Right, so we like cinematic headlines, but we only use them when the news we're reporting is worthy of the drama. And since we've really found 50 ways to get into children's worlds in fifty days, this headline is justified! In April this year, we heard from Pratham, that they were interested in getting 50 books in Hindi for their libraries by July when schools reopen. Fifty new books - developed, translated, printed and dispatched - within months? But, ever ready for a challenge, we said yes.
Pratham was looking at distributing books in Hindi for all the projects in the states where they work such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan. They wanted some storycards too but were looking at more books for this project. These books would be for ages 4-8. In May, Pratham confirmed the order for 50 books – a mix of storycards, wordless stories, and storybooks in May. We started work in earnest immediately. Over several quick meetings with them, and many long planning session in-house, we had a list of books that we needed to get ready.
The zero-to-fifty race began. First, we accelerated some titles that we were already working on. Next, we converted some work-in-progress manuscripts into storycards. Some recently published bi-linguals, we tweaked. The wordless books would generally have taken the longest time to develop, as the illustration process is one of the longest stages in the life-cycle of a book. Fortunately for us, our #6Frame Story Challenge had just concluded, giving us access to the work of 76 illustrators. We showed the entries to Pratham, and they made their selection.
While 16 entries got made into wordless book, we wove stories around six entries, writing them almost simultaneously in English and Hindi. Thanks to the lovely work of these illustrators, writing stories around them was a pleasure. Our design team settled down to a feverish pace of doing the layouts. Soon, dummies were printed, colour corrections done, proofs read, and ...phew!
When school begins for thousands of children in July, they will have many colourful, lovingly-made books in their hands. The entire project is a testimony to what teamwork, focus and goodwill from the community around us can achieve. We do hope this will result in '50 ways to enter the joyful world of books'.
PS: Thanks to all the authors and illustrators and translators of the books that have gone into this 50. And to the new entrants to our family who've come in through the #6FrameStoryChallenge, take a bow Delwyn Remedios, Isha S Valentine, Jithin Jacob, Kavita Singh Kale, Ninoshka Dias, Nishith Mehta, Paneendra Suresh, Sweta Roy Choudhury, Megha Vishwanath, Niloufer Wadia, Preeti Lata, Rajiv Eipe, Shikha Nambiar, Soumya Menon, Vedavathi Narasimha Murthy, Krishna Prakash K, Sangeeta Das.