Monday, May 31, 2010

The Warli Art Form

On brick-red walls in villages far,
Stories sing in white rice flour...

Warli is the name of the largest tribe found on the northern outskirts of Bombay. The Warli art form is beautiful and historic. At the same time, it is simple. In the form of rudimentary wall paintings, Warli art has a very basic graphic vocabulary that is mostly filled with circles, triangles and squares. The central motif in these ritual paintings is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals. 

The pared down pictorial language is matched by a rudimentary technique. The ritual paintings are usually done inside the huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and cow dung, making a red ochre background for the wall paintings. The Warlis use only white for their paintings. Their white pigment is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a binding. They use a bamboo stick chewed at the end to make it as supple as a paintbrush. 

If you'd like to expose your children to the beautiful Warli art form, take a look at The Blue Jackal offered by Karadi Tales as an audiobook. The Panchatantra folktale of the jackal that fell into the indigo dye is rendered beautifully in Warli by Dileep Joshi. Written by Shobha Viswanath, narrated by Naseeruddin Shah and with music by 3 Brothers & A Violin, this book is a rich and unforgettable experience.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peek into our office!

Have you been to the Karadi Tales Chennai office? It's the creative powerhouse of Karadi Tales - and it's where pretty much everything happens. It's in a lovely part of the city called Gandhinagar and is very close to the Adyar River on one side and the Bay of Bengal at the other. Situated on the third floor, our office overlooks a bustling street and has a variety of great eateries close by.

Here are some photographs of our pretty office!

That's the entrance to the office. Walk in and say hi to our receptionist.  Take a comfortable seat in one of our colourful chairs, browse through our products and say hello to us as we walk by!

On some days, if you're lucky, you might even see Karadi wandering about our office, searching for stories. He loves people, so don't be afraid to say hello to him if you see him!

The long corridor leads to the cubicles and desks of the publishing team at the Chennai office. Filled with lovely plants and beautiful paintings, it's a cheerful area. The corridor has a small library of folk tales and picture books at the far end. 

Lovely brick pillars add to the earthy decor of our office and gently complement the warm red Chettinad tile flooring. The wooden cubicles and desks are inviting and the ambience is generally friendly. Each desk has a bright orange notice board with tiny yellow polka dots on it. At different desks, you'll see different things on the notice board - some have posters and pictures, some have memos and calendars. Each desk is filled with objects that make it unique and special.

The circular room at the far end is our director's cabin. It overlooks the bustling city and plays host to several important meetings. The charming frame you see in the background is filled with the beautiful sketches of Gandhi's life that were created by Thota Tharani for our audiobook, The story of my experiments with truth.

And as always, the room is brightened up by plants! You can even see a lovely money plant creeping up at the end of the window.

At the far end, right in front of the large window that faces the streets of Chennai, is our modest library of children's books from around the world. We're all big readers at our office and you'll find books piled up on every desk and inside every cabin!

The glass doors and walls, offset by the wooden panels, make for great ventilation, lighting and an all-round cheerful effect. Of course, the office is filled with people all day long and you'll never see it quite as empty as in these pictures! It's noisy too - with music from the stereo, ring tones from various phones and people jabbering away constantly about something or the other.

In one little corner, you'll find a giant handmade black book. That's the Karadi Tales 'Idea Book'. When anyone in our team has an idea for a book or a product, all they have to do is write it down in the idea book. The idea book is reviewed by the editorial department on a regular basis - and there's always room for more ideas in Karadi Tales!

The largest cabin is the conference room. Airy and well-equipped with fancy projectors and other complicated apparatus that many of us simply cannot fathom, the conference room doubles up as a general meeting point for a quick snack as well! The kettle by the window is useful for making a quick cup of tea or coffee on a drowsy day.

Every morning, our elusive chai-wallah pops into the office, inevitably late, and twenty sleepy faces look up joyfully at him. 'Why late today, Vinod?' we ask. He simply smiles his sage smile, hands over our ceramic cups of chai / kaapi and disappears as suddenly as he arrived.

You should know that food and drink are extremely popular at our office. If you bring us food, we'll love you forever. Yes, forever.

So the next time you're in the area, feel free to pop into our Chennai office to pick up a book or a DVD from us and say hello to our team! We won't say no if you pass around some samosas and cake either!

More pictures here!

* Photographs taken by our bright intern from NIFT Delhi, Isha Nagar

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Travelling Lizard

Have you read The Lizard's Tail yet? It's a lovely story based on a Tamil folktale about a little lizard that's looking for a new tail. Adapted by Shobha Viswanath in prose and verse, this story has brilliant palette knife art by German illustrator Christine Kastl. The artist actually uses a knife, instead of a paint brush, with her palette to create beautiful artwork. Each page of this book is like a painting by itself.

And guess what! The Lizard's Tail is so popular that it's been translated into French and Korean to make it available to a wider range of young readers! 

Available in French from Ocean Editions as La Queue du Lezard, this book is widely distributed in France, Belgium and the Reunion Islands. Extremely popular and well-loved for its sophisticated artwork and charming plot, the book is doing extremely well in Europe. 

Claudine Serre, editor at Ocean Editions, visited us in Chennai in March 2010. It was absolutely wonderful to meet our charismatic French publisher. She thoroughly enjoyed looking at other picture books on our catalogues and hopes to make many more available in French soon!

The Lizard's Tail is not done travelling though! The book is also available in Korean! Maeng & Aeng Publishers have translated and published the book in Korea. Take a look at the colourful cover page they've used for the book!

Interestingly, the Korean edition of The Lizard's Tail has been highly commended by Jangone Korean, a popular bi-weekly educational magazine for children in Korea, because of the values and principles the book subtly espouses, as well as the lyrical, simple language used. 

We're hoping that we can soon make this book available in as many different languages as possible so that children and adults from all over the world can read this folktale and enjoy the beautiful illustrations.

From Karadi Tales, the book is available as an audiobook (book + audio CD)  narrated by Vidya Balan and textured with foot-tapping background music by 3 Brothers & A Violin and an exciting title track composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. 

It is also available as a beautiful hard cover picture book

If you haven't read it, do! The rest of the world has begun reading this story - and they're loving it! 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Long listed!

The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards have a special section for children's books this year. This is great news for children's publishing in India. And it's really great news for Karadi Tales because four of our audiobooks are on the long list for the award! 

That's right. Little Vinayak (written by Shobha Viswanath, illustrated by Shilpa Ranade, narrated by Vidya Balan), Crickematics! (written by Anshumani Ruddra, illustrated by M. Kathiravan, narrated by Rahul Dravid), A Hundred Cartloads (written by Devika Rangachari, illustrated by Bindia Thapar, narrated by Soha Ali Khan) and Super Hathaman (written by Kaushik Viswanath, illustrated by Chetan Sharma, narrated by Jaaved Jaaferi) have all made the cut! The four titles are resplendent with a gorgeous musical background score by 3 Brothers & A Violin and a foot-tapping title song by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. 

We're very excited about this! Mostly, it's very heartwarming to note the great strides taken by children's publishing in India. Some truly fantastic work has been produced in the year 2009 and we're honoured to be placed along the other long listed entries in this year's awards.

Read the entire long list here. And you can pick up these titles here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Lizard's Tail and The Boy Who Drew Cats: A Review

This review appeared in i.witness, the Sunday supplement of the New Indian Express, on 9 May 2010. You can read the original article here.

And don't forget to pick up these fantastic books here!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The results are out!

That's right! The results of the 'Will You Write With Me?' contest are out! The three winning entries that will be published by Karadi Tales are (in no particular order):

'The code' by Mira Desai
'Number game' by Archana Rao-D’cruz
'Count on the sportsmen' by Sonali Arun Bhatia

Congratulations, you three!

The winning entries were selected by our panel of judges comprising Shreekumar Varma, Shobha Viswanath and Anshumani Ruddra.

Thanks, everyone, for all your interest and enthusiasm! We had a great time bringing this contest to you and hope to return with many more.

Most importantly, keep writing!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Rumour: A Review

Uma Krishnaswami, a children's author who has recently written 6 titles for the Karadi Tales Mythology series (these 6 titles will be out soon!) reviews The Rumour (written by Anushka Ravishankar and illustrated by Kanyika Kini). The following review appears on the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD) website.

While the review on the website is only accessible to subscribers, we're reproducing it below for you.

Uma writes:

“Deep in the Sahyadri Mountains…” begins this charming fable from Anushka Ravishankar. In a prosperous village, people pass the time telling tall tales. Hyperbole and extended metaphor characterize the humorous text, about an ill-tempered man named Pandurang who “scowled at stories and snorted at jokes”. That is, until the day he coughs and spits out a feather. He makes his wife promise she won’t tell anyone. Naturally, this tale grows and grows, until it’s every bit as tall as the book’s opening promised us it would be. 

Illustrator Kani employs ink and color pencils. Her vivid palette, interesting slants of perspective, and whimsical decorative elements join together to complement the text perfectly. The rural setting is engagingly quirky, and the expressions on the characters’ faces are hilarious. An enormous centered illustration cleverly helps to bring the tall tale to a climax in a spread that sends all the villagers off to look for Pandurang himself. 

What happens next is a clever turn of story that brings the book to a conclusion both surprising and inevitable. Between the well-voiced text, the arresting illustrations, and the many layers of narrative, readers are sure to feel invited to return for repeated readings.

Thanks a lot for this review, Uma!

Do visit Uma's blog, Writing with a broken tusk.

You can pick up this picture book and many more from Karadi Tales here.