Monday, November 6, 2017

Flapping Fins with Lavanya Karthik

When Lavanya Karthik was a little kid, all she wanted to do was make up stories and draw pictures. Now that she's a slightly bigger kid, that is pretty much all she does. She lives in Mumbai, where she writes and illustrates children's book and takes a lot of naps. She also makes comics and writes speculative fiction for adults. For Karadi Tales, she wrote and illustrated The Lion’s Feast, as well as our newest title, Fly, Little Fish!


What inspired you to write Fly, Little Fish?
My own efforts at writing, drawing and long-distance running, actually.  But it applies to pretty much anything you love enough to want to get better at, right? You never stop trying, however impossible the task might seem, or how slowly you seem to be progressing. You keep flapping your fins, keep jumping . . .

How did you get into writing for children?
I was always a voracious reader, and I’ve been writing stories and doodling pictures for as long as I can remember. So even as a kid, I remember wanting to be a writer when I was older. But it wasn’t until I became a parent that I started taking those childhood dreams seriously. I started with writing down the little stories and rhymes I made up for my daughter, then began sending them out to various publishers of children’s books.  I also began illustrating children’s books, which was, and remains, a terrific learning experience. After a lot of failed attempts (or, should I say, flapping of fins) my book The Lion’s Feast was published by Karadi Tales.

In addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, you write comics and speculative fiction for adults. Do you find the process of writing for adults and children very different? If so, why?
I see it less as writing for a specific age group, than as telling a story the best way I can. So, the process is much the same – endless writing and rewriting (or redrawing), ruthless editing, more writing, much wringing of hands, pulling of hair and eating of chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. And eventually, it’s done.

What do you like to read? Did you have a favourite picture book as a child?
I read everything- books of every kind, street signs, bus tickets, labels on pickle jars. You never know where your next idea could come from! But the genres I read the most are middle-grade and YA fiction. I don’t think the concept of picture books even existed way back when I was a kid – in fact, I probably did not see a picture book until I became a parent myself. What I do recall being very attached to was a stack of beautifully illustrated books from the erstwhile USSR, including the classic, When Daddy was a Little Boy by Alexander Raskin. 

Finally, could you give us any hints about what you’re working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a picture book for Karadi Tales, and the third instalment of the ‘Ninja Nani’ series published by Duckbill. Meanwhile, simmering slowly on the backburner is a middle grade fantasy set in a little town in the Himalayas.

Monday, October 23, 2017

With Flying Colours

One of our newest titles is Fly, Little Fish!, a charming little tale by Lavanya Karthik about an intrepid little fish who wants to explore the skies. Ashwathy P.S. took on the challenge of illustrating this story in a unique style inspired by Indian folk art, and helped give Little Fish her colourful, unique personality! Here’s a short interview with Ashwathy, where she discusses her experience with illustrating for Karadi Tales.
Ashwathy P.S. is an artist and graphic designer, who graduated from Stella Maris College with a degree in Fine Arts.

KARADI TALES: When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist and designer?
ASHWATHY P.S.: My penchant for art developed at a very early age — as a child I would sketch random things and find inspiration everywhere. Even in school I loved doing all sorts of arts and crafts, much more than studying other subjects. My art teacher from school was a great influence. He’s the one who made me realise that I could do something in this field and create something of my own as an artist or designer.

KT: What medium do you prefer working with?
APS: I prefer oils any day. I love blending and mixing colours. Oil is not a very easy medium, but once you get the hang of it, you will fall in love. My second favourite is photo ink. The bright colours just make me happy.

KT: Is there any particular artist who inspires you, or who has had a big influence on you?
APS: I find inspiration in many places. Whether it’s a work by a 10-year-old or by Picasso I find something to take back with me. As I mentioned earlier, my art teacher has also been a big influence. Four years of art history in college also exposed me to so many different art movements that have left an impact.

KT: You worked on the counting book One Dark Cloud for Karadi Tales. What was this experience like?
APS: Working as a junior graphic designer for a publishing house like Karadi is a dream come true. One Dark Cloud was a whole new experience and my first ever collage book. This book was made entirely by cutting and pasting different kinds of materials, ranging from cloth to different textured papers, depending on the feel of the elements portrayed. Figuring out what material works where and painting the first few background layers was time consuming. Working on this book was an exercise in learning more about different materials and how to conceptualize different elements of the book. It also made me think like a child, and wonder about how a child would imagine all of these. This book was designed completely in-house with the assistance of our intern, Anusha Sundar. Overall, it was a fun-filled experience of learning and exploring different mediums.
We made a tactile version of this book as well, which made it to the top 10 of the National Tactile Book Competition, Typhlo and Tactus.

KT: Tell us about the illustrations in your upcoming release Fly, Little Fish!
APS: Fly, Little Fish! is technically my third book for Karadi (the first being Karadi Rhymes 3). Our publisher asked me, quite unexpectedly, to sketch a fish in the Gond (an Indian folk art) style. When I showed her my work, she really liked the style and the way I conceptualized the fish. She asked me to illustrate the book using a storyboard that had been created by the illustrator Satwik Gade.
I took over from the story board and started my work, spread by spread. The art from Fly, Little Fish! is inspired by the Gond style, an ancient art form that emerged from central India. It is characterized by fine lines, dots and dashes. The illustrations in this book use this technique along with bright acrylic colours. Every element in this book is hand drawn and hand painted. Little Fish is my favourite character, and it will always be close to my heart.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Culpeo S. Fox’s illustrations turn every children’s picture book into a work of art, and each visual has the ability to take your breath away. We catch up with the phenomenal artist who illustrated The Fox and The Crow, and has also illustrated our next release A Tangle of Brungles, to find out what inspires her to create these unforgettable images. The Fox and The Crow is our book of the month, and is available at 20% off till Aug 31st  at

KARADI TALES: As an artist, what inspires you?
CULPEO S. FOX: The source of my inspiration is life itself - with all its ingredients and influences. Art follows life and this perception is a major key to understand my very own definition of what I call "Method Art".

KT:  What is your creative process?
CSF: My creative process is rather chaotic and random, something that never really is "under control". I look at it less as a creative process but see it more as a constant search for traces and listening to voices, the work of a hunter; having all senses ready and open for any kind of inspiration which very often hits you completely unexpectedly.

KT: The Fox and the Crow was listed in the prestigious White Ravens catalog and in the list of Best Children’s books by the New York Public Library -  how did it feel when you received these accolades?
CSF: It felt beautifully surreal.

KT: What is the most memorable thing that a reader or reviewer has said about your illustrations?
CSF: I always am deeply (and even after all those years still awkwardly) flattered by every kind word that people have used to describe my work. Speaking of The Fox And The Crow, though, Kirkus Reviews pretty much provided the personal icing of the cake when they called it "Aesop Noir".

KT: Tell us a bit more about your upcoming book with Karadi Tales – A Tangle of Brungles
CSF: A Tangle Of Brungles was a joy to work on (and after The Fox And The Crow, another "home match" for me - lots of snakes and lizards and critters to draw, plus Indian witches with their backward feet and wry humour - what's not to like?) and I love all the nuances of (author) Shobha's excellent poetry that goes along with it.

Friday, August 4, 2017

She chases away the night monsters

Our Jarul Book Award-winning title “The Night Monster” written by Sushree Mishra and illustrated by Sanket Pethkar is a beautiful story about the bond between siblings, and how a wise older sister helps her young brother get over his fear of the dark. We catch up with the author Sushree Mishra in this interview.

To buy The Night Monster at a 30% discount this Raksha Bandhan, visit (offer valid till Aug 10)

What inspired the plot of The Night Monster?

To tell you the truth, my own fears of the night inspired the plot. As a child, I used to be scared of nights. To a lesser degree, I still am.

I was alone one night with my three-year-old son when the electricity went out. I had to think of a way of calming my son (and myself) down, and that is when the idea of confronting our fears by engaging with them came about. 

Are the characters based on children you know?

As an educator and a storyteller, I interact with kids regularly. The main character Avi, though named after my own son, is like most children I have interacted with when it comes to fears. 

What was the most memorable thing a reader or fan has said to you about this book?

I have had many children come up and tell me how excited they are to meet the `night monster' that night. But the most memorable response I got was from an elder sibling, who told me that he would make sure his little sister is not afraid of the dark anymore.

What was your reaction to winning the Jarul Book Award?

As an author, one is always thrilled to see one's work appreciated. But what makes the Jarul Book Award particularly special is that it is judged by children. To have gotten a thumbs up from my young readers feels wonderful! Thank you Karadi tales and Jarul book committee for this special award. 

Do you have a Raksha Bandhan message for Karadi Tales fans? 

Make your sibling your best friend, while enjoying the magical moments of childhood together. Love, accept and respect your siblings wholeheartedly. Happy Raksha Bandhan!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How Sameer came to be - an interview with Nandini Nayar, author of the Curious Sameer series

She created the adorable Sameer and his equally lovable mum. The series of four books, all of which have stories that are told in riddle format, are a huge hit with Karadi Tales readers. We interview author Nandini Nayar about what inspired her to write these books.

Our Curious Sameer series is available at 40% off until July 31, 2017 -

Karadi Tales: What was your inspiration for the Sameer series?  

Nandini Nayar: Children are bored very easily and come to you for suggestions about what they can do. My son did this too, but naturally, he did not like any of my suggestions.  This led to my writing a story about a boy who challenges his mother every time she offers a suggestion. When Karadi took the story, they asked me for another to go with this. And since the first one – What Will You Give Me?- had set the question-answer pattern between the boy and his mother, I thought of other questions that the boy could ask. That’s how What Will I Be?, What Could it Be? and Where Shall We Go? came about.

KT: Is Sameer based on anyone you know?

NN: I think Sameer is a mix of all the children I’ve observed over the years, my own son, the children of friends and cousins. What they all have in common is the creative ease with which they find faults in any suggestion made by a grown-up.   

KT: How did you get into children’s writing?

NN: The best way possible- I wrote a story that was published in a newspaper and that was it – my fate was sealed. I was so inspired by that one publication that I wrote and wrote and wrote and continue to write! 

KT: How do you test if the stories you’ve written work for children?
NN: My early picture book stories were made up for my son. He loved them and that gave me the courage to send them to a publishing house. When a story is successfully transferred from your mind to paper, you are filled with a breathless certainty that you’ve just created something good, something that sparkles and lives and breathes. When I experience that kind of certainty about something, I know that children will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


When do you find it easiest to write?
When I’ve been thinking, dreaming, breathing a story for some time.   

Your favourite children’s book?
Peppermint Pig, Pinhoe Egg, Howl’s Moving Castle and several others.  

One author you admire?
Diana Wynne Jones

Your favourite encounter with a fan?
A boy who was so overcome at meeting me that he couldn’t speak at all, just smiled and smiled and smiled.

If you could be a book character for a day who would it be?
I’d like to be Apoorva, from my own series titled ‘The Diary of an Indian Schoolgirl’. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Behind the scenes of the Curious Sameer series

The Curious Sameer series is one of Karadi Tales’ most popular series and features a little boy with a thirst for adventure, a strong bond with his ever-patient mother and an active imagination. We interview Francesco Manetti, the multi-talented illustrator of the four books in the Sameer series. He tells us about what inspires him, his creative process and his deep connection with Karadi Tales. 

Our Curious Sameer series is available at 40% off until July 31, 2017 -

 Click On

Karadi Tales: What made you take on the project with an Indian publisher?
Francesco Manetti: Karadi Tales was the first publisher that placed their trust in me as an illustrator. I sent my portfolio without knowing what would happen, and after a few days, I received my official job proposal for a collaboration with a publisher. It has been so exciting and great, and I will always be grateful to Karadi Tales for this chance.

KT: What was your inspiration for the illustrations in the Sameer series?

FM: The colours of nature, on a surreal/abstract and imaginary dimension. But of course, the stories I was working on gave me all the elements with which I built the scenarios, both at the emotional and at the fantasy level.

KT: Is the design of Sameer based on anyone you know?

FM: No, I created the features based on pictures and photos.

KT: How did you get into illustrating books for children?

FM: It all started during my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, Italy. When I started in 2005, I was more focused on digital illustration and graphic design, but step by step, I started learning to draw and paint and I discovered how beautiful it is to create images by hand. Then I discovered how pictures can be put alongside words into a book. I also have a big love for colours, and during my studies, I had classes on illustrated books for children: that's the connection. I understood that my love for illustration, colours and composing/layout could be summed up in these magical and poetical art pieces that illustrated books for children are.

KT: What types of media did you use for the artwork?

FM: I have worked on wooden panels, on which I spread a base of white acrylic plaster, creating a sort of background ripple effect. Then, I translated the storyboard through acrylic painting colours and colour pencils. Finally, I made some interventions with the digital illustration software Photoshop, setting the pictures to the text layout requirements.


When do you find it easiest to work?

When I find the right inspiration, for example, after a visit to an art exposition, or after a walk in nature, or after a talk with a friend.

Your favourite children’s book?

“The man of water and his fountain” by Ivo Rosati and Gabriel Pacheco

One artist you admire?

Bruno Munari, a great Italian artist who was a great contributor to children’s publishing and to the science of education and communication.

Your favourite encounter with a fan?

I have never had an experience like this, but if one day this should happen, I would give the fan my complete attention and all the answers he or she is looking for.

If you could be a book character for a day who would it be?

I would be a horse that rides free in an infinite prairie, or a bear walking slowly in the woods or sleeping quietly in the morning sun. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The creator of Bela series on what inspires her stories

She created the lovable little girl from the books ‘Bela Misses Her Train’ and ‘The Wednesday Bazaar’. Karadi Tales catches up with talented author Neha Singh and finds out what inspired her to write these much-adored children’s books.To buy both books in the Bela series at a special discount of 40%, click here. Offer ends July 31, 2017. 

Karadi Tales: What was your inspiration for The Wednesday Bazaar and Bela Misses Her Train?

Neha Singh: I wanted to write Indian stories for Indian children. Indian characters with Indian names and quirks, in spaces that are typically ours. Both books deal with getting lost in public spaces, which is something most children can relate with and it can be an emotionally overwhelming experience. I have also very strong memories of getting lost at a bus depot as a five-year-old, and the relief and emotions I felt when I finally spotted my family. I think that memory was the basis of the two books. I also remember being helped by strangers in such situations, people from varied classes. It is not always 'stranger-danger', many times the community comes together to help children out too. That is why in both the books strangers help Bela reunite with her family. 

KT: Is Bela based on anyone you know?

NS: Yes, Bela is my niece, my sister's daughter. She will turn eight this year. The real Bela is smart, brave, mischievous and a problem solver, just like the character in the book. 

KT:  You are also a theatre artiste and the founder of Why Loiter. How does your activism come into play in your fiction writing?

NS: Why loiter? is a women's movement that I started in 2014 to reclaim public spaces. In my books too, the protagonists are invariably girls, who are in public spaces. They are not scared or timid, they are just having fun. When they get into trouble, they are proactive in finding solutions and take help of others. My characters are neither princesses nor witches, they are regular girls with a desire to engage with the world around them, with curiosity and amazement, not fear or suspicion. 

KT: Do you find the process of writing for adults and children very different. If so, why?

NS: Yes, I maintain that children's books are far wiser than grown-ups' books, and one needs to have a knack of saying unique things in the minimum number of words to make a good children's book. Simplicity and imagination are the two key ingredients in a children's book. Having said that, writing a book for adults can be a very long and lonely process. 

When do you find it easiest to write? 
When I can see the story from beginning to end in my head, like a film, animation film, preferably. 

Your favourite children’s book? 
So many! Roald Dahl's stories, R.K. Narayan's stories for children, Ruskin Bond's books for children. Enid Blyton remains an all time favourite. 

An author you admire? 
Padmashri Vijaydan Detha. 

Your favourite encounter with a fan? 
Shilpa Phadke (author of Why Loiter? the book) who I am a big fan of, her daughter Anamika, has come for my storytelling sessions and bought both Bela books. It’s a beautiful circle of fans. 

If you could be a book character for a day who would it be?
I would be Swami from Malgudi days, and experience what it must have been like to be a schoolkid in pre-independence India.