Thursday, December 26, 2013

Meet the authors - Uma Krishnaswami

After a long, long hiatus, the 'Meet the authors' series is back on our blog. This time, we feature Uma Krishnaswami, a prolific children's author and a teacher of writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has written over 20 picture books, illustrated books and novels for children, and her books have been published in India and abroad. She won the Crossword Book Award this year for Book Uncle and Me
Uma has reviewed some of our titles on her blog and for the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database. Her books for Karadi Tales - Young Markandeya, Markandeya's Vision, Bheeshma and Karna - are yet to be published. 

Karadi: What made you take up children’s writing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a children’s writer?
Uma: I was a writer when I was a child, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t see myself as a writer, even though I read all the time, and wrote spontaneously, frequently, and for fun. It was not until my son was born and I began to collect children’s books for him that I remembered my early pleasure in reading and writing. It seemed natural to me to turn to writing books for young readers, since those were the texts that spoke to me so powerfully when I was young. 
Advantages? Disadvantages? That’s an interesting question. I don’t think of my work in those terms. I write for this audience because I can’t imagine doing anything else! If I’d known just how risky and unpredictable the business of writing is, I’d probably never have taken it up at all, so it’s just as well that I was clueless. 
I suppose the positive thing about writing for children is the freshness of the audience. Children are honest readers and they keep us honest as well when we write for them. The down side is that people in general, and even writers who write for grownups, sometimes think it must somehow be easier to write for children. It’s just a minor occupational annoyance and one that’s generally easy to laugh off. 

Karadi: Do you have to like children to be a good children’s author?
Uma: No. You have to have been a child. You have to have a visceral, unsentimental memory of that time in your life. You have to look upon childhood and children with a clear eye and a lack of nostalgia. You don’t have to like children, in my opinion. That said, I do believe that you must respect them and you must never, never write down to them. If anything you have to write up to young readers. You have to trust that they can handle greater complexity and nuance than they’re usually given credit for being able to do.  

Karadi: What do you like to read? What are your favourite children’s books? Who are your favourite authors?
Uma: I read impulsively and eclectically and completely at random—everything from fiction to nonfiction, adult to YA to children’s books. I read books in the forms I write in and others in forms—memoir, for example—that I’m not in the least tempted to try. Recently I’ve read and enjoyed the following, for example:
The Great Tamasha by James Astill—and no, I am not interested in cricket but this history of the game in India was really absorbing
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys—YA novel set in the Soviet era
Yarn: Remembering the Way Home by Kyoko Mori—a memoir of immigration, love, loss, and knitting. I can relate to all of it but especially the knitting.
As for my favourite children’s books here’s a partial list:
Charlotte’s Web and The Phantom Tollbooth are others I turn to repeatedly. In the picture book department, I think that Where the Wild Things Are is as close to perfect as one can get in a picture book, structurally and in terms of the economy of language. 

Karadi: Do you follow a writing routine? How do you go about writing a story?
Uma: I follow an anti-routine. I try to block in a few hours a week for writing time, except when I’m traveling. I make those appointments with myself. I vary the time of day, but I always keep the appointments. I make myself a cup of tea, settle down at my desk, and stay logged out of e-mail while I write. 
The process of writing a story varies with the story but in general I am not an outliner, and I don’t know ahead of time how a story will shape up, or what it’s really about, or what it means. I revise many, many times and in the process I surprise myself and eventually find out where the story’s going. 

Karadi: What are you currently working on?
Uma: Too many things at once, I’m afraid. A children’s novel I began back in 2006, a nonfiction project for which I’m just starting the research, and a couple of shorter pieces that are still quite unformed. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dorje's Stripes in Denmark

We received copies of the Danish and Swedish versions of Dorje's Strips from our lovely friends at Forlaget Palka today. Look how gorgeous the books are!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kutti, Kozhakkattais and Bablu at Bookaroo

That's our Publishing Director, Shobha Viswanath telling the story of Kutti and the Mouse at The Palms at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. The 6th Bookaroo Festival of Children's Literature happened there last weekend.

She regaled the audience of over 50 kids and parents with the delicious tale of the seven siblings and a mouse. She also narrated the story of Bablu, the elephant and the mouse. 

Since Kutti and the Mouse is all about Kozhakkattais (Modaks, for those of you who do not know what Kozhakkattais are), Shobha called on a few young members of the audience to pronounce the word 'Kozhakkattai'(Go on, try saying the word out loud). Most of them who tried, failed and so Shobha invited the children to tell stories. The little storytellers spun yarns about seven-tailed mice, foxes, and more mice. And oh what a gala time they all had!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Curious Sameer on Kirkus Reviews

There are so many exciting things happening at Karadi Tales this month! Kanyika Kini collected the SABA award for The Rumor in Madison, we received the gorgeous multilingual editions of The Rumor from Edition Orient, and our spectacular theatrical production Karadi Rhymes - Once Upon A Bak-Bak Tree premieres at the Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Chennai tomorrow! Added to this, two books from our Curious Sameer series have been reviewed by the acclaimed 'Kirkus Reviews'. 

Here's what they have to say about What Will I Be? and What Could It Be?, the first two books in the series written by Nandini Nayar and illustrated by Francesco Manetti:

"The bold, textured paintings and obvious love shown between parent and child will attract readers and entice them to return."
(On What Will I Be? Read the entire review here.)

"The wonderful relationship between mother and son is visualized in intense colors, striking perspectives and imagery straight out of children's creative moments."
(On What Could It Be? Read the entire review here.)

These books are now available on Amazon and on the Karadi Tales website

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Rumor goes places

We received the multilingual editions of our award-winning book, The Rumor from Edition Orient yesterday. The story of Baddbaddpur is now being told in German, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Tamil and Malayalam! Take a sneak-peek of the books, look how fantastic they are!

And guess what? You can also play Spot-the-Difference with these books! Go on, spot the differences in the following set of pictures.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The SABA experience

You do know that our book, The Rumor won the South Asia Book Award this year, don't you? The illustrator, Kanyika Kini went to Madison for the award ceremony and she sent us a happy little mail about her experience there. Read on.

I had a really lovely (and pretty hectic!) trip to Madison.

The book award has been instituted by the South Asia National Outreach Consortium. The award ceremony was attended by participants of the conference as well as teachers and librarians from schools in the area. Lynne Kelly, the author of the honour book, 'Chained' and I, who were the only ones attending the ceremony, were asked to give a 15 minute acceptance speech.
In my speech I spoke about how I went about the process of illustrating the story - gathering visual clues based on the geographical context and scenes from Indian village life, etc. - and the process of sketching and rendering the illustrations. I summed it up with the note from Anushka that I read in the end. 

The highlight of my trip was a visit to the Patrick Marsh Middle School on the previous day. I read out the story and talked to 3 different groups of 11 - 13 year old children about how I illustrated the book. I was amazed at how attentive they were, given their age group, and the kinds of questions they asked - it was great fun! The teacher who organized this visit sent a write up about it to their local online newspaper

So the rumor continues to spread... :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Diwali!

Karadi wishes you and your family a very, very, very happy Diwali!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Storytelling Event at San Jose

Diwali celebrations began early for a group of children at San Jose, thanks to Roopa Suresh who organised an evening of Karadi stories, dance and craft at the San Jose Library. Here's a video clip from the event, watch Roopa perform to a song from Hanuman The Mighty.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recording with Manna Dey

Our Creative Director and one-third of the band 3 Brothers & A Violin, Narayan Parasuram writes a lovely little note about working with Manna Dey.

It took me several attempts to meet Manna Dey during the creation of Bandar Bindaas Bandar - not that it was difficult to reach him but simply because he could not understand why even a nondescript music director would want to record a song with him (he was 82 then). When I finally met him in his house, he commanded me in his most endearing baritone: "Woh udhar harmonium hai, gaana sunao". Just as I was finishing, he picked up the phone and made a call. From the conversation, I realised, to my surprise, that he was speaking with Yesudas. He spoke to Yesudas about the song, about Karadi if he knew us intimately for a long long time. He convinced Yesudas to sing the song and told me, "Das koyeh gaana cassette mein bhejo, woh gaayega". Much to my own surprise, I found myself telling him, "Sir, if I wanted Yesudas to sing, I would have done so myself, I want you to sing this song". Surprised at this blunt response, he told me that I would have to come to his home and rehearse the song for atleast a week. That one week where I was supposed to teach him this song, was one of the greatest learning experiences for me. 

On the day of the recording, he refused my offer of a car and came in an autorickshaw to Rainbow Studio, bang on time without any assistant or sidekicks. He recorded the song in continuous takes,refused to punch in corrections and insisted on singing the song seamlessly from the beginning to the end. We spent more than 5 hours recording this seemingly simple "song for children" along with Gulzar who had written it. 

'Nadiyaan Mein Paani' is one of the many testimonies to the absolute imaandari to "sur" that Manna Dey embodied. 

Listen to Manna Dey's 'Nadiyaan Mein Paani' here -

RIP Manna Dey

We learnt of the death of the veteran singer, Manna Dey earlier today and we couldn't help but think of the lovely 'Nadiya Mein Paani' that he sang for one of our Karadi Katha titles, Raja Kapi. To listen to this lilting melody written by the renowned poet and Hindi lyricist, Gulzar, click here. RIP Manna Dey Saab, your voice will live on.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rachel's Reviews

Eight-year-old Rachel reviews some of our titles for the San Francisco Book Review. Here's what she has to say about The Story and the Song: "I like this book because it had very pretty pictures and it was really nice to listen to. I like the story (and the song!); I think it is fun that stories get told, so they aren’t forgotten." 

And about Revenge of the Puppets: "I thought this book was very interesting because the pictures were so pretty with all their colors. I liked this book a lot. It was interesting to think about the puppets having feelings, and it was good that the owners were able to make the old puppets look new again." 

And about The Mustache Man: "I liked the pictures; they were funny, but you couldn’t see his face. They were very twirly mustaches. I don’t really understand what this story means, but it’s funny to think about all the villagers with mustaches. I think it’s a good thing that they decided to share their secrets. I liked the book because the pictures were so funny."

And about...oh well, just click on these links to have a look at the entire reviews of some our extremely popular titles.

The Story and the Song by Manasi Subramaniam and Ayswarya Sankaranarayanan -

Revenge of the Puppets by Nadine D'Souza and Ayush Rajvanshi -

The Mustache Man by Priya Ramanathan and Garima Gupta -

Whose Lovely Child Can You Be? by Shobha Viswanath and Christine Tappin -

Tak-Tak! by Soumitra Ranade and Shilo Shiv Suleman -

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meet Our Illustrators - Sadhvi Jawa

Who is Sadhvi Jawa, you ask? If you've picked up An Elephant in My Backyard, one of our newest titles, you'd know about this lovely lady and her work of art. If you haven't, head to the Karadi Tales website and place an order for the book right away! 

Sadhvi teaches at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology and is currently facilitating a 'textile livelihood project' in Drishya Kalika Kendra, a school for the urban poor. Besides teaching, and illustrating for books and websites, she blogs actively at

Sadhvi loves to paint. Of course she does! Paints, brushes, threads, needles, fabric are her mediums of expression. She collects children's books because they make her grin like the Cheshire Cat. She also loves to carry her newly bought books with her everywhere she goes. She strongly believes in visuals and their ability to evoke a wide range of emotions.

She feels that children’s books are also meant for adults who in the process of growing up have forgotten to be a child. We agree with you on that one, Sadhvi!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Meet the Authors - Anushka Ravishankar

Anushka Ravishankar needs no introduction, does she? We all know that she is one of India's most well-loved children's writers and that she, along with Sayoni Basu, founded Duckbill Books. We also know that she is the head of SCBWI, India. Of course we know about her Karadi Tales books, don't we? The SABA-award-winning RumourThe Boy Who Drew Cats, which was listed in the White Ravens catalogue and The Monkeys and the Capseller? Here we have the acclaimed author talking to Karadi about, what else but, children's writing!

Karadi: What made you take up children’s writing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a children’s writer?

Anushka: I often say that I started writing for children because I found so few Indian books for kids when I was looking for them, in the late eighties/early nineties. But that was probably the immediate motivating factor. The deeper reason, perhaps, is that I like children's books. I love reading them, so I guess that's why I like writing them. 
The advantage of writing for children is that you can jump from reality to fantasy and from sense to nonsense, and you know the reader will get it as well as you do. He/she will not frown and say, 'but what's the point of this?' 
The disadvantage is that in India, at least, no one takes you very seriously as a writer. It's like they're all waiting for you to grow up and start writing for adults. 

Karadi: Do you have to like children to be a good children’s author?

Anushka: I don't know what people mean when they ask me if I like children. No one ever asks adult writers if they like adults. I like some children, just as I like some adults. I'm not a people-hater and I'm not a child-hater, but I find that each child is an individual, and that's important for a children's writer to recognise. So in fact I would submit that if you 'like children' in a generic and not-thought-out way, you're likely to be a bad children's author, because you're trying to write to an amorphous mass called 'children' rather than to the particular child who is like you, which is the only child you can write for.  

Karadi: What do you like to read? What are your favourite children’s books? Who are your favourite authors?

Anushka: What I like to read depends on time, place and mood. So it could be anything from Georgette Heyer to Amartya Sen. My favourite children's books can take a few hours to list, so I'll just list the first five that come to mind: Hunting of the Snark, Skellig, Saffy's Angel, The Northern Lights, The Butter Battle Book. 
So the favourite authors follow: Lewis Carroll, David Almond, Hilary McKay, Philip Pullman, Dr Seuss. I'll add Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein.

Karadi: Do you follow a writing routine? How do you go about writing a story?

Anushka: I dislike routine, in life and in writing, so no, I don't follow a writing routine. I write in an eccentric, erratic way which I can't really describe. Much of the initial work happens in my head before I actually sit to write, I think. Not in any rational, organised way, but in a sense of there being something that will take shape when I start the actual process of writing. 

Karadi: What are you currently working on?

Anushka: I have some projects I need to complete - one picture book for Tara and the next book of the Zain & Ana series for Scholastic - but I have very little time, so I haven't written anything in a while.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet Our Illustrators - Shilpa Ranade

Greetings from Karadi Bear everyone! Starting today, we will be featuring profiles and interviews of Karadi illustrators and authors on our blog twice every week. Today, we want you to meet the immensely talented illustrator, animator and film director, Shilpa Ranade.

In case you didn’t know, she is the illustrator of two of our phizz-whizzing books, Monkeys on a Fast and Little Vinayak. While the rights of Monkeys on a Fast have been sold to the UK, Ireland, China and Denmark, Little Vinayak was selected as the Outstanding Title for Children with Disabilities by the International Board on Books for the Young earlier this year.

Apart from being a children’s book illustrator, Shilpa Ranade is also a film maker and an Associate Professor at the Industrial Design Centre at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Her most recent animation film, ‘The World of Goopi and Bagha’ (‘Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa’) premiered at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival in September. The film is an adaptation of one of the most cherished Indian children’s classics, Upendrakishore Roy’ s Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne. Supported by the Children’s Film Society of India and featuring music by 3 Brothers & A Violin, the film features many twists and turns that aren't present in the original work. Here’s the link to the trailer of ‘Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa’:

Karadi Bear simply can’t wait to watch Shilpa’s film!

While you are on YouTube, why don’t you also watch and enjoy a reading of the hilarious What? No Bananas?, the English version of Monkeys on a Fast?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Another Karadi in the Jungle!

Say hello to the newest member on our team, Nithya Sivashankar! 

Having completed an MA in Writing for Children at University of Central Lancashire, England, she joined us as Editor Karadi a week ago. Nithya spent four years in the company of bacteria and fungi before taking up feature writing for newspapers. For reasons unknown even to her, journalism rekindled in her love for children’s books, and two years later, she found herself in a small English town reading and writing about them. In between attending lectures and submitting essays, she went on literary pilgrimages to The Lake District (the magical world of Beatrix Potter), Oxford (to the colleges where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien taught, and to Christ Church meadows where Lewis Carroll spotted a (March) Hare and wrote Alice in Wonderland), the gorgeous Georgian town of Bath (to see the Regency Tea Rooms and Assembly Rooms that Jane Austen wrote about) and Edinburgh (where she spotted the graves of one Mr. McGonagall and a certain Thomas Riddle). She also met Paddington Bear at London Paddington, and said hello to The Gruffalo and its creator at New Castle. Now that she’s back in India and is on our team, we welcome her to be part of the wild rumpus in the Karadi jungle! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Wednesday Bazaar

Bela’s lost her Ma at the bazaar! Where could she have gone? With the help of a whole new host of friends including an intrepid goat and a man who walks on air, Bela sets off to find her Ma! Join Bela’s lively afternoon at the Wednesday bazaar in Neha Singh’s whimsical tale, rendered by Sonal Gupta in the jewel-toned hues of an Indian summer.

The Wednesday Bazaar is now available for purchase on our website. Click here to buy your copies!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Bapuji's birthday!

Happy Gandhi Jayanthi, everyone! Celebrate the day by listening to Bapuji's favourite bhajan here - Do not forget to pick up a copy of Karadi Tales' abridged version of Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography - The Story of My Experiments With Truth! The text is adapted by Anushka Ravishankar and Shobha Viswanath, and the art work is by Thotta Tharrani. The audiobook features the voices of Shekhar Kapur and Nandita Das, and music by 3 Brothers & A Violin. 

Karadi Bear

The Fox and the Crow reviewed by Uma Krishnaswami

Children’s author and teacher of writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Uma Krishnaswami reviews one of our hot-off-the-press titles, The Fox and the Crow on her blog, ‘Writing with a broken tusk’- This dark retelling of the popular Aesop’s fable written by Manasi Subramaniam and illustrated by Culpeo S. Fox is now available on our website.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kirkus reviews An Elephant in My Backyard

Kirkus reviews An Elephant in My Backyard written by Shobha Viswanath and illustrated by Sadhvi Jawa.

Click Here to read the review. Our books are available online through Amazon and the Karadi Tales Website.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Karadi Tales at Publishing Next 2013

Manasi Subramaniam represents Karadi Tales, at the recent Publishing Next.

She spoke on two panel discussions at Publishing Next 2013 in Goa on 20 and 21 September. She participated in a panel entitled Indian Content and its Global Future along with Ameya Nagarajan, Arpita Das, Namita Gokhale, Praba Ram and Praveena Shivram.

She also conducted a workshop on strategies for trading rights: understanding the rights trade, preparing oneself, things to remember.