her as I seem to have found my place at Pratham Books doing what I love -branding:)]

Anyway, as this thought passed my mind I stopped midway – not the best vocation for a how much has life changed in 20 years.

I smile when I see my 3 year old son roll chappatis. His friend, a girl can't seem to get over the stegosaurus meant for him. There are no longer stereotypes in urban India. You can dream - irrespective of your gender.

Why is this post relevant at all? Today is International Girl Child day and while we live our cushioned lives many many little girls are getting deprived of their childhood. No schooling, working when they should be playing, cooking when they should be singing, baby sitting when they are literally babies themselves, under-age marriages.....the issues are countless. And if there is ONE thing that can combat all of this, its education. The power of knowledge can open many doors for these little girls.

We all can make a difference. Sponsor education, gift a book and sometimes just a simple NO while hiring under-age help.

EdelGive Social Innovation Honours: Entries Invited

Tomorrow is International Girl Child Day and i found this so relevant...


Announcing the EdelGive Social Innovation Honours (ESIH) 2011. EdelGive Social Innovation Honours 2011 will recognize NGOs who have worked to create an innovative model for delivery of essential services to women and girl children. These innovations are cost-effective, with the potential to deliver long term benefits. The Awards are given out in the categories of health, education, socio-cultural rights, governance and livelihoods.
Specifically, here are the award categories and their details:
  • Health and well being: Awarding an innovation which promotes women’s health and overall well-being
  • Education: Awarding an innovation which provides women with access to education and/or improved quality of education
  • Economic Security & Livelihoods: Awarding an innovation which helps women increase their income, and / or provides them with employment opportunities.
  • Social and Cultural rights: Awarding an innovation which helps women overcome social and cultural challenges.
  • Governance: Awarding an innovation which prepares women to participate in available legislative positions
The applications for ESIH 2011 are now open and the last date for submission is October 23, 2010.
If you or your NGO has been focussing on providing essential services to women and girl children, you can read more about it here.
To apply online, go here.

In case of queries you can also contact the folks at EdelGive foundation:
Phone: 022-65240579/ 4342 8296/97
About ESIH
Launched in 2008, EdelGive Foundation hosts the annual ESIH awards to reward and recognise innovations that are empowering women and girl-children.
EdelGive Foundation, which is an initiative of Edelweiss Capital Limited and provides strategic direction to the philanthropic activities of Edelweiss, its employees, clients and associates. EdelGive’s key priority is to focus on the areas of education, livelihoods and supporting women’s empowerment. EdelGive’s investment is in the form of financial but more importantly, capacity building support to its investees.

36 Authors to Write a Novel in 6 Days

Via GalleyCat

Seattle7Writers and Hugo House have come teamed up for a collaborative novel-writing marathon, "The Novel: Live!"

Thirty-six authors including bestselling authors Erik Larson, Elizabeth George, Jamie Ford, and Nancy Rawles will each contribute to a novel constructed entirely over the course of a six-day period from October 11th to October 16th.

Themes, characters, and locations for the novel will be finalized on October 10th. Designated "Fairy God-author" Nancy Pearl will act as the writers' supervisors throughout the writing process. At 10am on day one, Jennie Shortridge will preside over the computer setup at Hugo House's cabaret stage for a two-hour writing shift. Garth Stein will take the final shift on the 16th, ending the project at 10 pm.

Here's more from the release: "Through large screen projection at the Hugo House--a nonprofit center for writers and readers in Seattle, WA--along with live streaming online at, and regular updates from authors on Facebook and Twitter, the novel will take shape before the very eyes of its live and virtual audience. Online users will be able to watch as the novel is written and edited, letter for letter, word for word, in a live text box, as well as through live video streaming of the authors direct from Hugo House."

Read the entire article here.

On iPads and Reading and More...

The DNA recently covered one of our favourite friends, Brij Singh from Fliplog - they created the iPhone applications for us and Tulika.

From the article:

Apptility has kicked off its e-publishing project by tying up with Indian publishers Tulika and Pratham Books to transform some of their popular children’s titles, such as Tulika’s Ekki Dokki and Pratham’s Annual Haircut Day, into e-books.It also has plans of creating ‘from scratch’ e-books for the iPad and other tablet devices. The start-up has published about 20 books, including nine in the children’s category, within a few months of launching Fliplog, and there are many more in the queue.
Marrying the multi-lingual variety available in Indian children’s books with iPad technology has been one of the high points. If you download one of the multilingual books, Tulika’s The Runaway Peppercorn, for instance, users get a page-by-page multilingual audio and can switch between a Hindi/English version and a Tamil/English version. This is especially useful for children growing up in multi-lingual householdsor ones in which parents find it difficult to introduce kids to vernacular languages.

And we love the fact that the Creative Commons model got a shout out too:
The coming together of Apptility and Indian publishers willing to let companies like them digitalise their books was largely serendipitous. Pratham Books licences its content under open, Creative Commons licenses that allow Apptility, and anyone else, to use them without requiring negotiations, provided the terms of the licence are followed, says Gautam John of Bangalore-based Pratham Books. “We hope Brij and other organisations will reuse this content in ways that will continue to surprise us,” says John.
You can read the full piece here.

Don't forget, our iPad/iPhone application and Tulika's too!

Saving Face: Why Our Pupils Suffer For Our Honour

Via Youth Ki Awaaz
A little girl shivers with malaria in the late afternoon at school. Her teacher won’t send her home. Instead she beats the little girl with a wooden ruler to make her stop ‘deliberately shaking’ her hands. An 8-year-old boy in a municipal school in Mumbai passes out from hunger after the recess. His father has forbidden him from eating the khichdi (a nutritious mid-day meal of porridge) that is distributed for free as a mid-day meal by the Government. A 2nd grade teacher, now 14 years into her job, makes her students copy 10 random pages of their English text book every day. However, not a word of English will be spoken or listened to by her students in the entire academic year.

What is common in these three examples? Children in India suffering at the hands of a callous system, you would probably say. Indeed, but investigate a little deeper, and a pattern emerges – a malaise that has devastated our children in the past, and has ominous portents for our future as a nation. In the first example, the teacher refused to acknowledge the illness of her pupil. If she did, it would have meant facing her total absence of knowledge on how to deal with medical emergencies, as well as exposing her unwillingness to go the extra mile in arranging for the student to receive medical attention. Allowing his son to eat the mid-day meal would mean letting the world know that this out-of-work father cannot make ends meet. Trying to teach basic phonics or reading to her 2nd graders would mean revealing the shocking truth for the 2nd grade teacher – that the teacher’s own English proficiency is at pre-kindergarten level. In each case, confronting the problem would involve those responsible for the students’ well-being to lose face. It is this very fear of losing face that has made our education system a minefield of insensitivity and lost opportunities.

So herein lies the paradox: A historically and culturally-sanctioned notion of respect and veneration for our gurus of yore, pre-empts expectations of accountability from our teachers in modern, contemporary India. We hesitate to make teachers responsible for pupil learning outcomes among their children because we are loath to de-sanctify their exalted status in our culture.

Our public primary education system caters to our most vulnerable children coming from what are considered the lowest strata of our highly power-distanced society. In an unfortunate double-whammy, these pupils are far, far likelier to spend many years with teachers who may disregard their basic duties, as compared to their more wealthy counterparts who go to private unaided schools. With every additional year that a vulnerable child spends in the ‘care’ of incompetent teachers, the achievement gap just widens further.

Question is, what can we do about it? As teachers and headmasters, we must see ourselves as truly responsible for the learning outcomes of pupils.

The winds of change have already begun to blow: the latest continuous comprehensive evaluation systems place an emphasis on learning through activities and a welcoming school environment, rather than the tyranny of final examinations. The day when the mindset of every public school teacher changes from that of an administrator to that of a change leader, will we do justice to the 600 million young minds hungering for knowledge and learning in our country today. Till then, we have the shame of the under-education, unemployment and under-achievement of our future generations on our hands. The choice is ours.
Read the entire article here.

Indian Publishers and the Art of the Freebie

Via Time Out Delhi

When a child buys a book from The 39 Clues series, she doesn’t only get an adventure story about a pair of siblings trying to uncover a family secret. Nestled inside the book is a set of collectors’ cards that can be used to play online games. Increasingly, Indian publishers are tucking gaming cards, badges and funky bookmarks into children’s books in a bid to break through the clutter at bookstores. Considering that Crossword Bookstores stocks approximately 12,000 children’s titles at their flagship Select CityWalk branch, it’s difficult for publishers to draw attention to their books unless it’s a classic such as Charlotte’s Web or a popular hit like Twilight. All this competition has bred innovation, said Vatsala Kaul Banerjee, an editorial director of children’s and reference books at Hachette India. “

Hachette has published three books with freebies so far: Friends Forever celebrates Friendship Day and comes with a friendship band, Mom & Me for Mother’s Day is available with a shining “World’s Best Mom” badge and World’s Best Dad has a Dad & Me button.

Apart from gifts, publishers are also throwing in posters and online contests that offer prizes. For instance, Tara Books is giving away a silk-screen print of a cat along with Anushka Ravishankar’s I Like Cats, which features felines in a variety of Indian tribal art forms. When Puffin launched Jeanne Perrett’s Ash & Tara: The Emerald Dagger, a fantasy set in the Mughal era, the marketing team organised an Ash and Tara Online Treasure Hunt on the Penguin India website.

While some publishers are focussing on such marketing innovations, others are trying to create a buzz around the book or its characters. ACK Media, the publishers of Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha comics, has a school programme at which students learn about Indian heroes such as Subhash Chandra Bose and JRD Tata.

A classroom presentation is followed by a quiz, peppered with questions like “What will you do if someone snatches away your lunch box?” Based on the answers, a child is given a Hero profile – “You are 50 per cent Akbar, 10 per cent Gandhi and 40 per cent Laxmi Bai”, for example. “The point being that heroes are of different types, and you too can be a hero,” said Samir Patil, the CEO and founder of ACK Media.

However, publishers insist that innovations and freebies can only push a book’s popularity so far. “I think if the gift excites them and they pick up the books, they are likely to read the stories and try out some of the activities. And that’s more than enough in the direction of helping them be more excited about reading! The gift is only an add-on; it can never be the mainstay. If the book is bad, no gift is going to make up for it.”
Read the entire article here.

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An Online Storytelling Lab For College Students


A group of students at Northwestern decided to initiate a Kickstarter project upon realizing that the school lacks a dedicated platform to encourage and broadcast the distinctive creativity of its undergraduates. Their proposed platform – – aims to provide that solution by allowing students to tell their story via digital media.

According to the starters:

We are taking up the tools of our generation: the dynamism of digital video, the flexibility of online journalism, and the formidable advances in presentation, design, and online infrastructure. We intend to use these tools as powerful allies as we endeavor to lift up the creative efforts of our most imaginative peers, to be inspired by work of quality that deserves to rise above the fray of YouTube.

We’re not just creating a resource for Northwestern: we’re creating a multimedia laboratory. Every aspect of the project offers a new twist on an old medium. All we need is the equipment to bring a new storytelling aesthetic out of the box and into the world.

The plan entails profiling one student a week, as selected and determined by the project’s originators. A high-quality video profile, written profile, interview and photo shoot will capture the student and his/her narrative, while a website and related arts & culture blog supporting the project will serve as a promotional vehicle for the subjects. Lastly, the site will also showcase the school’s existing video content. A prototype site [][demonstrates how this would all work.

While the project has already surpassed its fundraising goal, it offers a strong example of proactive and resourceful students sophisticated in how digital and traditional media can help them tell their stories, elevate their ideas and work – and ultimately, get hired after graduating.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Frontline Dispatches: Fiona from TFI

Fiona Vaz, who has previously written a guest post for us, sent us this wonderful story that we had to share with you:

The Background: Fiona Vaz, a Teach for India Fellow , inspires students at the school beyond academics. In my fleeting associations with her over the last one year, I found her deeply involved with what she does and very closely connected with the youngsters who come to the school against many odds, to pursue, very simply... a better future. Last May, Fiona visited some high-performance schools for the underprivileged in USA and came back very impressed with the fact that some schools had this unbelievable target of 200 books a year per kid. Finding this truly aspirational, she implemented it in her classroom.
MISSION: 200 Books A Year (365 days)
Did they achieve it? How hard was it? Click on through to read all about it!

Book Trailers and Indian Publishing

Via Hindustan Times
It’s a 40 second video. Big bold letters announce the end of an era. A muscled man raises his head to the sun amid the chanting of Sanskrit shlokas. Sounds like an interesting film, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s the book trailer of Immortals of Meluha, one of the four trailers that the author, Amish, has uploaded on YouTube prior to the book’s release.

This is not the only one. There is an illustrated video announcing the release of Devdutt Patnaik’s book Jaya. There are book trailers for Ashok Bankar’s novels Gods of War and Vengeance of Ravana, too.

Book trailers swept the publishing industry in the West in 2007, but it is now that Indian publishers and independent authors are exploring the potential of such videos.
“This is a relatively new method of publicising books, especially in India.

The idea is to take publicity for books beyond the conventional ambit, into new areas that consumers today are zoning into,” says Hemali Sodhi of Penguin India. The publishing house has a YouTube channel, which “reaches out to younger readers.”

Author Tuhin Sinha created a video for his book That Thing Called Love in 2008, in which Tuhin and a friend enact a scene from the book. “The teaser was meant as a brand-building exercise for the book, and showcased the book’s plot as a plot viable for films,” says Tuhin.

Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts


Jane Austen’s fiction manuscripts are the first significant body of holograph evidence surviving for any British novelist. They represent every stage of her writing career and a variety of physical states: working drafts, fair copies, and handwritten publications for private circulation. The manuscripts were held in a single collection until 1845, when at her sister Cassandra’s death they were dispersed among family members, with a second major dispersal, to public institutions and private collections, in the 1920s.1 Digitization enables their virtual reunification and will provides scholars with the first opportunity to make simultaneous ocular comparison of their different physical and conceptual states; it will facilitate intimate and systematic study of Austen’s working practices across her career, a remarkably neglected area of scholarship within the huge, world-wide Austen critical industry.

Many of the Austen manuscripts are frail; open and sustained access has long been impossible for conservation and location reasons. Digitization at this stage in their lives not only offers the opportunity for the virtual reunification of a key manuscript resource, it will also be accompanied by a record in as complete a form as possible of the conservation history and current material state of these manuscripts to assist their future conservation.

Visit the website

Book Review : Tall….Taller…Tallest

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own kids.

This book review comes from Rachana who received our book 'Tall….Taller…Tallest'.
I'm a big fan of Bi-lingual books. It enables the reader to associate each word in the unknown language with its counterpart in the more familiar language. This makes it an enjoyable experience rather than a just a learning exercise. It is sad but true that most children, including mine are more familiar with English than our Indian languages. The same holds good for me too, I'm more comfortable reading an English book. I really love what Pratham and other Indian Publishers like Tulika are doing in the Childrens' Books space, making it so much fun to embrace and learn/teach a new language. THANK YOU!

The book "Tall ..Taller ..Tallest" "Lamba ..Aur Lamba..Sabse Lamba" not only introduces the young reader to simple Hindi words along with their usage,but also teaches him/her the concept of size differences.

Ravi is unable to reach the juicy mangoes on the tree using his bat,as he is not tall enough.He takes the help of Munna who is taller than him,but he too cannot reach them. Finally, Geetu who is the tallest of the three does the job! The language,both in English and Hindi is simple, easy on the 3 or 4 year old's mind. My daughter really enjoyed the book. The illustrations complement the flow of the story. The activity pages are a nice addition to enforce the understanding of the concept "Tall ..Taller ..Tallest"

Just one small thing - the word 'bat' could have been referred to as "Balla' in hindi,instead of writing the word "Bat" as is in Hindi.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inviting stories for Chicken Soup for the Indian Teenage Soul on Love and Friendship

(We received information about this project from Chintan. Thank you Chintan! Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan manages)

Last dates for accepting submissions: 15th October 15th 2010. I will close as soon as I have selected my 101 stories for the same do do try and send them fast.

The write-ups will carry the contributor’s name. Westland pays Rs 1000 per story and two copies of the book. We carry a 3-4 line profile on all contributing authors. We accept blogged and published work too provided the authors get the reprint permissions. The copyright of the stories stay with the author. We have carried up to five stories per person so multiple entries are welcome. We accept poems too (provided they have a story in them).

One need not be a teen to write, you could write in reminiscence or  Recipe for a Chicken Soup for the Indian Teenage soul on love and friendship

A Chicken Soup for the Soul® story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They are personal and often filled with emotion and drama.

Publishing house: Westland

Please send your stories to:

Ladder Bookshelf

Got an unused ladder in your house? How about making a cool bookshelf out of it?

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How Can We Support Emergent Readers?

Via The Book Chook
Let children choose! Reading for pleasure is supposed to be just that. Your school might insist on a certain book being practised for homework, but if you take your child to the local library, there will be a great choice of easy readers. Having lots of easy readers to choose from gives your child some ownership over her reading.

Keep books handy and accessible - in the car, on an easy-to-reach shelf in their bedrooms, in the bathroom even. Make sure there are all types of books around all the time, not just at bedtime and not just easy readers. A book makes a great break from boisterous play.

Let children read aloud to you if they want. I know that sometimes the last thing we want as parents is to listen to Ben and Ken Go to Town for the 34th time. But that's what parents do! We are our children's greatest supporters, and emergent readers need all our support.

Play games with easy readers. This is especially important if your child isn't yet a confident reader. Open to any page and read aloud one sentence, swapping a key word for another you make up. "Ben and Ken climbed all the way to the top of the hill banana." Let your child correct you. Make it fun.
Read the entire article here.

Book Review : Samira's Awful Lunch

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own kids.

This book review comes from Vasumathi VijayAnand who received our book 'Samira's Awful Lunch'.
Samira's Awful Lunch is a wonderful book for kids who refuses to eat their lunch. I read this book once to my girl and now everyday she reads the same story again and again. My girl was similar to Samira in her food habits and it frustrated me a lot. After reading this story I can visibly see a good difference in her food habits. Such is the way the message is conveyed in this story. It is so easy for the kids to understand and follow. Very good way of narration.I would definetly recommend this book to parents who have fussy eating children. Thanks to Pratham for publishing such good books.

Ssstories in the making

As editors, we get to see a lot of things before the reader of our books get to see them. For instance, one of our forthcoming books is about the magnificent King Cobra, written by wildlife conservationist Janaki Lenin and illustrated by Maya Ramaswamy. So dramatic is the narration, and so realistic are the illustrations of the snake that our designer colleague couldn't sleep on the day he worked on those illustrations!

But while we get the book ready, you can actually go to the home of the King Cobra----the Western Ghats. Sign up for the "A Rainforest Adventure" about which a friend sent a mail:

Bhoomi Network with Gaia Wilderness Learning Centre, is offering a 3 day programme - A Rainforest Adventure in the Western Ghats on 12th, 13th and 14th October, 2010.

This programme is open
a) for children aged 12-16 years.
b) for teenagers/ adults aged 17 years and above.

This programme has been designed with care to suit children / adults who are familiar with wilderness as well as those who have never camped or trekked before. There will be activities for both children and adults. As a community with people from diverse backgrounds, we expect a rich shared experience of learning and earth reverence at Agumbe.

For Enquiries and Registration:
Contact - Ananth - 09035388221 or Santhi – 098450 26033
Contact Bhoomi Network at 2844 1173, 6573 4043 or

Club Penguin in India


Club Penguin, [a] penguin based virtual world for kids for Indian kids, charges are Rs. 199 per month for additional benefits for children. Club penguin also allows parents to create ids for their children and monitor their children’s activity on the platform.

Visit it here: 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Barack Obama to Publish Children's Book

Via BBC News

US President Barack Obama has written a children's book which is to be published on 16 November, two weeks after Congressional mid-term elections.

The book - Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters - was written before Mr Obama took office in January 2009.

The 40-page book pays tribute to 13 Americans, from the first President George Washington to baseball legend Jackie Robinson.

Mr Obama has already published two books which have become best-sellers.

The cover of his new book is an illustration of his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, walking their dog Bo.

Proceeds from the book are to go to a scholarship fund for the children of soldiers killed and disabled in wars.

The head of Random House's children's division, Chip Gibson, said Of Thee I Sing "celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans - the potential to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths.

"It is an honour to publish this extraordinary book, which is an inspiring marriage of words and images, history and story."

Read the entire article here.

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Guitar Case Bookshelf

Have a musical Monday everyone! (Via Recyclart)

You can Help the Deaf

Via NGO Post:

Can’t Stop Reading, an initiative providing meaningful employment to Deaf Community, celebrates “International Week for the Deaf” and September 26th as the “Day of the Deaf” in India.

We have initiated a drive to collect 30000 books at the first phase before launching our library service by the Deaf Community in Mumbai. How you can help us in the following ways:
Donate Books
* Donate Funds for the initiative.
* Share information about this initiative in your organization and facilitate a books donation drive for us.
* Become our Volunteer and help us share information, collect books and any other support possible.
* Recommend us to your organization to consider our project as part your CSR programme.
* To know more about us, please visit our website

Book Review : Yakity Yak

Earlier this month, we were giving out review copies of few of our books. We were excited to hear what all of you thought of our books (the good things and the bad things!) and hope that this feedback from people (educators, parents, book lovers, children) will help us create better books and help you choose books for your own kids.

This book review comes from Bramara Nagraj who received our book 'Yakity Yak'.
Author benita Sen has worked with the Children's magazine and she likes to write for children.

The intended audience for the book Yakity Yak is chidren of the age group 7-10 years.

The story is about a Young Yak who is very talkative and the problems he faces because of his talkativeness and how he overcomes his problem with his talkativeness. The story tells about the problem one faces if he is very talkative,in other ways it also tells how talkativeness helps to reach the destination.

I liked the story because of its simplicity, this attracts kids to read.The language of the story is simple and easily understandable.My 7 yr old daughter enjoyed reading and she finished it in one sitting.

The story begins with simple concept that happens in most of the house.In every house as soon as a baby is born,every one think which name suits well for the kid,people keep on discussing about the name
till they finalize with one name.The same thing happens in story, Children who read the story asks their parents why did you choose this name for me? They will get to know one more story ,an interesting story behind their name?

The second thing in the story is about Young Yak's talkativeness.It makes us think being talkative is good or bad, and the story concludes by telling being talkative is both good and bad. Story considers cloud, wind, flower, leaves, grass, stone, sun, birds as friends. I liked the author's way of telling kids to love nature and how the nature love them too by giving back. I liked the name of the young yak "yakity" and the significance of the name.The book holds the reader till she finish reading.

The illustrations are good. In some pages pictures of flowers are not good,they appear just like coloured circle. In page 8 mother yak's color is different from other pages. Instead of putting glass to father yak,if it was put grand father yak, it would have been easier for the readers to identify who is father and who is grand father. Till the last page we can't able to know who is father and who is grand father by looking at the picture. The pictures are quite confusing.The colours used are very pleasing.

The price of the book is reasonable and the book is worth reading. I recommend this book as worth reading for kids of 7 and 8yrs.

Get Shot Reading!

Our friends at Hippocampus are running a fun contest to encourage taking pictures of kids reading. They write:

Send in your best photographs and who knows, you might just be a winner!
The TOP 15 photographs will be exhibited at a leading ART GALLERY - Galleryske.
Photographs, Artistes, Books, Lemonade, Friends, Family & YOU - it's an exhibition YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS!!!

More details are on their blog here (and do visit the main page too - some rather nice pictures as you can see from the one we posted.)