Monday, March 30, 2015

A Little Inspiration for the Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest

Are the exams over yet? Are the holidays here yet? Why? Because we are running our annual storytelling contest and we can't wait for you to send in your fun stories! The added incentive for this year is that we've introduced a 'collaborative category' thus allowing adults and kiddos to collaborate to create a story.

It has been ten days since we announced the contest and we've already received ten new stories. To help our readers get started, we shared a sample story written by our editor Mala Kumar :  - The Magic Puddle in Rubbakkadubukku’.

Not wanting to miss the fun, Shruthi H.S from our content team also weaved a story with the images provided to create 'The Land of Storyweavers' (No, Shruthi - you won't get any prizes ;p). We hope that Shruthi's fun story inspires you to  wear that author hat and get scribbling.

Learn how you can participate in the Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest.



Good luck everyone! Happy remixing!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Emerging Poets Prize by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective

Via The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective

Deadline: MAY 1, 2015.Final Judge: Jeet Thayil (poet, novelist & performance artist) Rs. 15,000 Prize 
The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective is a mentorship model literary press, bringing new poetic voices from India to the world. We are a not-for-profit, shared work literary press publishing and promoting poets with a connection to India/Indian diaspora. The Emerging Poets Prize will help nurture and bring out new poetic voices from India, the diaspora and those that have a meaningful connection to India. Up to three manuscripts will be chosen for publication, one by Jeet Thayil and the other two by the founding Collective poets. Manuscripts are judged anonymously and all finalists will be considered for publication. 
Winners will receive:
• Rs 15,000 (or equivalent in local currency)
• Publication of manuscript, with a minimum press run of 250
• 20 author copies
• A book launch
• Membership in The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective for two years 
About the Contest
The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective will select up to three manuscripts for publication. At least one of the manuscripts will be by a poet who lives and writes in India, and at least one manuscript will be by a woman. We reserve the right to publish no manuscript from the submission pool.
For more details and submission guidelines, click here.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Writing Books For Very Young Readers

Expo au Quai Angers
French children’s book author and editor Grégoire Solotareff shares his tips for creating books for very young readers.

Via Publishing Perspectives

In the tradition of Maurice Sendak or Leo Lionni (both of whom are published in translation by l’école des loisirs), Solotareff’s 200+ books for children, which he has been writing and illustrating for 30 years, continue to dwell in a magical and quirky universe. 
One shouldn’t create books just to make them. You need to be passionate about it. At first you are shy and afraid of rejection. You’re not always confident. But you do need to be convinced about your work, you need to like it and want to do it. This is the first quality you need when you present a book to a publisher and say “This is what I do and what do you think?” 
You need to present a finished project. A few images and a vague idea are not enough. In order to give yourself a chance, you should ask yourself this question:
Am I made for this? Is it just an idea among others, or is it a real desire? 
The book you make should be a book that does not yet exist. Your idea must be original. A book is made of pages that turn and you need to give children the desire to turn the pages and discover what is next. 
Once your idea has been formulated then you need to deconstruct it. Young children’s books need images and the text comes in to help the images, but the images are what are most important. The texts need to be simple — not necessarily with simple vocabulary, but it needs to lead the child into the narration. Ideas can come from every day life. Then there’s a spark that makes you want to invent the story. All ideas are possible but you should always keep in mind who your readers are: children. At the same time, a good children’s book should be attractive to everyone. You can speak about most everything to children: it can be what you’d like to speak to your own children about. You need to make sure that the idea interests children. The book can’t just be a pretext for nice illustrations.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

#DrawDisability

We came across the #DrawDisability on Twitter and it immediately made us think of our book 'Chuskit goes to School'



Via GLOBI - Observatory

The campaign has two main goals:
  • to encourage dialogue and raise awareness on disability and related issues among teachers and students within educational environments
  • to create a global art project focused on disability
Schools from all over the planet are encouraged to get involved in the project. Teachers can use the #DrawDisability guidelines to promote critical reflections and awareness on disability within the classroom. Children with and without disabilities are encouraged to #DrawDisability. Drawings can portray their understanding and feelings towards disability and related issues, such as accessibility, inclusion and discrimination. The best drawings will be showcased at the World Education Forum in May 2015 in Incheon, South Korea, and the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP-CRPD) in June 2015 in New York, USA. The deadline for all submissions will be July 15, 2015 after which date, the general public will be invited to vote their favorite drawings on-line. The 60 most voted drawings by the public will be shortlisted and a designated jury will then select the 30 best drawings. The final selection of 30 artworks will be exhibited on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. 

View the entire gallery of images

You can also read or download our book 'Chuskit goes to school' in multiple languages.

Image Source : GLOBI - Observatory

Roald Dahl on Writing for Children

Roald Dahl shares why and how he started writing for children, the difficulties of writing for children and more. 


Roald Dahl says he began writing for children for, “More or less the usual reason which is that one has one’s own. I tried to tell a story at night, a made up story, most of them pretty bad, but now and again you tell one when you see a little spark of interest and it is there the next night and they said tell us more about that thing…you know you had got something there. This went on about a peach that got bigger and bigger and I thought why do I not write it and I did…the well is running dry now…”
Read more about his work and life in this article on The Hindu

Pratham Books welcomes its new CEO: Himanshu Giri


Pratham Books is in its 11th year of inception and as we gear up to take on challenges of the new decade, we are excited to welcome Himanshu Giri to his new role as our Chief Executive Officer.


Himanshu has been with Pratham Books since 2009 as its Chief Operating Officer and has worked on a number of exciting projects and programs to fulfill our mission of “A book in every child’s hand”. Prior to that, he has spent two decades in the fields of publishing, sales, operations and marketing with organizations like Thomas Cook and Scholastic Inc. He brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge, both in the publishing as well as the service industry. 


Commenting on his new role, Himanshu said, “ I am delighted to take on the responsibilities of my new role and look forward to continuing to fulfill the mission of the organization. We, at Pratham Books, believe that every child should have access to joyful reading material and have always looked for innovative solutions to provide more books to more children. We will continue to take the lead on this by using new strategies like digital technology and community based initiatives to help build a reading nation”. 


Extending her wishes to Himanshu Giri on his new role, Ms. Suzanne Singh, Chairperson, Pratham Books said: “ We are extremely proud of what Pratham Books has achieved over the last decade by spreading the joy of reading to millions of children in India. As we move ahead in our journey of reaching ‘every child’, we will explore new technologies to create more access to good quality children’s content. We are pleased that Himanshu, who has been an integral part of the Pratham Books team, will be our CEO and lead the organization in its next phase”. 





The Pratham Books team welcomes Himanshu Giri to his new role.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Indian Poetry in English Goes Mainstream

Mayank Austen Soofi on how Indian poetry in English is becoming part of the mainstream.

Via livemint

Poems
Fancy giving somebody Rs.2 lakh because you like their poetry? That’s exactly what happened this year at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Arundhathi Subramaniam received the inaugural Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry for her collection, When God Is A Traveller.


Indian poetry in English, which began in the 1820s, has produced its own share of canonical poets. Even so, Indian writing in English has mainly meant prose. That seems to be changing. “You’d be surprised at the number of people reading poetry nowadays,” says Seth. “Once we announced the award, we were flooded with applications, which show that more and more of us are dabbling in verse.”

The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a publishing venture founded by a troika of Bengaluru poets in 2013, has recently announced an Emerging Poets Prize. The three winners will be awarded Rs.15,000 each; their manuscripts will be published with a minimum print run of 250 copies; and there will also be a book launch.

Two decades have passed. Indian English poetry is regaining its vigour. While Narayanan is waiting a little longer to celebrate, Shikha Malaviya, co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, is ready to bring out the champagne. “Indian poetry has never been more lively or diverse,” she says. “Even traditional publishers like HarperCollins are publishing more poets.” She notes that Slam poetry (competitive performances) has also drawn many younger people. 

Much is discovered on the Internet these days, and poetry is no different, says Jaideep Warya, a landscape architect and poet who recently moved from New Delhi to London. “It is impossible to hear of a new poet through newspapers or TV. But when reading someone’s brief bio at the end of an opinion piece, you see it mentioned that the person also writes poetry, and then you google his poems. If you like these accidentally discovered poets, then you follow them online or order their books on the websites.”

A BookStore and Artistic Space in Chennai

Akila Kannadasan tells us about Panuval - a bookstore as well as artistic space in Chennai.

On first sight, the room beyond the rows and rows of books at Panuval Bookstore in Thiruvanmiyur, makes one wonder why three IT professionals in their 30s, who’ve started the venture, have left an empty space in their bookshop. But this is Panuval’s USP — a space that “connects readers with writers”. 
Started in 2013 by friends P. Amutharasan, S. Saravanan, and K. Mugunthan, Panuval, meaning ‘book’ in Tamil, hopes to transform the concept of bookstores from shops to merely pick up books, to a place to meet authors, discuss, read, and celebrate the arts. 
But the Web world had its limitations — they could hardly interact with readers. Soon, a search was on to rent a space that would nurture good books and a community for readers.  
“A book bears a life inside it,” says Amutharasan. “It has to convey something to society. These are the kind of books that we want to provide. A reader with such tastes will not need to learn self-help and spirituality from books, which is why you won’t find them at our bookstore,” he adds. In the three years of its existence, Panuval has held various literary events at its premises — ‘Bharathi 93’ in association with Kalachuvadu magazine, in which they observed the poet’s 93rd death anniversary with readings and discussions on his poems on topics such as women’s empowerment and society; film screenings, including that of Balu Mahendra’s magnum opus Veedu in the presence of the director; author interactions, book launches… they’ve even had a play staged amidst their books. Panuval has turned a platform for other film and book clubs to hold events as well. “There will be some event or the other on the weekends every week,” says Saravanan.

Ecologist Madhav Gadgil Wins Prestigious Tyler Prize

We are thrilled to share that Dr. Madhav Gadgil (one of our authors) is the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Our hearty congratulations to this dedicated environment scientist. 

Sandhya Taksale (editor, Pratham Books) tells us more ...

Dr. Madhav Gadgil has authored a story 'Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth' for Pratham books.

Dr. Gadgil’s landmark report on the preservation of the unique ecosystem of the Western Ghats and the inclusion of local committees was especially noted as the reason behind his award. Also, he was a driving force behind the crafting of India's National Biodiversity Act.

Madhav Gadgil thinks that empowering people is the key. According to him "We must engage local people who are most directly affected by policies if we want to develop policies that promote sustainability."

This prize is awarded by the International Tyler Prize Executive Committee with the administrative support of the University of Southern California. Dr. Gadgil will share this $200,000 cash prize with noted American marine ecologist Dr. Jane Lubchenco.

While making the announcement of the prize, Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair person said, "Drs. Lubchenco and Gadgil represent the very best in bringing high-quality science to policymaking to protect our environment and ensure the sustainability of natural resources in their respective countries and around the world. Both of these laureates have bridged science with cultural and economic realities."

It is quite true that Dr. Gadgil is an accomplished academician but his work is not limited to those circles only. As a champion of the environmental cause, he works with people and deals with various on ground issues related to this field. Through his public speaking and writing, he has put many environmental issues on the national radar. He writes columns in both English and Marathi newspapers. His Marathi language and style of writing is quite engaging. He uses simple language. He has even coined some wonderful Marathi words for technical words or expressions in English. He never uses English terminology while writing in Marathi. Writing on scientific issues in regional languages, without losing the flavor and charm of that language is very rare and hence commendable. 


No wonder, he writes for children. In 'Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth' he deals with a forest issue and talks about safeguarding rock bees. This content comes to children through a wonderful story. During the book launch of 'Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth', he talked about how he started writing for kids. He said, "My grand-daughters always ask me to come up with new bed-time stories and what I know thoroughly is animals and plants. So, I thought I must create a character who could be the protagonist of all my stories."

It was then that Dr. Gadgil conceptualized Muchkund. "I wanted a character rooted in mythology, perhaps a spirit or a ghost, which could assume the form of any animal and consequently speak their language. And once the character was set, I embarked on weaving stories based around it."

Read this interview of Dr.Madhav Gadgil to learn more about his work and how he created this book.

The story, 'Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth' has been published by Pratham Books in five languages and you can download it for free.

बधाई हो : संजीव जायसवाल 'संजय' जी को ''श्री अमृतलाल नागर बाल कथा साहित्य सम्मान' से नवाज़ा गया

19.3.15 को उत्तर प्रदेश हिंदी संस्थान के अध्यक्ष श्री उदय प्रताप सिंह , निदेशक श्री सुधर अदीब व पूर्व निदेशक श्री विनोद चंद पांडे ने यह सम्मान संजीव जायसवाल 'संजय' को प्रदान किया 
जब जब हमारे लेखक मित्रों की सफलता की खबर मिलती है तो हम फूले नहीं समाते हैं।सबसे ताज़ी खबर सुन कर तो हमें लगा कि हम में पहलवानजी का सा दम भर गया है और दिल में गप्पू जैसी मस्ती भी छा गयी है!

जाने माने लेखक श्री संजीव जायसवाल 'संजय' जी को 'श्री अमृतलाल नागर बाल कथा साहित्य सम्मान' से नवाज़ा गया। संजीव जी की लेखनी के जादू से हम और हमारे लाखों नन्हे पाठक पहले से ही वाक़िफ़ हैं। पहलवानजी , राजा का दर्द, वह हँस दिया जैसी लोकप्रिय पुस्तकों के रचयिता संजीव जी हमेशा बच्चों के लिए कुछ नया लिखने को तत्पर रहते हैं। सृजन की ऊर्जा से ओत प्रोत उन्होंने बच्चों व बड़ों दोनों के लिए बहुत कुछ लिखा है। हमारी ओर से बहुत बहुत बधाई! आशा है की आप यूँ ही सब पाठकों का मन लुभाते रहेंगे।

 
यह भी पढ़ें : साहित्य के दस साहित्यकार 19 को होंगे सम्मानित

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

RivoKids Parents and Kids Choice Awards 2015

RivoKids is back with the second edition of the 'Parents and Kids Choice Awards' (PKCA) 2015. Last year our own book 'Aaloo Maaloo Kaaloo' was among the top 3 books in the 'Indian books' category (as voted by the community). Here's your chance to tell the world about your favourite book by Pratham Books as well as recommend other delightful books, games, toys, etc.

“Parents and Kids Choice Awards (PKCA) is a platform to let your choice be heard, not governed by sales, popularity, or the message hidden in it, but simply determined by them making a special place in your hearts and your lives”, said Ritu M Uberoy and Parul A Mittal, Co-founders of RivoKids.com
In first phase, Parents and Kids can nominate their child’s favourite Books by Indian and International authors and Kids Movies in different age brackets. They can also nominate their favourite brand of Made in India Games, Subscription boxes, Activity Toys, Activity and Learning centres, Mobile Apps, Kids Events and Exhibitions, Kids Magazines and Newspapers, Online Education platforms and Digital Innovation in Kids Space.
This nomination by public allows for discovery of the new and novel entrants in the kids space. It also offers an opportunity for a small brand to get highlighted because a specific child or parent loves it. 
In second phase, a shortlist of nominations goes for voting openly by the whole wide web. The Rivokids.com platform’s safety checks ensure there is no rigging of votes and a brand cannot vote for itself hundreds of times. 
The final winners emerge by April end, just in time to guide parents choose the right products to meaningfully engage their kids during summer holidays.
Find more details here. The exciting bit is that you also stand to win book hampers and prizes by nominating your favourites.


You can nominate only till 30th March, 2015. Hurry!

Image Source : RivoKids

Helping Your Child Discover A New World Through Storytelling

Neeti Sarkar talks to two storytellers about storytelling and using it as a tool to connect to children.

Via The Hindu
According to Aparna Athreya, founder of the Bangalore-based Kid and Parent Foundation, “Storytelling is a window of discovery for a child. Stories can have within it culture, tales of magical beings, description of faraway lands, and so much more. Storytelling is the next best thing to actually experiencing reality because a story takes you, and in this case, a child, to where the story belongs. When storytelling is employed, a child’s learning readiness also increases. While today’s children might take more to new-age media, it’s about time we reinvent the art of storytelling. One of the biggest benefits of storytelling is that parents and children get to bond so well over it.” 
Deeptha conducting a storytelling session as a #PBChamp
Deeptha Vivekanand, founder of Ever After and founding member of the Bangalore Storytelling Society, says: “For starters, you could tell family stories. If you have the means, research about your roots. Your own life is a treasure trove of stories. Turn these events into compelling stories.” “A parent knows his/her child best and therefore it is important for parents to capitalise on their knowledge of a child to tell a story. Use characters that appeal most to your child. While some kids may like superheroes, others may enjoy magical creatures. Make your child the hero of your story. In this way, he might even complete your story and you are pushing his creative boundaries to do so. Make storytelling as sensorial as possible. Talk of various tastes, smells, emotions, make your story a visual treat,” Aparna suggests. 
Many parents get away with reading a book to their children and presume that’s storytelling but Deeptha says, “Reading is not storytelling. It is meant to convey an idea simply through the medium of speech. While books are great sources for stories, simply reading from them cannot create the same experience as when the story is told. If you wish to use a story from a book, as a teller, first tell the story to your audience and then bring out the book as this will help listeners imagine the story on their own. Remember, visualisation is the cornerstone of storytelling.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Aksahara Foundation!

Today Akshara Foundation is celebrating its anniversary, and we're thrilled to have been part of the celebrations. Fifteen years of working to see 'every child in school, and learning well'! Fifteen years of working to improve balwadis and anganwadis, to set up libraries in government schools and remote areas of Karnataka.

We congratulate each and every member of Akshara Foundation for putting their heart and soul into their work here. Congratulations! What with March 20 also being the UNESCO specified International Happiness Day, and a wonderful lunch, we're just so happy to have Akshara Foundation as our friend and 'house-mates'!

Here's a timely article in The Better India that gives a glimpse of how Akshara prescribes education for our children's future survival! See how children in a government school are making robotic devices.

Image credits: Illustration by Mayur Mistry for the book 'Rani's First Day at School'. 

Cook Up Stories with the Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest


Today is World Storytelling Day and if you've been following our work, you will know that it is also time for our annual Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest. The contest started in 2010 and every year we wait to see the new remixes our community will come up with.  Did you know that one of the submissions to our contest even got selected, tweaked and published by another publisher. Awesome right? Ok, off you go ... put on your thinking caps and send us your whacky remixed story.

Here's your chance to wear that author hat and get scribbling (or typing if you prefer!).

What you need to do: Check available illustrations. Choose 8-10 illustrations ONLY (don't count the cover page illustration) and remix them. Cook up a wonderful new story. Write your story and email it to us. Be creative, be original!

If in doubt, take a look at the sample story written by our editor Mala Kumar - ‘The Magic Puddle in Rubbakkadubukku’.

The first prize winner gets a printed, laid-out version of the winning story. 

Click here to download the illustrations, contest rules and the remixed book, all at one go.

Contest guidelines
  • Contest will be for three categories : Above 16 years,  below 16 years and a collaborative category. The collaborative category can be between an adult and child, an adult and few kids, only children, etc
  • You can send in your entries in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil or Urdu.
  • The theme for this year’s World Storytelling Day is ‘wishes’. You can choose to use/not to use this theme in your story - it is optional.
  • Please use only 8-10 illustrations for your story (excluding the cover picture).
  • When you create your story, please include the images you are using along with the text you write.
  • You are free to send in multiple stories.
  • Please send your entries in PDF, Word or Power Point format to contest@prathambooks.org along with your name, age, language of entry, category of entry with the email subject line as “The Retell, Remix, Rejoice contest”
  • The contest deadline has been extended  to 30th April, 2015
  • Results will be announced on our blog and website on or before May 31, 2015.
  • Got any queries? Email us at web@prathambooks.org
*By submitting your work you agree to a “Creative Commons – Attribution license” (CC-BY) being applied to it. While we encourage participation from all countries, prizes shall be couriered only within India.

In case the winning entry is not from India, we will lay out the book and send you a high res pdf to print locally.

** All the stories will also be the first community stories to go on to our upcoming story publishing platform 'StoryWeaver'



Good luck everyone! Happy remixing!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Book That Shows Its Emotions

A little experiment where a book shows its emotions through its cover. A good way for books to motivate you to pick them up and read/re-read them :)

Via Design Taxi

Playing on the idea of emotions, the team created a phosphorescent cover that creatively reveals the book’s “emotions” layer by layer.  
When the user spends more time holding and flipping through the book, its cover starts to reveal its colorful layers to show how “happy” it is. The book cover will “slowly become sad” and fade to black when it is placed back on the shelf

Talking About the Concept of Death Through Children's Books

Yamini Vijayan writes about the difficulty of explaining the concept of death to children, and ways in which reading books can help. In this article she also examines questions that children ask parents, how parents talk about death with their children as well as books being aids to talk about this topic.


As someone who has been heavily moulded by literature, I do believe that stories can be powerful tools when it comes to helping children interpret the world around them. Explaining death to children can be quite daunting and often, you’ll find that it’s easier using stories as a starting point for discussion. While several children’s books contain traces of death, I have tried to include books in which death has had a stronger presence.
Let me begin with the death of animals and birds, a common theme in children’s literature. Several teachers and parents I’ve spoken to feel that this is perhaps a gentler way to ease children into the reality of loss.

While speaking to a friend of mine – an expert librarian – about this subject, she pointed out to another aspect of loss I hadn’t yet deeply thought about: seeing your loved ones cope. To illustrate this painful aspect, she read aloud this passage from Ruskin Bond’s Angry River in which a girl learns about her grandmother’s death: “But even as she spoke, she knew that Grandmother was no longer with them. The dazed look in the old man’s eyes told her as much. She wanted to cry – not for Grandmother, who could suffer no more, but for Grandfather, who looked so helpless and bewildered; she did not want him to be unhappy.”


Yamini also adds our own book 'My Two Great-Grandmothers' to the list of books that can be used to talk about death. She states that it is "An evocative book filled with lush descriptions and vivid illustrations, this is about a child’s relationship with her two great-grandmothers, one from Norway and the other from Gambia." (disclaimer : Yamini works with Pratham Books). Find her entire list here.

Additional reading :
Consolation for Life’s Darkest Hours: 7 Unusual and Wonderful Books that Help Children Grieve and Make Sense of Death

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pratham Books Week on Indian Moms Connect

The lovely folks at Indian Moms Connect are celebrating Pratham Books Week from 16th-20th March by reviewing our latest books. 


They've started the Pratham Books week by reading 'Rani's First Day at School' ( written by Cheryl Rao and illustrated by Mayur Mistry).

The book aptly captures the mood of a child going to school for the first time. It’s a book to be definitely read aloud to a kindergarten going kid as it will make them realise that all kids have some hesitation going alone for the first time and that is absolutely normal the language is easy enough for kids to read on their own.
Illustrations are apt for the text and I loved the Indianness of the figures. The colourful sarees, scooters, old uncle in dhotis all make the story come alive. Rani’s facial expressions are so wonderfully depicted.
Read the entire review.
Buy the book
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The second book that got featured was 'What Shall I Wear Today?' (written by Natasha Sharma and superbly illustrated by Tanvi Choudhury).
Natasha Sharma uses simple words with a poetic feel to the sentences. I could so relate to the shirt buttons troubling, pants being tight, chudidar not going up and the zari irritating! She has captured the nuances of the clothes and their issues too well  
And the illustrations are truly awesome. Tanvi Choudhury could actually go on to be a fashion designer. The color combinations and little details like threads to the pyjama or design on the choli are so noteworthy. The brat even noted the changes in the expression of the little girl as she tries to figure out what to wear. 
The 6 yo in the house laughed after reading it saying Amma this always happens to me na!
Read the entire review.
Buy the book
**********


The IMC team reads 'The Red Raincoat' and goes on to say :
The Red Raincoat published by Pratham Books, written by Kiran Kasturia and illustrated by Zainab Tambawalla is a simple, sweet and heart warming story about Manu who has a new red raincoat. 
The book has a slight twist in the tale that made us smile. The 6 year old in house and I read it aloud and giggled through the book as Manu keeps waiting for the rains. ‘Poor Manu’sighed the brat at least three times through the book. 
Short sentences, simple words and lucid language make the book an easy read for children. It’s a wonderful way to teach children the days of the week as everyday Manu keeps asking his mom about the rains. It also teaches children in a subtle way how to know when it’s going to start raining like when dark clouds gather. 
The illustrations enhance the reading experience and the colors make the book come alive. Manu’s disappointment at not seeing the clouds, his anticipation waiting for the rains and his joy are all captured beautifully.
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Veeru Goes to the Circus (written by Richa Ingle Deo and illustrated by Reshma Barve) is a story about Veeru who comes back from the Jumbo-Mumbo Circus with some very big ideas.
Simple words coupled with the wonderful imagination of the author make the book a lovely read for children. The author has managed to capture all the special acts of the circus and connected it in a way or other with how Veeru performs at home. I loved Veeru’s juggling act. 
The illustrations are lovely. Check out how Reshma Barve manages to change Veeru’s facial expressions in every page. Colourful and vibrant colours make the book a page turner. 
Recommended for its imagination and fun element.
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No Smiles Today (written by Cheryl Rao and illustrated by Saurabh Pandey) tells the story of Shanti, the ever cheerful little girl who suddenly stops smiling one day.
Shanti and Arun are the best of friends and go to school together. Shanti is always laughing and smiling. But one morning, she is very quiet. She doesn’t smile or open her mouth.

Cheryl Rao manages to make us smile at the end of the story. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive when I read the title of the story, but reading the book made me laugh. The six year old in the house laughed loudly when she read the ending. Simple words which are easy to read let the child read on her own. 
The illustrations are simple yet very effective. I loved the small changes in Shanti’s facial expressions as the book progresses. The illustrations capture the mood of the book brilliantly.
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My Best Friend (written by Anupa Lal and illustrated by Suvidha Mistry) is a bilingual book about a little girl who has a very special friend.
Anupa Lal writes an adorable story that makes us smile. The Hindi words are simple and the six year old in the house was able to read it with a bit of prompting from my end. The advantage of a bilingual book, at least in our house, is that the brat sees the English words thinks of its Hindi equivalent and then pronounces the Hindi word in case it’s difficult to read. 
The illustrations are elegant and compliment the words. I loved the cover page and the naughty expression of the little girl’s friend on the last page.
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The Auto That Flew (written by Ken Spillman and illustrated by Ajanta Guhathakurta) is a delightful and yet profoundly philosophical picture story book about Arjun the Auto who rides in the streets of Delhi.
Ken Spillman has added a slight philosophical twist to the story although the writing is simple and fun to read. Delhi’s landmarks are pointed out while the calmness even in the chaotic traffic has been described so well. What we really wish in our minds may not be our truest wishes and often superficial wishes supersede what we think make us happy  
I love Ajanta Guhathakurta’s illustrations and she does a wonderful job with this book. The quirky expressions of Arjun, the landmarks of Delhi, the zig zagging roads from the air, the expressions of the birds when they see a flying auto everything is captured so well.
Read the entire review. There is an added treat with the review - an audio version of the story!
Buy the book
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I Want That One (written by Mala Kumar and illustrated by Soumya Menon) is an adorable book of a little boy Anil who keeps wanting stuff but everyone keeps saying no to him.
Anil has a holiday and he wants to do ‘something’. (This resonated so well in our house where the six year old wants to do something all the time!) So he tries to climb up and get the bottom most box down from the attic. Before he can do it, his mom stops him from doing so. Anil is angry. Then his mom takes him to the market. Anil keeps pointing out stuff from the bottom of the pile saying ‘ I want that one’.

Mala Kumar weaves her magic with a simple but very effective story. Easy to read words and a sense of pattern in the reaction of the shopkeepers to Anil make the book a lovely read aloud book. I loved the ending of the book and this is a wonderful way to make young kids realise that things may not really happen the way they expect! 
Soumya Menon does a superb job with the illustrations which are colourful and vibrant. Check out how she shows Anil’s expression getting angrier by the page. He looks adorably cute in the end.
Buy the book
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Under My Bed (written by Anupa Lal and illustrated by Suvidha Mistry) is a bilingual book, about a little kid who finds something lurking under his bed.
Simple words which are easy to read make the book just appropriate for children to be either read aloud or start reading on their own. The Hindi words are also easy enough for beginners to start reading. The brat who has just started reading Hindi was able to read the book on her own without much help. The twist in the tale made her giggle and she was went ‘ How funny, Amma!’ 
The illustrations are splendid and so amazingly done. Night is depicted in a deep colour and facial expressions of the child seem amazingly convincing. The illustrations go on to enhance the text. 
The book has a nice feel good feeling to it with a lovely ending. Go on and pick it up.
Buy the book
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Grandma’s Glasses (written by Noni and illustrated by Tanaya Vyas) is a sweet story about a little girl who becomes a detective to find her Grandma’s glasses.
It’s adorable that the author has taken up a daily occurrence in most households and turned it into a detective sort of story. The book will make kids giggle at how Richa traces the glasses. The six year old in my house was laughing away as we read the book together.

The illustrations are bright and vibrant and enhance the storyline.I loved the illustration on the last page. It captures the nuances so very well. 
Recommended for the fun and the mystery element

Friday, March 13, 2015

Announcing the Winners of the #6FrameStoryChallenge (*Drum Roll Please*)

Image : Prashant Miranda
This year feels marvellous already and we are thrilled to see the power of involving the community in our work. January and February flew by in a carnival of art at Pratham Books. Our lives were made twice as colourful with the arrival of bears, dragons, rainbows, rivers and all sorts of lovely things through the #6FrameStoryChallenge. It's March now and we're still heady from the visual rush thanks to our generous illustrator community. We received 68 visual stories (+ 8 more from the Illustrator Gurus) and can't begin to tell you how pleased we are with the diversity in illustration styles. From watercolour and collage, to black and white sketches and digital art – we've got it all!

The core idea of the #6FrameStoryChallenge was to create a rich illustration bank for StoryWeaver - Pratham Books' upcoming story publishing platform - which aims to be a digital repository of open licensed, multilingual children's stories. A collaborative platform - this will enable users to read, translate, remix and create stories. It's heartening to know that so many talented illustrators have donated their artwork to us and in turn contributed to our mission – 'A Book in Every Child's Hand'.

In the 1980s and 90s, the National Book Trust had published a few precious wordless picture books. Over the last decade, we haven't seen as many of these being published in India and so the time seems ripe for this flood of beautiful wordless stories. Not only will these stories cut across language barriers, but they will also inspire young readers to weave their own stories around the illustrations, offering ample room for multiple re-imaginings and unique perspectives.

In fact, while choosing words for our 'Word Wishlist', we sat down to think about what we'd like to see more of in our children's books: 'Fish rain' and 'Another Planet' were added to encourage whimsy; 'Tree-planting man' and 'Vulture' from the environmental point of view; 'Idli' and 'Holi' for a touch of Indianness, etc. But nothing had prepared us for the incredible way in these words emerged after being tossed, blended and garnished in the illustrator's imaginative mind. Evidently, illustrators across the country have been waiting for an opportunity to tell their own stories and the result has been nothing short of mind-blowing. Can you believe that we had entries pouring in till the very last second before the contest closed? Ah, more such good times to come!


You can't imagine our excitement at finally being able to reveal the winners of the #6FrameStoryChallenge. We are delighted to declare our top three favourite entries. Congrats Archana Sreenivasan, Niloufer Wadia and Jithin Jacob! Your 6-frame stories were selected by our Illustrator Gurus from an eclectic and amazing collection of visual narratives, and you have every reason to feel proud. The entries were judged mainly based on the quality of illustrations and the effectiveness of their sequential narratives. All three stories were also massive hits on social media and you can see why.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of an underwater birthday party, Archana Sreenivasan's shrewd idli and poor ol' cactus left us in a fit of giggles. Niloufer Wadia's juggling granny inspired so many comments (from fellow illustrators) such as, “This is brilliant!” and “I want this book!” And not only can Jithin Jacob make crying babies smile, he can also create adorable characters as you may have noticed in his memorable 6-frame story. Winners, we really hope that this experience has inspired you to illustrate many such amazing children's stories. As promised, we will be getting awesome authors Natasha Sharma, Mala Kumar and Manisha Chaudhry to weave text around these winning illustrations and these will be published on StoryWeaver. So do watch out for the launch of StoryWeaver, our plunge into the deep waters of digital!

And to end this post on a bright and optimistic note: all the illustrations (450+) created for the #6FrameStoryChallenge will be licensed under CC-BY (one of the most open Creative Commons Licenses) and will be available soon on StoryWeaver. And for this, we must thank the participants of the #6FrameStoryChallenge who spent time and effort bringing these enchanting stories to life.

You can view all the stories and illustrator interviews here or head over to the collection of stories on our Scribd account.

(Note: Although Rajiv Eipe was one of our Illustrator Gurus, he wasn't part of the selection process as his wife happened to be one of the participants of the #6FrameStoryChallenge.)

If you've been following the #6FrameStoryChallenge and would like to tell us what you think of it, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/prathambooks.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Children's Literature in India on Kitaabnama

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose talks to Manisha Chaudhry (head of content development at Pratham Books) and Anushka Ravishankar (Duckbill Books) about Children's Literature in India. The segment covers the growth of children's literature, how Manisha and Anushka got into the world of publishing, multilingual publishing, creating books for new readers and unreached audiences, work done by other publishers, embracing Creative Commons and digital platforms/formats as alternative modes of delivery.


Once you've finished watching the above segment, pair it with this video from Kitaabnama which features Justice Leila Seth and Manisha Chaudhury.

India Public Libraries Conference

The India Public Libraries Conference (IPLC) 2015 is being held on 17th-18th March, 2015 (9.30am-6pm) at India International Centre, New Delhi.

Purvi Shah from Pratham Books will also be talking about our upcoming open source platform at the ‘e-Content and ICT-enabled services for communities in the future’ session on 17th March at 4:45 pm.

Via IPLC

The India Public Libraries Conference (IPLC) 2015 is a multi-stakeholder engagement that seeks to convene and engage librarians and library stakeholders including policy makers to dialogue and share experiences and lessons in public libraries in India. It seeks to arrive at a broad understanding of challenges and opportunities of how public libraries in India are and can contribute in overall development of communities with value added services, and collaboratively build a shared vision for the future as community oriented knowledge and resource centres of the 21st century. National and international best practices are being invited to arrive at this learning, knowledge, understanding and collaboration.

This stems from our recognition of Public Libraries playing a vital role in the lives of individuals and their communities. For generations, the local libraries have acted as a vehicle for access to knowledge, ideas and information and as democratic services open and available to anyone. The public library is not only a trusted and recognised feature of the local area; it is also a remarkable national asset and network.

Objectives
  • To envision the role and the functioning of public libraries in India to respond and meet the changing needs of communities.
  • To identify and propose the most suitable and sustainable public library models for India.
  • To recommend directions that would help to facilitate a more proactive public library system with global standards and parameters applicable to Indian conditions.
View more details about the conference. Register here.

Image credit : IPLC website

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

That's What Friends Are For - Nilomee Jesrani's Story for the #6FrameStoryChallenge

For the past one and a half months, our blog has been exploding with colours, illustrations and a whole lot of inspiration (all thanks to the participants of the #6FrameStoryChallenge). We have finally come to the final entry that we received (but this is really just the beginning of the possibilities our upcoming story platform will offer) and it feels serendipitous that the last entry we are sharing is titlted 'That's what friends are for'. Bears seemed to have received a lot of love in all the stories that we got and Nilomee Jesrani's story stars another lovable bear. What do bears, bees and baking have in common? Scroll down to find out.


Nilomee shares why she took part in challenge :
I loved the idea of making a story out of 6 frames, and was especially inspired to take part because the story gurus that are judging the entries are illustrators whom I follow and admite. Since it involved creating illustrations for children, it was the ideal challenge for me.
It was very motivating to see that a large community of illustrators was simultaneously participating. I loved seeing the updates on Facebook and the samples illustrated by the judges. I'm very excited to be a part of this and love the idea of creating stories and a story revolution for children in India.


(Nilomee Jesrani is an Illustrator and Animator. She loves creating illustrated content for children and is endlessly inspired by colour, nature and spaces! You can follow her work on : www.nilomeejesrani.blogspot.in, https://www.behance.net/NilomeeJesrani or on Twitter )

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:
Rajiv Eipe, Kalyani Ganapathy, Prashant Miranda, Kavita Singh Kale, Megha Vishwanath, Priya Nair Panicker, Sweta Roy Choudhury, Paneendra Suresh, Priya Kuriyan, Yulianto Qin, Manjari Chakravathi, Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja, Samidha Gunjal, Preeti Lata, Shwetha Elisha,Mithila Ananth, Sunandita Mehrotra, Vedavathi Narasimha Murthy, Jithin Jacob, Vidya Gopal,Archana Sreenivasan, Somesh Kumar, Gumani, Antara Mukherji, Anjora Noronha,Vinayak Varma, Soumya Menon, Jisha Unnikrishnan, Kruttika Susarla, Ninoshka Dias, Isha S Valentine, Neelima Raparla, Vallabhi Shegaonkar, Sangeeta Das, Hari Kumar Nair,Lakhsmi Mitter, Lily Banerjee, Aditi Dilip, Niloufer Wadia, Deepa JayaramanAnupamaApteNishith Mehta, Muhammed Shafi, Amar Soni, Krishna Prakash K,Lavanya Karthik, Sonal Gupta,Kabini Amin, Jason Dvorak, Tanvi Bhat, Ranjani S, Shikha Nambiar, Aritra Roy Chowdhury, Vaishali Chudasama, Sharanya Kunnath, Priya ManikandanMilan Nayak, Delwyn Remedios, Geetanjali B, Ambica Vinod, Shailja Jain Chougule, Chitra Chandrashekhar, Nikita Modi, David Knight, Geetali Tare, Nilomee Jesrani

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

"Time Just Flew By" - Geetali Tare on the #6FrameStoryChallenge

Geetali Tare's entry was one that came in by snail mail. A handwritten note came attached with her story and we were pleasantly surprised to see a second story come in too. Jump right in to see the two sweet and simple stories Geetali created. Presenting " The Wandering Orchid" and "The Old Lady who Loved Juggling".

"Thank you for letting me join in the fun and excitement of the 6 Frame Story Challenge. Time just flew by!"





(Geetali states that she hasn't learned illustration formally and it is something she does to keep myself sane after the lunacy of  9-5! You can follow her work at : http://geetali-tare.tumblr.com/).

Read the other interviews by illustrators who took the challenge:
Rajiv EipeKalyani GanapathyPrashant MirandaKavita Singh KaleMegha VishwanathPriya Nair PanickerSweta Roy ChoudhuryPaneendra SureshPriya KuriyanYulianto QinManjari ChakravathiSonal Goyal and Sumit SakhujaSamidha GunjalPreeti LataShwetha Elisha,Mithila AnanthSunandita MehrotraVedavathi Narasimha MurthyJithin JacobVidya Gopal,Archana SreenivasanSomesh KumarGumaniAntara MukherjiAnjora Noronha,Vinayak VarmaSoumya MenonJisha UnnikrishnanKruttika SusarlaNinoshka DiasIsha S ValentineNeelima RaparlaVallabhi ShegaonkarSangeeta DasHari Kumar Nair,Lakhsmi MitterLily BanerjeeAditi DilipNiloufer WadiaDeepa JayaramanAnupamaApteNishith MehtaMuhammed ShafiAmar SoniKrishna Prakash K,Lavanya KarthikSonal Gupta,Kabini AminJason DvorakTanvi BhatRanjani SShikha NambiarAritra Roy ChowdhuryVaishali ChudasamaSharanya KunnathPriya ManikandanMilan NayakDelwyn RemediosGeetanjali BAmbica VinodShailja Jain ChouguleChitra ChandrashekharNikita ModiDavid KnightGeetali TareNilomee Jesrani

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