Monday, September 26, 2011

Whose Lovely Child Can You Be?

Gulgul is not really sure where she comes from – then her entire family decides to tell her the story of the magical day she entered their lives. And Gulgul realises that she’s far more special than even she knew! This tender story in rhyme by Shobha Viswanath is illustrated in acrylic by Christine Tappin and talks about the wonderful experience of having a child in your life.

The artist Christine Tappin graduated in 2007 from Christ Church University in Canterbury, Kent, where she studied for her degree in Fine Art. She currently works from her Kent-based studio, painting pictures for children's books and making greeting cards.

We interviewed Christine about the illustration process and her general thoughts on the story. 

Did you like the story? Why?

I loved this story right from the start! I can easily relate to whose lovely child as my aunt and uncle were in the process of adopting when I first started this project. Now that the book is about to be published, I'm thrilled that I can share this story with my new cousins! We are so happy that they are a part of our family, a true blessing for us. I hope that when we read this story to them, they can understand how special they are.

What medium did you use in the illustrations? Why?

I like to create my images using Photoshop as it allows me to continue experimenting right up until the last minute. I find that working on a canvas sometimes means that you are committed to shapes and colours as soon as you lay them down. Photoshop definitely allows you more freedom.

 One of the most unusual things about the artwork in the book is the  use of perspective. Is this part of your natural style or is it something  that you evolved for this book? How hard was it for you to maintain exact  dimensions when showing characters (and their shadows) from different  viewpoints?

I really like to draw images from unusual angles, as I feel it lends my pictures a dream-like quality. I find that this is one of the benefits of working in digital media, as its very easy to move the characters around, and adjust them to how you visualize it in your mind. It can be challenging to find the correct angles, and does take a lot of experimenting and patience, but its definitely worth it in the end.

Adapting your artwork to Indian characters and milieus must have been  a challenge. Have you ever been to India? What reference points did you use?

I've never been to India unfortunately, but would really love to go some day. I'm very lucky that my best friend Sophia is from India, so she was able to help me out a lot with this project. It was a little challenging at the beginning, as I wasn't sure what the traditional attire was for the characters, especially the women! I used the internet a lot and also watched a few Indian films to give me a better sense of the fashion and culture.

Any last thoughts on the book or the process?

I hope that the readers can enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed working on it!

Friday, September 23, 2011

On Bilingual Titles from Karadi Tales

Have you seen this article on bilingual books in the Times of India?

What Karadi Tales titles are available in languages other than English? Quite a few, actually! 

The Karadi Tales Junior series is a popular series of audiobooks aimed at very young children (ages 2 to 4). The audiobooks were first made available in English (narrated by Saeed Jaffrey). Once we discovered how popular these books were, both in schools and in the general retail market, we converted them into bilingual titles in 2004 – English/Hindi and English/Tamil

The Hindi audio is narrated by Tom Alter and the Tamil audio is narrated by Nasser. 

Some Karadi Tales titles were already available in Hindi as Karadi Katha and Tamil as Karadi Kadhai, aside from English, but this was our first foray into dual language books. 

Chitra is an imprint of Karadi Tales that makes picture books from around the world available to Indian children. In 2007, we wanted to make the beautiful Eric Carle titles available in the English/Hindi bilingual format and we negotiated the translation rights to do so. The 4 titles were The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, The Mixed-Up Chameleon and The Tiny Seed. 

Our Eric Carle bilingual titles are extremely popular in urban milieus, probably because the creator is already well-known in these circles and the bilingual aspect makes these books a novelty in the genre. Here, the motivating factor is probably the fact that parents want children to get comfortable with their mother-tongues. Look at this email sent to us by a bookshop owner based in South Bombay on the bilingual titles.

These books are purchased both as extracurricular reading to help a child gain academically in language skills and to help the child repossess her mother tongue and think imaginatively in a language other than English. While the former is important in schools, the latter is more important in the home setting. From our experience, we can tell you that bilingual titles are popular both through academic channels and through the retail market. The aspect of language-learning through bilingual books is one that definitely cannot be ignored. But more than that, from the perspective of a child, the bilingual book can be very exciting. In the case of audiobooks and video products, the tones, sounds and accents differ so much from one language to the other that it is often like getting two different stories! Take a look at this article written by our CEO, C. P. Viswanath for the Times of India a few years ago.

When we brought out Wings of Fire by Abdul Kalam as an audiobook, we were so struck by its popularity that we also decided to bring the audiobook out in Tamil and Hindi as well. The Hindi audiobook is called Parwaaz and the Tamil audiobook is called Agni Chiragugal.

Aside from audiobooks and picture books, we have bilingual DVDs as well. The Karadi Tales animated series and the Mythology animated series is entirely available on DVD as home video products in the bilingual format as English/Hindi titles with voices from several of our popular narrators.

For the future, we’re always on the look-out for stories that lend themselves to the bilingual format. Additionally, we have been looking at bringing out books that are simultaneously in two languages, i.e., when two different languages are interspersed within the text of the story, rather than reproducing the same text separately in the two languages. For children who are naturally bilingual and who have a tendency to switch effortlessly from one language to another during regular conversation, these books definitely strike a chord. For now, the languages we are most comfortable with are English, Hindi and Tamil, although this may also change in the future. We’d like to bring out the 4 Eric Carle titles in the English/Tamil format as well. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Another Birthday Card for Uncle Pai!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Pai!

Had he lived, today would have been Uncle Pai's 82nd birthday. He was the visionary behind Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle and he deeply inspired several publishing houses in the country including Karadi Tales. For those of us who grew up on his creations, our very idea of Indian history and mythology was defined by this man's vision. He is not just a loss to ACK Media, but to our country.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Should Your Child Read?

Karadi Tales CEO, C. P. Viswanath, writes on the importance of reading in this very special post in lieu of International Literacy Day, which was 8 September:

The average seven-year-old is a computer whiz. Parents are astounded at the ease with which he uses gadgets. But is he a fluent reader? Parents may ignore this. After all, he’s so smart with the computer. But they often do not realise that computers are designed to be mastered by anyone. With their natural intuition, every kid would figure out how to operate them.  This should not be viewed as an extraordinary ability.

Through the 1900s, the USA was one of the most creative and productive societies. In the 21st century, however, that has changed. America has begun to realise that their young population entering the workforce is ill-prepared to continue this rich legacy. A generation that grew up on a diet of excessive television, computers and video games and too little time reading is now facing extraordinary limitations. In a passionate address talking about the reemphasis on reading in the education policy Barack Obama recently said:

India is today where the USA was 20 years ago. With the proliferation of cable television, computers and video games in Indian society over the last few years, our children are now achieving reading proficiency almost 2 years later than the previous generation did and reading much less. This will result in children who grow up to function intellectually and emotionally well below their potential.

We are now being told to pay huge sums of money for premium preschools and schools that bombard children with visual information through televisions, computers and ‘smart’ classrooms. Television and computers are fabulous learning tools for older children. However, for younger children, the simple act of reading is the key to nurturing their creativity and intelligence.

A common misconception is that children today are much smarter than children of previous generations. In an age where information is so widely available, it is only natural that children absorb much of it. So their information bank is, perhaps, greater. But unless a child knows how to productively use that information, it is of little consequence. Information, since it is so freely available, is no longer valued as highly as creativity, the ability to think out of the box, the ability to use information to evolve innovations.

For example: A group of 40 Class III students was given a verbal description of an unusual creature from a Harry Potter book and asked to draw the creature. Children who had not seen the movie came up with highly individual pictures. Children who had seen the movie came up with an image resembling what they had seen in the movie. What would you rather have, 1 idea or 40 ideas?

Reading stimulates the theatre of the mind. Each child evolves his or her own unique theatre and that is the root of your child’s creative growth. Why do educators all around the world stress so much on reading?  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.

So the next time anybody says that reading may not be that important in the computer age, think again. Help your child become an early and enthusiastic reader and you have empowered your child more than you can imagine.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's World Literacy Day!

Over 70% of the words in the English language are sight-words. This means we are expected to recognise the word as soon as we see it. The best way to initiate a child into sight-reading is for the child to see a word and hear it at the same time. 

Audiobooks are the perfect way to do that! Have you heard the Mouse stories?

This series is all about fun. The new titles in Karadi Tales Junior feature an extremely wily and unusual protagonist – a mouse! – in four hilarious, laugh-out-loud stories brought alive with charming music, hilariously vivid illustrations and a dramatic narrative. With these stories, reading becomes a participatory process – the child can engage with the stories through the written form, the audio and the artwork.

Brought alive with rich music by Anil Srinivasan, the audio has a dramatic narrative with voices from theatre company Evam. Vivid illustrations by Malavika P. C. add to the hilarity of these stories by Lavanya R. N., Pankaja Srinivasan and Shobha Viswanath. 

One of the 4 Mouse Stories is available online for you to hear and read along with. The Lion and the Mouse is now fully available through Issuu!

The audiobook editions of The Mouse Stories (Book + Audio CD) carry an MRP of Rs. 145 each and are available through all major online and offline retail chains.

Happy World Literacy Day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vinayaka Chaturti Wishes

September 2011

In 2011, we'll be giving you a calendar for every month with artwork from one of our books. Here's the September 2011 calendar. We hope you like it!