Planet Picture Book

Tara Books

Yesterday evening, I was thrilled to attend a presentation by Tara Books at Lost in Books in Fairfield, Sydney.

Two designers from Tara Books in Chennai, Dhwani Shah and Ragini Siruguri, provided fascinating insights into the unique collaborative process behind some of their picture books. We heard that projects often develop organically, bringing together artists, writers and designers to create visually attractive, beautifully written titles that often push the boundaries of traditional ‘book architecture’.

‘A Village is a Busy Place’ opens up like a scroll, and has a hole at the top so it can double as a wall-hanging. Or, there is ‘Knock! Knock!’’ which unfolds into a series of post-card sized apartments as a little girl tries to locate her teddy bear. And the fabulous ‘An Indian Beach: By Day and Night’ . . . I could go on!

I also loved the focus on tribal and folk art in some of the titles. ‘Beasts of India’ features animals painted by a range of indigenous artists, with an index on the different styles and artists’ names. It is also one of many handmade books produced by Tara Books. And what a process that is, with a team of local artisans adding layer upon layer of colour to each page, before binding the books and gluing the covers in place. Take a look at this 7-minute video on Vimeo and be amazed!

Lost in Books was a wonderful venue for the event. It is a warm, welcoming bookshop and community space in the culturally diverse suburb of Fairfield, Sydney. The shelves are stocked with picture books in multiple languages (including Tara Book titles!) and there is a great program of events for children and adults, including English conversation, music time and textile workshops. Thanks to founder Jane Stratton and manager Yvonne Lam for making me so welcome – and to the Tara team for the terrific presentation!

I look forward to sharing some titles from Tara Books with you when Planet Picture Books ‘visits’ India! I certainly have a few to choose from.

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