Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pinocchio in Ahmedabad

Most of the stuff we adored as kids is not very accessible now. But both of us are avid collectors of anything to do with children’s literature... and thought we’d talk about some of them.

Ravishankar Raval (1892-1977), a Gujarati artist and founder of a path-breaking Gujarati magazine for teenagers called Kumar, was a source of inspiration in my childhood. I often tried to copy his sketches – without much success, of course. Here are some pen and ink illustrations from a Gujarati translation of Pinocchio. (Titled Bawalana Parakramo, translated by Hansa Mehta in 1939.)

What is fascinating about these illustrations is that they maintained the slightly dark tone of the story and still managed to make the characters look like they had walked out of a Gujarati story – and not a European one. I remember looking at the drawings for hours and trying to imagine what the story was about much before I could read Gujarati. Note the very Gujju-looking Fairy Godmother and Geppetto (called Ranchhod here!).

If you’d like to see more of Raval’s work, it’s on this site. Slightly archaic and not too surf-friendly, but still wonderful art!


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Amit's new Puffin book cover....and the Rupa one!

You live and you learn

We're in the highly unprofitable – but completely delightful – business of creating children's books in India. It's such fun actually that of course it can’t be profitable, can it? No, but really, this has been a good year. Critter Kumari (i.e., the baby) arrived and thrived, Amit illustrated two Puffin books (see above for one cover) and two of Anita’s stories appeared in The Puffin Anthology of Bedtime Stories (Nandana Jal’s review). Oh, and Anita started writing a column for the Mumbai Mirror. All in all, not much moolah, but lotsa work-wise joy!

More than anything else, for the first time in our cumulative lives, we’ve learned the fine art of baby-and-work management. So Amit has figured that the best time to draw is at 4 am before the wife-and-kid shebang rises like a double-headed monster. And Anita has learnt that the tummy is a good place to keep the laptop and type while watching a sleeping baby. Or how to read / write while nursing (lie on your side, hold the book / laptop behind the baby and read / write!). The only problem? How does one get the creative juices to flow on demand when the baby has fallen asleep and all you want to do is relax / eat / sleep / read / chat online or on-fone?