Friday, April 30, 2010

It's summertime! Are your kids reading?

The Hindu carries an article on the reading habits of children - it's especially timely because it's summertime and they should be reading lots more!

Talking about Karadi Tales, the article says: 

C.P. Viswanath, Director, Karadi Tales, says the pressure is now on the publishers to provide quality content for children. With the onset of vacation, the publishing house, specialising in audio books, has been recording an increase in its online sales. “We have been receiving a good number of enquires about our books. Conscientious parents are particular about the kind of content their children get to read,” he says. While agreeing that books with glossy covers and attractive packaging tend to draw people, he says only a quality combination of illustration, writing and editing can sustain sales. “We began our company primarily as a publisher of traditional stories and now moved over to imaginative stories by authors owing to growing demand.”

Read the entire article here!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ciao, Karadi!

It turns out that Karadi is a bit of a globetrotter! Off he went to Bologna in Italy last month to attend the Bologna Children's Book Fair - and he had such a blast! He met interesting people and made lots of friends and has decided to learn a few foreign languages as well!

Here's a report from Shobha Viswanath, publishing director of Karadi Tales:

The annual international children’s book fair at Bolgona, Italy was at its usual best – particularly for us at Karadi Tales where many of our new hardcover picture books got much attention. My dear editor, Manasi, had appointments scheduled for me at half hour intervals for all four days of the fair, and by the end of the first day, I was ready to throw my fancy stylish boots in the rubbish bin and get myself some ugly floaters that would keep my legs alive until the end of the fair.  I managed the remaining three days in my sneakers which were totally unmatched with my clothes but my feet did not protest and, I noticed, no one else did either!

Bologna (pronounced bolownya by the Italians), a small city in Northeast of Italy, is hardly ever on a tourist itinerary and certainly not ever known to tour operators. Thank god for the book fair that allowed us a glimpse into this beautiful city.

The book fair, happens, luckily every year at the start of spring, and as you drive into the city from the airport you can see hundreds of trees bursting with green. Special to this time of year are also the cherry blossoms, and I was lucky enough to be in a hotel that was surrounded by these beautiful trees.

I could talk about the book fair, and the hundreds of wonderful children’s books I saw, the spectacular illustrations that filled the walls of the Illustrators’ CafĂ©, or the many authors who came to the fair.

But you know how places leave impressions? Some with their smells, some with their sounds, many with their sights, few other with their tastes – I have recalled places I have been to by the fragrance of a soap or the taste of an artichoke. The last impression that Bologna leaves you with is that of the book fair.

Instead, the city conjures up images of an old university, red cobble- stoned pathways, arched porticos, medieval streets, plentiful arcades, quaint churches and charming squares. Of these, the Piazza Maggiaore – the centre square dominated by a huge 14th century basilica is quite simply spectacular. And then there is the image of the beautiful 666 arches of the portico of the San Luca Church, up on a winding hill that will make the infidel want to believe in god.

Sunlight streamed along the alleys during an afternoon walk around the Piazza Maggiore. The mix of red brick, tiled roofs and balconies with the afternoon white light was simply awesome. I've been to Italy in the warm times and seen the famous cities of Florence, Rome and Venice but this image of the light that shrouded the old walled town had a mystical quality that remains unmatched and unforgettable.

Just walking through these streets of the quintessentially medieval city centre makes for a wonderful experience. Of the 20 medieval towers that survive today, the Two Towers, Torre degli Asinelli and the Torre Garisenda (both leaning just like the one in Pisa) are Bologna’s most famous. Next to the Piazza Maggiore, is the monumental civic fountain The Fountain of Neptune located in the eponymous square, Piazza Nettuno, another charming square forming a Bologna landmark.

If the sights are not enough to overwhelm you, then the smells and the tastes of Bologna will leave you weak at the knees. Called Bologna la Grassa (the Fat One) because of its legendary culinary art, the food of Bologna is as much a topic of conversation at the book fair, as are the books.

The city whisks up the smells from small trattorias (informal restaurants usually serving home made style cooking) which serve the local pastas like lasagna verdem, tortellini tagliatelle, the great Bolognese sauce and steaming cups of cappuccino and espressos.

Your taste buds in cahoots with your olfactory organs then etch your memory with the flavours of rich wines and grappas. And the cheese! How can I forget the cheese! For us Indians, whose cheese palates are limited to the great homemade paneer or perhaps extends slightly to the cooked mozerella in pizzas, the cheese shops in Bologna offer a wonderland of flavours. From Mozarella, Gorgonzola, Mascarpone, Parmesan, Scamorza, to Pecorino, in the streets you will find ubiquitous food shops displaying all these aromatic cheeses, and dozens of handmade types of pasta.

If your senses are still not satiated, then stroll down the Piazza again after the sun has set for a treat for the ears. Bologna has been defined as 'the great seminary of Italian music'. A walk through the alleys and streets of the historical centre can help one retrace the presence of great music personalities like Mozart, Liszt, Mendelssohn and see the residences of other musicians like Farinelli, Rossini and Donizetti who chose Bologna as their home for small periods in their life. Besides this, the city is filled with concerts, operas and open air performances.

I have been going to the bookfair in Bologna for 5 years now, and while the smell and feel of books do give me a great high, Bologna is complete in its sensorial experience.

But perhaps I should write about the books I saw as well!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our panel of judges

The 'Will You Write With Me?' contest has an eminent panel of judges. All three judges of the contest are published authors with a special interest in children's literature. Most importantly, all three are voracious readers - and that's what makes them such perfect judges!

We know you're curious about who they are, so here are their profiles.

Shreekumar Varma

Shreekumar Varma is an Indian author, playwright, newspaper columnist and poet. He is the great great grandson of the artist Raja Ravi Varma and grandson of Regent Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, the last ruling Maharani of Travancore. He lives in Chennai and is a full-time writer and adjunct professor at the Chennai Mathematical Institute. He was awarded the Charles Wallace Fellowship in 2004. His debut novel Lament of Mohini was longlisted for the Crossword prize. It featured on the Asian Age Top Ten List. His novel Maria's Room was longlisted for the Man Asia Literary Prize in 2007. 

You can read more about Shreekumar on his website.

Anshumani Ruddra

Anshumani Ruddra is an author and screenwriter based in Mumbai. He predominantly writes in the speculative fiction genre. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and he is currently putting finishing touches to his first novel for adults. He also conducts workshops for children and college students in the areas of writing, speculative fiction, scriptwriting and comic books. 

He has written two titles for Karadi Tales – Crickematics! and Dorje’s Stripes. Do read this write up about Crickematics!.

You can find out more about Anshumani on his website and his blog.

Shobha Viswanath

Children’s writer and educator, Shobha Viswanath is Publishing Director and co-founder of Karadi Tales Company. A postgraduate in Literature from the University of Bombay and in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University, Shobha has worked as a consultant for several schools, developing resource material for children with learning difficulties. She has also directed workshops for teachers and parents on early childhood learning. 

Shobha has written over 20 books for children. She loves traveling, art and music and belongs to a family of musicians. 

Do watch this interview of Shobha on ChennaiOnline - Part 1 and Part 2.

Our judges are very excited about the awesome writing that's come to us through this contest, and they're thoroughly enjoying this process.

So keep writing, everyone!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shopping for Children's Books

Random Thoughts blogs about shopping for children's books in India. She discusses books made by Pratham Books, Katha, Tulika Books, Karadi Tales, Jyotsna Prakashan and Tara Books. Do read her interesting and informative post here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Of writing contests...

If you're having withdrawal symptoms from the 'Will You Write With Me?' contest and are looking for an opportunity to let your creativity flow, look no further than the new contest from Pratham Books - Retell, Remix, Rejoice!

Good luck - and keep writing!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Contest Shortlist!

The 'Will You Write With Me?' contest ended on 28 February... and we know you guys have been waiting to hear the results for a long time - and we assure you we have a great reason for the delay. 

The reason is all of you! Yes, you and you and you. You've sent in such great entries to the contest that we simply couldn't choose! 

So here's what we've done. We have developed a shortlist of 20 entries - and these 20 entries will be thoroughly read again and again and again to pick the top 3.

And yes, we know you're curious about who all have made the cut. So here you go! Here is the shortlist from the Karadi Tales 'Will You Write With Me?' contest in alphabetical order.

‘42: A life in numbers’ by Bernard L’Allier
‘A question of numbers’ by Ramesh Rabindranath
‘Actions speak louder’ by Vibha Batra
‘Count on the sportsmen’ by Sonali Arun Bhatia
‘Encounter with a counter’ by Sonali Arun Bhatia
‘Going wild with numbers’ by Sonali Arun Bhatia
‘Number game’ by Archana Rao-D’Cruz
‘Numbers don’t count for everything’ by Anna Mathews
‘Numbers from beyond’ by M. Aravind
‘Numero Uno’ by Richa Vatsa
‘Raghunath to the exploding guavas’ rescue’ by Mala Ashok
‘Speaking of numbers’ by Shweta Ganesh Kumar
‘The code’ by Mira Desai
‘The man who spoke in numbers’ by Lakshmi Ananth
‘The number cruncher’ by Susan Philip
‘The number world’ by Janaki Chandrasekaran
‘The Shanks of 999’ by Debarun Roy Gupta
‘The tale of the mysterious numbers’ by Manjushree Nanda
‘Total disruption’ by Nanda Ramesh
‘Train to UNO’ by Priya Kumar

Congratulations, you guys! Keep writing!

Oh and watch this space to know who the judges of the contest are!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Karadi Tales Mythology

The Karadi Tales Mythology series rocks. Now, there are 2 ways to find out just how much it rocks!
  1. They're available as audiobooks (book + audio CD).
  2. They're available as animated DVDS.
We hope you've seen the animated show on Disney Channel. 

If you haven't, look at samples here and here

You can pick up these DVDs at any bookstore and at our website!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog-Rolling in April

Rohini Ramakrishnan of The Hindu reviews our four latest picture books in Young World. She says these are 'four delightful stories that will make you laugh, think and dream...' 

Take a look at these picture books here!

Itchingtowrite reviews The Lizard's Tail on her blog, Mamma of Twins. She says, 'The book is alost like a painting vivid drawings and depictions and the story is paced well.'

Take a look at the audiobook here!

At The Book Lovers, Priyanka reviews the 'Will You Read With Me?' series. She writes: 'The concept is what I really liked.My son liked the idea of reading stories with their favourite actor/actress/sports personality.The illustrations on the books are also very beautifully done to generate reading interest in the child.The CD that comes along with the book gives them confidence to read the book aloud and read it on their own.'

Read the entire review!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Retelling Traditional Stories

Author Uma Krishnaswami, who has recently written 4 stories for the Karadi Tales Mythology series and will hopefully write several more, blogs about her experiences at Writing with a broken tusk

She discusses the process of retelling mythology and the differences between writing for an Indian and an international readership. She writes: 'To begin with, I found it exhilarating to be back in the realm of retellings. I listened to Sanskrit verses, trying to catch cadence and rhythm and express it in the English renderings. I followed the twists and turns of mythological story, instead of following characters as one does in fiction writing. I found myself delving deeper into the story with each revision, sometimes revealing flashes of the backstory of minor characters, sometimes following a single prophecy or a promise gone wrong.'

Thanks, Uma!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reading develops intelligence

The simple activity of reading is a virtual brain gym. It enables the growth of multiple intelligences. Reading stimulates both the right and left sides of the brain.  In fact, it is one of those few simple activities that triggers the growth of both intuitive and logical intelligence. Studies have shown that early readers not only have better language skills, they are also better at grasping mathematical and scientific concepts, are emotionally well adjusted and are generally happier kids.

Do read this helpful article on the intellectual development benefits of reading to your child and this informative piece on how books foster the child's emotional intelligence.