Sunday, September 30, 2012

No Children’s Literature Award at the Crossword Awards

Anita Roy writing in the Sunday Guardian:

For the first time in the Crossword Book Award's 11-year history, there will be no prize winner in one of its categories: children's literature. The surprise announcement prompted Patchett-like reactions among the book community here. Well-known children's author Paro Anand said she was "nothing short of furious" at the decision: "those writing, and writing well, for children need to be applauded, supported and felicitated, not rubbished." 
Was there really not a single book for children published in India in the whole of 2011 worthy of the prize? The identity of those jury members will not be disclosed until the prize ceremony in Mumbai on October 18th, so they couldn't be contacted for comment, but comments there were aplenty from the children's book sphere.
Read the full piece here.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Story of the Board Game Aksharit

INK Fellow Madhumita Halder takes us through the inspiration and journey behind the creation of the board game Aksharit. Aksharit, which is similar to Scrabble, allows students to incorporate the power of play into learning Indian languages.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

‘Little Painters’ – Rang de Diwar

At the serene setting of Ashima Open Homes (Brookefield, Bangalore), Independence Day was a day to remember. It was one such day when there were no rules, no restrictions but just plain fun and action.

Early afternoon all the children got together at the basement to clear the mess and clean up the place. It was tiring but at the end of it we had a beautiful basement for ourselves.

Soon, it was time to reap the benefits of all the work the kids had put in. They were allowed to paint the basement walls in whatever way they liked. There were colours splashing and brushes sweeping the walls. It was indeed a colourful sight! (Let’s just forget about all the saboon, water and effort the moms had to put in to wash the clothes later.) 

The grand finale of the event was the launch of Pratham Books’ title ‘Little Painters’! A book that’s all about children who get their hands dirty but, in turn give wings to their artistic side. The kids were keen to know all about the adventures of the little painters in the story. They settled down for a fun-filled story telling session by Manju Dwivedi. We ended the session with a lot of gifts from Pratham Books! More stories…a lot more fun!

If you haven’t already heard about the ‘Big’ Contest with the ‘Little Painters’ click here for details now!

Vidya B Chaudhuri

IDEX Fellows Need Your Help Creating Libraries

From an email we received:

We are a group of IDEX Fellows working in six low-cost schools across Bangalore. The IDEX Fellowship is a 10-month professional development program in social enterprise for recent graduates from all over the world . These schools are affordable (250-750Rs per month, per student) and offer a reasonable alternative to the public school system for working families. Over the next 8 months, we hope to propose tailored solutions that will increase the schools' sustainability, streamline their operations and increase the quality of education that they are offering to families and students.

One of the projects that we currently have in the pipeline is the construction and organization of libraries, because three of these schools do not have libraries at all. Our goal is to acquire books from the leading Indian publishers of children's stories and build the libraries from this starting point with well-structured library classes, engaging reading programs and efficient check-out systems. We have created a homepage for this project at if you would like to participate with us in the pursuit of this goal.

If you might consider supporting this, please go here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Children's Literature Fest at the Azim Premji University

Pratham Books is going to be at the Children's Literature Fest! We are bringing loads of books with us that will be on sale. What's more! Our Editor - Mala Kumar will be on the panel that's discussing 'Publishing Children's Literature and Using it in the Classroom'.

The event is open to all. Hope to see you there!

Venue: Azim Premji University
Electronic City, Hosur Road
Bangalore 560100

Date: 27th and 28th September

Please click on the image for a larger view.


Our Books on Kindle Devices

Thanks to Litent many of our books are now available at rather nominal cost on Amazon's Kindle store.

Please do consider buying them there especially if you are not in India and find it hard to access our books in physical form. You can find a list of all of our books available on the Kindle platform here.

These books are Creative Commons licensed books and it was the open license that made these new formats possible. Please read our philosophy and tracker for more. You too can create new books and new formats!

Avalokiteśvara Trust: Libraries in Ladakh

Via Avalokiteśvara Trust's Facebook Page

We have been following, with great interest the journey that the Avalokiteśvara Trust has been on in setting up libraries across Ladakh.

From their Facebook page:
About: Avalokiteśvara is the all-seeing Bodhisattva of compassion and patron saint of Himalayan Buddhists. The trust seeks inspiration from the sublime values of limitless compassion for all living beings at the heart of this tradition. 
Mission: The trust's vision is to empower children with the gift of education, the joy of learning, bringing previously absent opportunities for a better overall quality of life in the region. The aim is to enhance the mental, emotional and psychological development of children within and beyond the education they receive at school, giving them the best possible foundation for the rest of their lives. 
Work: 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, a remote ice desert region of the western Himalaya. FoL began with engagement in one or two local monastery schools, out of a concern with acts of loving kindness, creativity, connection and compassion and our children's right to education. Since then, we have joined hands with other isolated and neglected schools across Ladakh, towards both the Indo-China and Indo-Pakistan borders.
We've been meaning to write about them for a while but never did get around to it. Since then, they have gone from one library to sixteen libraries! What's more they have wonderful pictures up of each and every one of those libraries that you can see over on their Facebook page. Some of the views are just stunning!

And via Ashwin Nag on Twitter, we came across this rather lovely video on how a library is set up.

There are a few ways in which you can help:

  • Spreading and sharing their work
  • Collecting and gifting children's books
  • Sponsoring a school library
  • Sponsoring a child.
  • Construction of a school/library
  • Volunteering, if you have training in Montessori methods, experience with young learners, consider yourself a selfless nurturer, love children's books or are a natural story-teller. Please write to with the subject-VOLUNTEER
  • To donate, please write with the subject- DONATE to the same email address above.
Follow them on Facebook and follow @abhigya_shukla on Twitter

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pratham Books - Footprint

The Poster Presentation session at ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) conference in Delhi went off very well and our Poster, Story Cards and the ‘Library in a Classroom’ kit made a splash on the platform of Early Childhood Education.

During the three day conference, participants who visited the poster area, and attended the presentation session on the 29th were quite impressed by the quality, range and innovative ideas that Pratham Books had adopted.

Many groups working in early childhood education interacted with us. They were curious about our books, impressed by the multiple languages and wanted additional details for purchasing the same.
The idea behind our story cards, its book like feel and unbelievable price received a lot of appreciation. However, the star attraction of the show turned out to be our ‘Library in a Classroom’ kit specially after the presentation session on Wednesday.

'Library in a Classroom' bag
The ‘Stories in a bag’ idea clicked.  The number of books, choice of languages, free shipping and all the additional offerings were very well received.
The bag was almost magical!

A group of delegates from Bangladesh were so impressed that they took many pictures of the bag and said it will be very useful in their work. They were all the more happy when they got to know that we have books in Bengali and promised to buy a bunch of them once they get back.

Dr Eva Thorp, Associate professor, George Mason University and Dr Maxine Berntsen, Professor Emeritus, Tata Institute of Social Sciences were among the esteemed panelists for the poster presentation session. When we had the chance to connect with Dr. Eva appreciated the Indian-ness of our content and our efforts of reaching out to children while Dr Maxine was very happy with our story cards.

Many others appreciated Pratham Books and the overall model of publishing. We hope with this, and with many other supporters we are a step closer to achieving our mission – a book in every child’s hand.

Sandhya Taksale

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pratham Books Champion : Zainab Sulaiman

For International Literacy Day (8th September), we had a dream - we wished that 100 people would volunteer to conduct storytelling sessions across the country. We ended up finding more than 250 champions to conduct storytelling sessions across the country. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

This story was sent by Zainab Sulaiman.
Zainab Sulaiman is a freelance writer, volunteer teacher at the Association for People With Disability and is a busy mother to two young children. She blogs on the simple joys, challenges and rewards of parenting at and can be reached at fatcatbangalore(at)yahoo(dot)com

The Reading at Shradhanjalli Integrated School (a part of the Association for People with Disabilities), 7th Sep '12

‘Good afternoon Miss!’ twenty-three small voices holler, as I walk into Standard Four at the Shradhanjali Integrated School, part of the Association for People with Disabilities.

I tell them that I am a Pratham Books Reading Champion and will read them an interesting story followed by a fun craft activity. I have also enlisted my brother and sister to help me and I quickly introduce them.

The kids are thrilled by this wonderful interruption and the class is soon abuzz with questions about the Pratham Books banner that we hang up against the black board.

As SIS is an integrated school and has children who are hearing impaired - as well as children with severe and multiple disabilities – I have requested their class teacher, Ms Kanchan, to use sign language to explain the story to the hearing impaired children.

We start without further ado and the kids are quickly hooked. The principal has been happy with the choice of book – it is set in an Indian context and is something the children can relate to – and soon hands are raised to answer questions about rangoli and pongal and trains (right on cue, a train passes by on the railway line that is just a couple of feet away from the class room; it’s ear-shattering whistle forces us to suspend all superfluous talk and reach for our ears).

The story ends with Susheela looking up at the night sky. I look at the kids and some of them have stars in their eyes as well; the story has been a hit.

We now hand each child an A4 sheet of paper with a kolam design printed on it, and they go to work. Sketch pens, sequins, ‘gum’, crayons, all are argued and fought over, and soon the class is a beehive of happy humming bees. Once done, the colourful kolam designs are then pasted on to homemade KG cardboard files that they can take home with them.

The afternoon passes in a blur of rushing to and fro, as indignant voices shout for help or fight over glue sticks or simply want someone to say ‘well done’.

‘Miss…gum Miss…’ Maula grumbles at me as I walk past him to steady Shashank - who has severe Cerebral Palsy – and who in his excitement, is getting rowdier by the minute.

‘Sit down Shashank!’ his class teacher says, her back to him; she doesn’t even look over her shoulder. Shashank promptly subsides and I am free to find Maula a glue stick.

Maula is severely disabled and is in a wheel chair. He can’t do much, though he understands simple stories and can just about make himself understood. Right now though, he’s holding onto a pink crayon for dear life, as my sister works with him on his kolam, every once in a while at the receiving end of his irritation – ‘Miss…not like that Miss!’

All too soon we are done and the children pose for pictures, holding their paper folders with the gaudy colourful kollams pasted on them high up in the air, their smiles flashier than the sequins glinting off their sticky fingertips.

‘Come back soon Miss!’ they yell as we say goodbye and I promise to be back soon with another story.

Thank you Zainab for spreading the joy of reading!

View more pictures from the International Literacy Day Celebrations.

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

The man who turned his home into a public library

Via BBC:

Hernando Guanlao is a sprightly man in his early 60s, with one abiding passion - books. They're his pride and joy, which is just as well because, whether he likes it or not, they seem to be taking over his house. 
Guanlao, known by his nickname Nanie, has set up an informal library outside his home in central Manila, to encourage his local community to share his joy of reading. The idea is simple. Readers can take as many books as they want, for as long as they want - even permanently. As Guanlao says: "The only rule is that there are no rules."

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Your big chance to spread the Joy of Reading!

The 'Joy of Giving Week' is here and as part of the  celebrations, Bangalore Cares presents an evening filled with lovely food and wonderful performances. A  Rs. 5000-donation gets you a free gourmet dinner  offered by celebrated chefs from Bangalore’s star restaurants. The money raised by Pratham Books will be used in developing books that will reach millions of children. 

The 'Joy of Giving Week' is India's "festival of giving"! Launched in 2009, the festival is celebrated every year, in the week beginning with Gandhi Jayanti, i.e., October 2-8, and brings together Indians from all walks of life, to celebrate "giving".

To spread the joy, email - or

Most people had a copy of My Mother in their hands!

(A post written by our colleague in Delhi, Rajesh Khar.)

When my colleague Manisha and I reached the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Center, New Delhi, the place was buzzing with activity, people were busy putting the final touches to the exhibits; there was smell of paint, paper, fabrics, adhesives in the air and a noise of drills, hammers and people talking everywhere in the hall. As the time approached closer to 6.30 in the evening, activities rose to a level of all time high and then within next ten minutes or so everything calmed down as if the crescendo of a musical piece had just been over.

We waited there along with five children from one of the Pratham Learning Centers and their two accompanying teachers quietly in a corner for the guests of honour to arrive. In the meantime, right where you walked in to the foyer of the gallery, a sales counter had come up and we caught first glimpses of our own My Mother spread across the table and glittering away in her bright colours! We all smiled big. The entire gallery was full of people in no time and by the time the guests arrived, that open space looked like a pond full of people.

Dr. Karan Singh, president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi appeared there suddenly and in no time I heard Jaya Jaitly, president of the Dastkari Haat Samiti greeting them and presenting them with souvenirs. I hurried towards the gathering along with two of the children and as we reached, Jaya invited the children over and asked them to present the guests with copies of our book. Children, Avinash and Bhoomi quickly went ahead and there they were with the three most distinguished persons of the evening! Avinash and Bhoomi presented a book each to Sheila Dixit and Dr. Karan Singh while Jaya Jaitly introduced Pratham Books very generously. She mentioned that Pratham Books was among the most prominent children's publishers and that they have been publishing beautiful books for children at very affordable prices. She thanked Pratham Books for publishing this book in six Indian languages and there by taking some of the works of art to the children of India. It felt so good to be there and to be able to be a part.

Both Sheila Dixit and Dr. Karan Singh unwrapped and held copies of our latest book, My Mother for the audience and the cameras. The illustrator,Bahadur Chitrakar of West Bengal was present and of course was called over to the front. He could not stop smiling with pride. The guests flipped through the book and spoke with the children with no hurry. After a battery of photographs and release of the book, they began to move to look at the exhibition. The exhibition has a collection of works of arts and crafts that were produced during this project called Akshara which involved artists and artisans of India in a unique interaction with various languages and calligraphy. Bahadur Chitrakar has painted a series of illustration in Pattachitra style about a typical day in her mother's life as seen from a child's eyes. These highly interesting and bright coloured illustrations form the base of the story that has been written by Jaya Jaitly after curating Bahadur's version of the story. Pratham Books turned this into a beautiful coffee table sized bilingual book where the English and one of the six languages out of Bangla, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Odia and Telugu form a pair together.

A number of artists and art lovers of Delhi were present and most of them were thrilled to buy a copy of the book right away. And why not? After all the book costs only rupees forty! Bahadur was so happy that he kept posing for pictures and it was an amazing sight to see most of the people walking around the gallery with copies of My Mother in their hands!

Monday, September 17, 2012

'Here Comes the Camel...' Poetry Contest!

We are thrilled to let you know that we've received over a 100 entries for the Poetry Contest! Each entry simply beats the other.

Our judges our burning the midnight oil going through each and every entry.

You'll have to hold on a little bit longer for the results and to find out who the lucky winners are!
We'll come back with an update by the end of this month.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Storytelling Session at Delhi on October 6th

Ukti is conducting a story telling session for children aged between 4 and 10 years on the 6th of October at Bahrisons Bookstore in Khan Market. Registration is necessary and details are available in the poster above. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pratham Books presents the artistic 'My Mother' in Delhi

Please click on the image for a larger view.

There's good news for all art lovers from 'Akshara Crafting Indian Scripts! Come and be a part of one of the finest art exhibitions ever.
The best of artifacts in art, craft and textile commissioned and curated by Jaya Jaitly will be on display for all to see.

And what's more! This well known artist has also added her charm to our newest title - 'My Mother'!
Don't forget to lookout for the Kalighat style of architecture, as it promises to be the perfect culmination of the Oriental and Occidental styles.

Venue: India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
Date: 16th to 21st September, 2012
Time: 10.00am - 11.00pm

'My Mother' - artistic expression in Delhi

Welcome to My Mother's world....and we won't be surprised if you want to wear a beautiful kantha-work saree or a hand-painted kurta to this exhibition!

Read more about the project that triggered the book here.

Hindi Divas: Namaskaar!

Namaskar!Today, September 14, is Hindi Divas. Was just editing an english story that had several 'said so-and-so's on a single page. And came upon the many alternatives that English allows (of, course, very few of these can be used in books for small children!). Ab, if you feel like a challenge, you could try finding how many variations you can come up for 'kahaa'- as in, "Chalo Hindi Divas manaate hain," kharghosh ne kahaa. Here is a list in English!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our Books Are Now Available Through MobileVeda

Thanks to the Creative Commons licenses on many of our books, we get to see new avataars of our books very often (Take a look at the exisiting avataars of our books). This time, MobileVeda is disseminating our content on their Mobile Content Publishing Platform Fublish -  Futuristic Publishing enabling print Publishers to instantly make digital versions onto the internet and popular Mobile platforms such as iPad/Android.

With the intent of enabling global readership, MobileVeda has converted our books so that can be used on mobile platforms and in English and regional languages.

Available via Fublish App @ Apple AppStore
& Android Store

So, try out these books and let us and the MobileVeda team know what you/your child think of them.

Learn more about MobileVeda and the work they do.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Celebrate International Literacy Day by Reading a Book

The day is finally here! It is International Literacy Day today and we can't tell you how excited we are. 250+ champions are joining us to celebrate International Literacy Day across the country. We have people conducting sessions with children in each and every state. Take a look at this map to see where all our champions are situated. Isn't that wonderful? 

And we've now figured out a way in which you can be a part of these celebrations.

If you want to organise an impromptu storytelling session on September 8th, you can download Susheela's Kolams in English, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu along with a suggested activity sheet from this link: You can read to your child or get all the kids in your apartment to come together at a place and tell them Susheela's story.

If you do organise a session, please send us a writeup of your session with pictures/video too? You can email us at web at prathambooks dot org - we promise we'll post it on our blog!

If you are on Twitter, share your updates by using the this hashtag - #PBChamps. 

We are updating all the pictures that champions are sending us on this page.

To attend public events that are happening in your city, take a look at this list.

Join Pratham Books and over 250 storytellers in all of India's 28 states as we weave a story that unites thousands of children in India on International Literacy Day

Friday, September 7, 2012

Reading Susheela's Kolams: Public Events you can Attend

We are happy to announce three story telling sessions of Susheela's Kolams in Bangalore, New Delhi and Pune on the 8th of September that you can attend! These are sessions that someone from Pratham Books will be at. 

For a full list of events across the country, please click here and for a list of all other public events you can attend, please click here

Invites below. Please click on them for a full size view. 

Bangalore: Urban Solace at 11:30AM

New Delhi: Protsahan Centre at 2:00PM | In collaboration with Toybank

Pune: Akshardhara Book Gallery at 6:00PM

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Celebrating International Literacy Day with 250+ Champions and Thousands of Kids Across India

It is almost a month since we put out a call for storytellers. We had an idea - an idea to get 100 people to volunteer and become Pratham Books Champions for International Literacy Day (8th September)! The champions would conduct storytelling sessions in their own villages, towns and cities. Then the plan grew - we wanted champions from each and every state.

At Pratham Books we have a dream, to see “A book in every child's hand”. We understand that to reach the 200 million + children in India is going to take a while. In the meantime, we decided to take 1 book, 1 story to as many children possible on a single day throughout the country.

We put up THIS POST on our blog and the responses slowly started trickling in. We wondered if our goal was too ambitious. Was one month enough to find all these champions? At times, it seemed like we wouldn't find these 100 champions. But we did! We actually ended up finding more than 100 champions. 

250+ Champions have signed up!
We have champions from each and every state of India!
Thousands of children are going to be listening to stories!!

We are still updating this list, but here's the list of our awesome champions

We can't express how AMAZING this is! Our office has been buzzing with energy - we've been calling so many people, explaining the concept, writing mails, choosing books, packing couriers (even the courier boy sat down and helped us pack couriers after seeing the numbers we were sending out).

We also hope to create a Limca record with this initiative in the hope that it brings to light the issues of joyful reading, access and multilingual publishing.

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

We will be sharing details about the sessions that are open to the public tomorrow. So, check back to see if there is a session that you can attend in your village/town/city.

All our champions will also be sharing details of their sessions through photos and blog posts.

Join Pratham Books and over 250 storytellers in all of India's 28 states as we weave a story that unites thousands of children in India on International Literacy Day (8 th September 2012).

Teachers of India Portal

The Azim Premji Foundation has launched a new version of the Teachers of India Portal. We took a brief look at the site and think it's a great resource for teachers and educators across the country. And content is available in five languages!

From the site:
The Teachers of India Portal aims to create a vibrant community of teachers through the sharing of knowledge and experience on a common platform. The range of teaching and learning resources available to teachers on the portal will enrich their knowledge of subject content and pedagogy, demonstrate new approaches to classroom practice and provide concrete support in the form of teaching/learning material. 
These resources will be generated by  teachers, teacher educators, partner organizations, education enthusiasts and members of Azim Premji Foundation. Your active participation in resource generation will play a very crucial role in making this a robust and dynamic space.
 Teachers of India Portal

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Teach Us Day

What do teachers do? Taylor Mali,poet, teacher, voice-over artist and humorist says it so well.Click here to see the video. This post is a dedication to all the people who teach us knowingly and unknowingly how to enrich not just our lives but of those around us. For all those who teach with humour, and patience and humility. For all those who share all that they have learnt with the rest of us.
Happy Teacher's Day! Image: Photograph by Ryan Lobo for Akshara Foundation,from Pratham Books photostream on

E-books Debut at Delhi Book Fair

Via The Times of India

This year's edition of the Delhi Book Fair has a lot in store for bibliophiles. In a first, the fair - which turned 18 this year - has e-books and web-based applications on display. That's not all. Visitors will also be treated to a unique film festival where movies based on Indian novels will be screened.

On the inaugural day of the fair, a number of publishers were seen promoting e-books and trying to get small and medium publishers to move towards digitising books. Vishv Books, a Delhi-based publishing house has recently launched various applications created for iPads and Android tablets. These applications have been developed for 10 books in the children's segment. "We are trying to make books as interactive as possible. The innovation will help parents read out stories to children from Android phones. We are mulling the addition of a new feature where the parent can record his/her voice to narrate the story ," said director, Vishv Books, Mudit Mohini.

Even e-book distributors were seen networking with publishers. OverDrive, a US-based digital distributor has put up a stall to woo small Indian publishers. "This year, a lot of Indian publishers have signed up with us. The number of Indian publishers moving to digitised versions has almost grown four times. But it is still modest compared to other countries. We thought the Delhi Book Fair would be the best platform to rope in more publishers," said business development executive (Europe and Asia), Johanna Brinton.

Read the entire article. 
And while you are at the book fair, don't forget to visit our stall. We are in Hall No- 12, Stall No- 10B, Pragati Maidan. Delhi. The fair is on till 9th September, 2012.

Free Books for Teachers' Day

Our friends at MangoReader are celebrating Teachers' Day by offering their interactive books for free on 5th and 6th September. Some of our books are also on their site. Hop on over to their site and download the books that you want.

Happy Reading!

Catch us at the Delhi Book Fair and the Publishing Next Conference

September is here, and in the world of books and publishing you will find us almost everywhere. Manisha Chaudhry chaired a session on 'Emerging Content Platforms' at the Publicon 2012 conference on 3rd and 4th September. But don't worry if you missed that event. You can still meet us at the following events:

We are bringing loads of books in Hindi and English. See you at the fair!
Dates : 1st - 9th September, 2012
Venue : Hall No- 12, Stall No- 10B, Pragati Maidan. Delhi


Our Managing Trustee, Suzanne Singh is participating in the second edition of the 'Publishing Next' conference. She is a panelist on the panel discussion called 'Marketing to a Young Audience - Getting children and adolescents to read'
Dates : 14th and 15th September 2012
Venue : Krishnadas Shama State Central Library, Panaji, Goa


We will also be celebrating International Literacy Day with 250+ Pratham Books Champions. We will post news about that event soon. So, stay tuned! We can't wait to share the details with you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Year of the Rat? Year of the Rabbit? No! It is the year of Priya Kuriyan! :-)

Out of the ten books that we published this quarter, Priya Kurian has illustrated six of those - five books from a series based on the Indian seasons called The Rituchakra Series written by our very own Mala Kumar and Manisha Chaudhry and a standalone book called Susheela's Kolams written by Sridala Swami. Jackpot eh? Let us just say that we hit a jackpot, having had the privilege of working with this gem of an illustrator. Oh, those wide eyed characters and such vibrant colours! All of us, very religiously dedicate at least ten minutes everyday, just to sit and stare at her illustrations. Well, I am not sure about the rest, but I do.

I declare that the world should know more about this wonderful fraud mallu
and her work.

When, where and why did you start illustrating?

The only thing I really liked to do as a kid was to draw. I was glad to finish with school and go to a place where I was expected to do nothing but that. I attended the fine arts course at Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda for a year and then joined NID, Ahmedabad, specialising in animation film making. Making an animation film involves conceptualising; thinking of the storyline, characters, etc. Creating 'Concept Art' is a part of this process, and involves imagining and illustrating various scenarios for the main characters of the film, using different visual techniques, mediums and treatments. A lot of ideas are generated. Not all the scenarios created are included in the film. I enjoyed this stage of the film making process immensely and my interest in illustrating books was really an outcome of this. Later, in my final year, I wrote to the people at Tulika books on a whim and they were kind enough to give me the chance to work on a sweet story about an elephant who forgets how to sleep. The book is called I'm so Sleepy and is written by Radhika Chadda.

Okay. So, do you remember what your very first illustration was? If you've kept it in-between a book or under your mattress perhaps, may we see it please? 

I'm sure my first illustration must have been a birthday card for my mom. We never made a big deal of birthdays, but a hand made card was a must on all occasions. Though she must have proudly displayed that card on our refrigerator for quite a while, I doubt if she liked it enough to keep it this long! :-) It is also likely, that it was a picture of her, since I believed there was no one prettier than her for miles! I wish I had kept some of those cards and drawings. We moved towns and cities almost every two years. So, a lot of stuff was bound to get lost. But my very first 'professional' illustration was that of Baby Bahadur and his mother from
I'm so sleepy. The idea that someone would actually print something I had drawn/made was so thrilling.

Your idol/idols and mentor/mentors?

Quentin Blake! I love his spontaneity and the slightly wicked sense of humour that his drawings have. Mario Miranda's work has always been a huge inspiration, with all its lovely detailing. Especially Miss Fonseca with her polka dotted frocks, among the other wacky characters that he made. Then there is Atanu Roy, a very senior illustrator who was kind enough to share his wonderful work with a bunch of wonder struck illustrators that included me. What struck me the most was his complete dedication to the craft, and the passion with which he practiced it. Other idols include Piet Grobler, Axel Scheffler and Manjula Padmanabhan!

Coming to mentors, I'll always be extremely grateful to some very good professors at NID. I also gained a lot of experience by working with people like Mr. Rammohan, who helped me with my diploma project, Mr. E Suresh and other co-workers from famous studios in Mumbai. They exposed me to many things that have definitely influenced my work as an illustrator.

Tell us about a few important/special projects that you've worked on previously.
I loved working on The fried frog by Sampurna Chattarji. Being a book of nonsense verse, I went completely wacky with the drawings. I've been illustrating for Roopa Pai's Taranauts series for about four years now. Another interesting project I worked on, was a book called Our Toxic World, written by Aniruddha Sen Gupta. It used the format of a graphic novel to talk about various toxins in the environment.
Whispers in the classroom, voices on the field, an anthology of school stories published by Wisdom tree, is very special to me. The editor, Richa Jha convinced me to do a visual piece for the anthology (called school daze), for which not only did I illustrate but I also wrote a little. The Pratham Books calendar is really special, simply because when I did it, I didn't expect it to reach so many parts of India, including Ladakh, and that so many kids will get to see it.

Aha! The calendar! Tell us more about that and the Rituchakra series that you worked on.
Sometime in November 2011, Pratham Books got in touch with me to see if I was interested in doing a calendar similar to the one that I had done earlier for Manipal press. I was thrilled, but there was very little time in hand and it would not have been possible to do a hand drawn set of twelve months in the available time. So I tried something that I hadn't tried before, which was vector based illustrations done entirely on a computer. I had no idea that the calendars would reach so many people and children. This makes me very happy.

The Rituchakra series was my first project with Pratham Books. I had read about the organisation, and was amazed by the fact that the books reached millions of children in remote parts of India and therefore, I was only too happy to hear from you. Five scripts were given to me, with the freedom to do what I wanted. My favourites are the autumn and winter stories, perhaps because they are my favourite seasons too! The authors took great care in helping me present subtle but important points; like a child walking in the garden should be barefooted or how a snowman in Shimla would look different from one outside the country. I also have to mention that the editors at Pratham Books are some of the most appreciative and encouraging! I must sheepishly admit that they are extremely patient too. As all the books were supposed to be done in a single season, I took the luxury of going through at least three seasons in order to finish the books. :)

Oh, well thanks. That we are, that we are! ;-)
Finally, out of all those colours that you use, what's your favourite?

This is by far the toughest question!!! I think I will say yellow... it makes me happy... no blue... Rani pink?? aaargh!

Read more interviews with Pratham Books authors and illustrators.