After high school, I headed to India for six months to work as a volunteer teacher. Why India? Perhaps it was the attraction of the unknown, the desire for adventure far from home . . . I really don’t know! What I do know is that I had an image of what India looked and felt like: it was a searing hot landscape where camels galloped across the sand, and women dressed in brightly coloured saris. I ended up just outside Shimla in Northern India in the middle of winter. It was very cold and there wasn’t a camel in sight. There was, however, a magnificent view from the mountaintops and the scent of pine filled the air. I did later find my way to the Thar Desert, as well as many other locations in this beautifully diverse country.
I have tried to capture some of this beauty and diversity in my book choices for India. I have also opted to feature picture books by Indian authors and illustrators*, published in India. Two of the titles I have selected are from Tara Books. I was privileged to attend a presentation by two of their designers in Sydney last year and I fell in love with their eclectic list. The presentation also provided me with the opportunity to actively browse a whole range of Tara titles before making my selection (I bought more than two!) Rarely on this picture book journey do I have a chance to leaf through a book before buying it – a real treat.
The third title is published by Katha, a non-profit organisation that encourages literacy and a love of reading in Indian slum communities and schools. I researched this publisher after reading a blog post by children’s author and journalist Bijal Vacharajani. I couldn’t order the book I wanted from the publisher direct; I ended up purchasing it from Kitaab World in the US.
Here’s what awaits!
Beasts of India by Kanchana Arni and Gita Wolf with various artists (Tara Books, 2003; this edition, 2017)
Bioscope by Mamta Nainy, illustrated by Shanti Devi (Katha, 2011)
Hic! by Anushka Ravishankar, illustrated by Christiane Pieper (Tara Books, 2017)
I hope you enjoy these titles as much as I do.
* Illustrator and author Christiane Pieper hails from Germany. She has collaborated on several picture books with Anushka Ravishankar.[Image: Shimla by deepgoswami, made available under a creative commons licence. Source: flickr.com]