Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Collage treat!

We saw this post by wordjunkie on Saffron Tree and were delighted! Two of the books reviewed by wordjunkie were our very own collage based books - Kaka and Munni and Paper play!

I cannot resist a book illustrated in collage. There is something almost magical about images fashioned from things which were once something else -  magazine pages, toffee wrappers, found objects, mummy’s old sari. I like to think that each piece of a collage brings with it its own history, its own story blending silently into the one being illustrated. And, given how engulfed we are these days by sophisticated, digitally enhanced images, the quiet, wholesome charms of hand crafted art are a refreshing change.

Kaka and Munni: A folktale from Punjab
Retold and Illustrated by Natasha Sharma
Pratham Books
 Ages  4+

Kaka and Munni is a cumulative tale, partly in verse, starring clever sparrow Munni and Kaka, the crow she outwits. Munni sits quietly in her nest by the wheat fields. Along comes the village bully, Kaka, intending to snack on her eggs. Quick thinking Munni agrees, but asks Kaka to go wash his beak first. Silly Kaka, who is very vain about his appearance, is upset by the idea of not looking his best and agrees. Only, things aren’t going to be as simple as that, are they? He asks the stream for water to wash himself, only to be told to fetch a cup first. So he goes to the potter for a cup, only to be told to fetch some mud. And the fields are baked hard in the summer sun, so Kaka needs a sharp tool to dig up the mud.  And so on, until Kaka learns a painful lesson.

I enjoyed the rich, vibrant colours of the illustrations in this book, and the innovative way scale has been played with. The lively mix of textures, prints and colours makes each page a pleasure to pore over, even rub with your fingers. I did feel sorry for poor Kaka, though! 

Paper Play
Written by Mala Kumar
Illustrated by Ruchi Shah
Pratham Books
Ages 4+

‘Swoosh!’ A piece of paper floats in through the window, and Manju nearly throws it away. But in walks Wasim and, in his hands, the crumpled ball of paper becomes a ball. Then Syeda picks it up and, voila! The ball of paper is now a lollipop, like the ones she will sell one day when she has her own sweet shop. But now Bittu walks in and the lollipop is transformed ..again!

Paper Play celebrates that greatest of childhood toys – the imagination. The simplest of things – a piece of paper – sets Manju and her friends off on an imaginative journey, with each one taking turns to conjure up clever interpretations of the paper . In keeping with the whimsical theme, the illustrations too make inventive use of paper scraps. Shredded noodles of paper become the children’s hair; flowers bloom out of newspaper sheets; pieces of coloured paper become clouds, trees, windows, birds – even a hungry little donkey!

This book could be a good introduction to paper craft for young readers. The book ends with a page of instructions to turn a square of paper into a little hut – an easy introduction to origami. I also liked its subtle environmental message – don’t throw stuff away, it just might have a second life as something else. Like a whole book !

Read the entire article.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How 'Susheela's Kolams' took shape

We're so excited about the International Literacy Day event when our champions will read from 'Susheela's Kolams' across the length and breadth and diagonals of the country! Author Sridala Swamy wrote the story, working with illustrator Priya Kuriyan at the workshop that Pratham Books had held in Delhi last year to bring out good Level 1 books. Writing for little ones is a big challenge. One has to engage them, make them want to read, welcome them on a journey into books, AND use the simplest of words and concepts to achieve that. How did Sridala come up with this idea for her book? Here it is in Sridala's own words:

 About Writing Susheela’s Kolams : 
There was only one time in my life when I made a kolam. 

Like lots of other children growing up in the 70s, I used to practise drawing kolams at the back of a rough notebook. We began with simple 3-5-7 dots a line patterns, then attempted more complicated ones and challenged each other to see who could finish their kolam first without any mistakes. But these attempts never made it out of the page. 

My mother on the other hand...I have never seen my mother draw a single kolam in a book. In fact, I have never seen her draw a kolam with dots. What she does is what my grandmother does: freehand kolams made with rice flour. 

On our doorstep is a small dabba with rice flour in it. Every morning, my mother brings out a small bucket of water, sprinkles the ground with water to settle the dust and begins to make her kolam for the day. I never know what it will be. She bends over, takes a pinch of flour between her fingers pauses for a moment and begins. It always begins with a line so straight you’d think there was a ruler involved. In minutes, there’s a neat, absolutely proportionate and beautiful pattern just below our first step. 

When I was in my rebellious teens, my mother tried to get me to do things she thought every girl should be able to do. So I found myself with a cup of flour and a clean patch of ground. Not even a Cubist would call the line I drew a straight one: when the flour poured out from between my fingers, the line was smudgy and thick. Mostly, it looked like a series of slashes or dots. At 14, the kolam I had made resembled the first scribbles of a child holding an unaccustomed crayon in her hands.

I never tried again. But I watched my mother as she made her kolams and my grandmother as she made hers. I watched as the canvas expanded during festivals to include large areas of the garden, the corners of steps and the edges of floors. I listened as they spoke about the kolams they had made years ago and I felt left out of this community of shared talent. 

Many years later, for the first time in my life I found myself completely alone on Diwali in Delhi. My family was elsewhere and I was alone. I stood at my door and contemplated the mosaic and wondered if a kolam would show. Remembering my ineptness with powder, I decided to make a traditional Diwali kolam with wet rice flour. I tore a bit of cloth, dipped it in the flour and pictured to myself the kolams of Diwalis past. 

Under my fingers, the patterns grew: there was the basic square, embellished with semi-circles and spirals around the corners; there were lotus patterns and wavy lines for where the floor met the wall. At some point my neighbour came out to watch. She brought me a cup of tea and we chatted. I confessed that this was my first ever kolam and she looked as astonished as I felt. When I told my mother over the phone, her disbelief was overlaid with other complicated emotions that I could practically hear over the long-distance call. 

All these things were in my mind when I wrote Susheela’s Kolams. I didn’t necessarily want to put all of it into my very short story, but they were all there, like encouraging ghosts, as I began to write. 

I wanted it to be fun and expansive and just a little impossible. I wanted my Susheela to be the wizard of rice flour. I wanted all things to be possible for her. Like Henry with his magic purple crayon, I wanted Susheela to have to ability to bring the world into being or at the very least, to be able to reframe it within the lines of her kolam. 

The world is Susheela’s canvas and the wonderful thing is that the adult world does not think of her talent as vandalism. No one tells her she mustn’t draw on the sides of buildings or asks her what she thinks she’s doing, scribbling on the outside of trains. For a child, such a world exists only in the imagination. 

And where else can the imagination be fearless and free if not in stories? 


Thank you Sridala! And thank you Priya for getting all of Susheela's kolams into the book....a book which is going to be read by thousands of little girls and boys soon.

Read more interviews with Pratham Books authors and illustrators.

Would you like to be a Pratham Books Champion and be a part of our celebrations on September 8, 2012? Learn how you can help us spread the joy of reading.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amazon launches Kindle store for India

Via Business Standard

Amazon.com unveiled the India Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestoreindia), which showcases over a million books, priced in rupees. The company has roped in Croma, part of Infiniti Retail (a fully-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons), to retail its latest Kindle e-reader, priced at Rs 6,999, across 30 Croma outlets and its online store.

An Amazon.com spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company was looking for retail partnerships with leading Indian book retailers for Kindle. The company has also not revealed any plans for the much-talked about Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, through which Kindle users can borrow e-books from about 1,45,000 titles for free (a book a month), with no due dates. “Amazon Prime, the lending library, is currently available only for our US customers and we don’t have any plans to share on its launch in India,” said the spokesperson.

“We are proud to launch this new Kindle store for Indian customers. It offers Kindle book purchases in rupees and the ability to buy and read the works of many great Indian authors,” stated Russ Grandinetti, vice-president of Kindle Content. Amazon.com has also launched Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for independent authors and publishers in India. KDP is a free platform for authors and publishers to make their books available to Kindle customers, both on Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps. New features for authors and publishers in India include deciding India-specific prices and receiving royalty payments in rupees.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Join Pratham Books for a Poetry Recital by Prayag Shukla!

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Pratham Books launches its newest title “Here Comes the Camel and Other Poems”! You can look forward to a lyrical evening where poet and author, Prayag Shukla himself will enthrall children with a reading in Hindi!

The book is a collection of poems beautifully penned by Prayag Shukla. Originally written in Hindi, these poems can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The book is available in English and Marathi too.

Also don't forget to send in your entries in the poetry writing and recital contest. Winners get a copy of the books signed by the author. The last date for the Poetry writing and recital contest has been extended to 3rd September 2012. Click here to know more. 

Date: 24th August 2012

Time: 4.30 pm onwards

Venue: Safdarjung Tomb, Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi

Other sessions: Our friends at 'Poetry at a Monument' will continue their poetry session for adults after ours. So stay-on for a lyrical evening.

* Entry is free. But please do reserve a spot by calling Jot on 09654122990 or send an e-mail to info@prathambooks.org

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Organization to Help Top International Book Fests Source Funds

...the Word Alliance, provides an international umbrella organization for leading international literature festivals. The aim of alliance is to lobby for new sources of funding, as well as forge relationships with people in charge of festivals globally. It brings together Jaipur, Etonnants Voyageurs, the Melbourne Writer’s Festival,PEN World Voices, Toronto’s Harbourfront Festival, the Bookworm International Literary Festival in Beijing and others into the fold. 
By establishing the organization, which bestows a kind of “badge of trust” on the events, it might assist, in particular, with attracting government funding. Given the explosion of literary festivals worldwide, Barley said the Alliance is a way “to respond to having so many festivals…we realized that this alliance could do something really important. It has an international outlook and a passion for authors from different cultures. At Edinburgh we always wanted to bring authors from everywhere but it was getting more and more difficult to get them over.” 
It is a strategic partnership that aims to support and showcase writers and their work, enabling writers to be present at partner festivals whether in Beijing, Berlin or Brittany. 
“The idea is that we’ll have a dozen festivals around the world, we would like to represent the major languages. We try to have meetings in the language of the festival. It’s primarily a vehicle to make better literary festivals, to provide help for them to improve — there is the professional side to it, helping marketing teams — how to deal with social media for example. Every festival has its priorities.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Off the Shelf - Putting the Library Back at the Heart of a School, Workshop

(Please click on the image above for a larger view)

Jumpstart GBO in collaboration with Pratham Books and India International Centre, Delhi
invites you to participate in
 Off The Shelf- Putting the Library back at the heart of a school
24th August, 10am- 1pm

This workshop is for librarians, teachers and principals.

Entry is free. Mail in your name and mobile number to be on the guest list at : gbo.jumpstart@gmail.com

About the workshop :
Book-love has changed over the years and the places where you found this love have been changing as well. Book- shops now often look like glamorous cafes or like a page on your computer screen. Books themselves are found in different formats and can be accessed differently and e- publishing is a word that will soon be as ho-hum as email. But what has happened to the good old library while we are learning to be bibliomaniacs with a new set of table manners?

The panel discussion and open interaction on libraries in schools will address many of these key questions from a place of sharing and hope. The lament of libraries losing ground is old and it is time to look at practices, old and new, those are making libraries what they should be. These best practices are like tendrils finding anew scaffolding and are transforming the library into an idea and a space 
that fits well in the new educational landscape. We will look at the shape-shifting idea of libraries in different contexts. 

The panel discussion will present a platter of ideas. The open discussion will hopefully put many more pieces on it. This workshop will be a place to share, network and learn from each other so that our children cherish books and libraries for the joy and freedom that they bring. 

How are libraries being created, managed and used in resource-scarce situations? How can we work with governments to take some good ideas to scale? How are some schools making the library the most visited place after the canteen by aligning it with classroom teaching? The library seems to be in a state of crisis. 

How often are books bought for the library? Who makes the decision for purchase and on what basis? What does the librarian do on a normal school day and where is she placed in the school hierarchy? What does the once a week library period mean to the children? Is it integrated in the school curriculum or other activities in any way that is meaningful to teachers and children? Can the library be the heart of the school where learning can be like flying kites of many colours in a very big blue sky? Or a cheerful open kitchen where you can cook with what you like…

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Here Comes the Camel...' with Poems, Contests and More!

The Camel is finally here! We are super thrilled about the newest addition to our list of titles - “Here comes the Camel and Other Poems”! It is a beautiful collection of poems put together by Prayag Shukla, originally written in Hindi and translated into English and Marathi. However, our celebration is never complete without you being a part of it. 

We have for you two fun contests. Participate and stand a chance to win exclusive autographed copies of the title.

Poetry Writing Contest:

Send us your original poems/verse on any topic in English, Hindi, Kannada or Marathi. Hurry!

Poetry Recital Contest:

For all those singers, musicians and rising stars, we have a poetry recital contest. Click here to download poems from “Here comes the Camel and Other Poems”. Record it as a song, shoot a home video of your performance or recite it in your own unique way and send it to us as mpeg videos.

Other details:

You can send your entry under either of the age group categories – below 16 or above 16. Send in your entries/queries to contest@prathambooks.org.

We've extended the last date for receiving entries to 3rd September 2012.

*By submitting your recording/video you agree to a "Creative Commons - Attribution - Share Alike license" being applied to it. While we encourage participation from all countries, prizes shall be couriered only within India.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Be a Pratham Books Champion - Join Us in Conducting 100 Storytelling Sessions

1 day. 1 book. 100 story telling sessions – Working towards a reading India.

This 'International Literacy Day' (8th September, 2012 ) lets take a step towards a reading India. Pratham Books, a not-for-profit children's book publisher aims to conduct 100 storytelling sessions
on a single day throughout the country.
The idea behind the campaign

The idea is to encourage children to fall in love with reading. This initiative is part of the Pratham Books' Champions program where we encourage our community of volunteers to conduct reading sessions. These sessions are conducted free of cost and mostly with children from under-served communities.

The quality of these sessions have been outstanding and early this year we even conducted 50 

This has encouraged us to dream of 100 storytelling sessions across the country [at least one in each state].

We hope that these storytelling sessions will also brings to light the issues of joyful reading, access and multilingual publishing.

The book chosen for this campaign is one of newest titles - “Susheela's Kolams”. It is a wonderful book about a little girl who loves kolams and dreams big!

While we will definitely conduct sessions in 5 languages, we will try and increase the number of 
languages. [Pratham Books publishes in 11 languages so we will aim for that!]

How can we do this?
With your help! Please write to us to learn how you can participate in this event. Mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org. You have to conduct the storytelling session on 8th September, 2012. 

To know more about our champions program please visit the links below: http://prathambooks.org/pratham-books-champions

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Launch : Just Like a Bug

Via an email sent by Scholastic India

(Click on the image for a larger view)

Are Ants Creepy? Ana thinks so, but Zain and Ana have a new friend called Gopi, who thinks they are wonderful. Gopi loves bugs, butterflies and insects of all kinds. Which is how he comes to the attention of Dr Behram Dhongy, the famous bug man.Zain and Ana tell Gopi to stay away from the sinister giant Dr D, but Dr D is in search of something, and he desperately needs Gopi . . .

Featuring a mysterious bug-man, an anthill and a whole lot of slimy, creepy creatures, the third book in the Zain and Ana series will intrigue and delight Anushka Ravishankar's fans.

Date : 8th August, 2012
Time : 4pm onwards
Venuw : Oxford Bookstore, Cha Bar, 17 Park Street, Kolkata

Guru Poornima Gifts

Vidya Chaudhuri shares a post about celebrating Guru Poornima with books ...

3rd July was Guru Poornima. Some call it Vyasa Poornima also. For all self proclaimed Indian Music Aficionados (IMA?) it is very special day. A day to profess our respect and reverence to our music teachers and teachers in general. The question each year around this time is how do we do this? What gesture, which offering will suitable convey our feelings to our gurus? Somethings are inadequate, some trivial, some insignificant...and it goes on. A month in advance we begin this difficult task. A week before Guru Poornima, we are sweating and arguing. The night before calls for desperate measures. And Phew ... we manage to do something!

This year was pleasantly different. We had arrived at the perfect thing to offer our gurus right around Guru Poornima. I stumbled upon this marvelous book titled 'Bishnu, The Dhobi Singer' written by Subhadra Sen Gupta. As I flipped a few pages, I completely got hooked to the story of this little boy who could sing, his famed guru Mian Tansen, and their love for music. The strong bond between the teacher and the student, the invisible cord that binds them to their art, the world of music seen through the eyes of a hitherto uninitiated in to the world of elite- dhobi boy's perspective were all delicately woven into the story making it a super story. That day I presented a copy to my daughter Ananya. She almost missed her homework deadline in the excitement to finish reading the book. This was same reaction at home with any one who started to read that book. We all unanimously agreed that Ananya's teachers - Rinan Dida, Aparna Ma'am and Sanjay Uncle - would love to have this book as their Guru Poornima gift!

What better gift than a beautifully written story about Guru Shishya Parampara (Teacher- Pupil Tradition) on this special Teachers' day?  Will soon let you know our teachers' reactions to Bishnu, The Dhobi Singer.

Book Information :
The book 'Bishnu, the Dhobi Singer' is available in English, Hindi, Kannada and Marathi. Bishnu is a washerman's son who loves to sing. Fortune favours him as he meets Tansen, the greatest musician in the land and becomes his disciple. History comes alive as you share Bishnu's wonder! 

A Creative Resource Centre for Visually Impaired Children

Via The Hindu

Visually impaired children now have a rich fund of accessible knowledge in the form of braille books, audio books, tactile books, made available by the Creative Resource Centre, housed within the Hippocampus Children’s Library in Chennai.

An initiative by the Karadi Cultural Alliance Trust in association with the Sir Ratan Tata Trust Fund, the CRC contains over a hundred Braille titles, including tactile books drawn from books published by popular children’s book houses. The centre also has a collection of famous folktales of India in the audio format and will house tactile kits and toys.

The pilot centre was set up for visually impaired children aged four to fourteen years. A specialised catalogue of content has also been acquired to be handed over to the respective libraries.

The CRC is a service-oriented project that aims to stimulate the creative development of these children, instead of providing them with basic curricular materials alone. The aim is to enhance their emotional and intellectual growth.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Find Our Books at the Erode Book Festival

The 8th edition of the Erode Book Festival starts on 3rd August is on till 14th August. Our books will be available at the Eureka Books stall. Find our books at :

Stall No: 48
Date : 3rd Aug 2012 to 14th Aug 2012
Timing : 11 am to 9 pm

Venue: V.O.C Park ground , Near bus stand, Erode

The 2012 edition of the Erode Book Festival will begin at VOC Park grounds on August 3. Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission Chairman R. Nataraj will inaugurate the festival.

The festival would bring in over 130 publishers from across the country to exhibit thousands of books on a variety of subjects this year in 200 stalls.

A marathon would be organised on the morning of the opening day of the fair (August 3) to spread awareness among people on the importance of reading books.

From the evening of August 4 to August 14, poets, writers, Tamil scholars and film directors will add colour to the festival. The festival organisers would honour ten renowned writers on August 8. 

The Peravai had approached a number of private industries this year too and encouraged them to provide their labourers with gift coupons worth Rs. 100 each. These coupons could be exchanged at the fair to purchase books. The organisers had also designed a gift box with selected books worth Rs. 10,000. People could gift these boxes to the government schools and individuals of their choice.

Read the entire article.

The Magic Library

Started my day by watching this video. And boy, it did make me smile. I also spotted some of our books on the shelves of this library. Yayyyy!

Via Avalokiteśvara Trust's Youtube Channel

 A short film made to highlight the work of the Avalokiteśvara Trust. 

 The trust's vision is to empower children with the gift of education, the joy of learning, bringing into existence previously absent opportunities that allow for a better overall quality of life in the region. The trust aims to provide children with the requisite means to not only be educated at school but also to be assisted in their mental, emotional and psychological development and thereby given the best possible foundation for the rest of their lives. 

One of the key projects currently run under the umbrella of the Avalokiteśvara Trust is FOUNTAIN OF LEARNING Fountain of Learning a.k.a FOL, is an initiative to nurture and educate children in isolated villages of Ladakh. For the year 2012, FOL is setting up libraries in Ladakh, the remote ice desert region of the Himalayas.