Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A clean sweep at The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards 2018

We're over the moon to have won in ALL four categories in The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards 2018. Here are the full citations from the jury:


CHATURA RAO for Gone Grandmother

Addressing the subject of death and loss, especially for children, can be a challenging task. Chatura Rao's Gone Grandmother handles this theme with sensitivity, empathy and that is not easy to achieve in a picture book. The author poignantly captures the nuances of a young child’s puzzlement about her 'missing' Nani while portraying the special bond they shared. The splendid manner in which Rao juxtaposes the child's natural curiosity and youthful imagination to help her find her own answers is easily the book's greatest strength. Not to mention, the unexpected touches of humour that leave the reader smiling every now and then. The subtle, introspective illustrations complement the text perfectly, adding mood and tenderness to the story.
Gone Grandmother is a gem of a picture book that fills the spaces in the heart created by the loss of a loved one. What is remarkable is that it also creates a space where young readers can open up to their feelings and talk about difficult things.


NANCY RAJ for Maharani the Cow

Nancy Raj’s illustrations for Maharani the Cow exemplify the true magic of the picture book format – they transport you to a world that exists beyond just the words on the page. A seemingly simple story of a cow obstructing traffic becomes the backdrop for a universe inhabited by a colourful cast of characters with their own little stories. The charm of Raj’s pictures lies in her treatment of familiar situations with her quirky style and subtle humour. Her observational details – be it the nonchalance of the cow and its antics or the mayhem caused by children in a school bus – make every situation infinitely more entertaining. By playing with shifting, dramatic perspectives, she removes the linearity of the narrative and creates an immersive experience for the reader. The design and format of the book also complement the illustrations. Ultimately, Raj successfully manages to take a succinct story and layer it with plenty of action and comic flair to keep young readers engaged over several readings.


MINI SHRINIVASAN for The Boy With Two Grandfathers

Mini Shrinivasan's The Boy With Two Grandfathers is about a boy dealing with the news that his beloved mother has incurable cancer. Shrinivasan's sensitive and insightful depiction of how the boy's two grandfathers rally to his aid lifts the story out of the ordinary. It has the courage to raise a subject that used to be dismissed, at least until quite recently, as inappropriate for children. The simple, precise and unadorned writing not only avoids the temptations of sentimentality and high drama, but also offers a much-needed recasting of men as nurturers. Shrinivasan's novel is sure to comfort and illuminate young readers, irrespective of whether they are in a similar predicament or not. It will serve to inspire similar courageous works in children's fiction. One can ask no more of an author or a story.


DEVIKA CARIAPA for India Through Archaeology: Excavating History

Devika Cariapa’s labour of love, India Through Archaeology: Excavating History, pulls off the
deceptively simple but enormously difficult task of encapsulating India’s past through the archaeological record. Foregrounding the archaeologist as a scientist who studies how humans lived, an intrepid adventurer who seeks to uncover lost civilisations, a detective who fills the gaping holes in our collective knowledge and a storyteller who assembles tales from the past, Cariapa surveys Indian history from the prehistoric times to the present. The purported scope and breadth of this work is ambitious and immense but Cariapa shows herself more than equipped for the task. The book is, in addition, a visual delight. India Through Archaeology: Excavating History is a very important work that not only fills a lacuna in books of this genre for young readers, engaging them in a non-patronising manner, but also proposes a strategy for dealing with history and archaeology in a more open and less contentious manner at a time when these have become hotly-contested fields.



And here's a few quick video interviews right after the awards from 

(L to R) Chatura Rao, Devika Cariapa, Mini Shrinivasan, Nandhika Nambi, Nancy Raj

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Skyping about Arif

In this delightful Guest Post, Zai Whitaker describes her experiences of discussing ‘Andamans Boy’ on Skype with the Grade 6 kids of the École Mondiale World School in Mumbai.

Last week I had a most enjoyable Skype chat with Grade 6 of the École Mondiale World School in Mumbai. One of their English readers is Andamans Boy, and this is the second year we have had this interaction. For me, it was a very rewarding experience because the students’ comments and questions showed that they had understood the novel perfectly, and got the gist in exactly the way I wanted it to be got… which is always a good high for the writer. In fact it was a great relief, because the previous such interaction, with a motley group from motley schools, was simply a long attack on me about why Arif hadn’t returned to the mainland and to his loving aunt and large fortune. They were so far off the mark — i.e. my intention  that I was hard put to find any meeting ground at all, and was finally just grateful to have (sort of) survived with dignity (somewhat) intact.

But this Ecole Mondale group was delighted that Arif had had the sense to run away from home and to stay on with the Jarawa even when he had the chance to return. Very briefly, the story centres around Arif, who — at chapter 1  is ten, and has lost his parents in a car accident. He is living with a not-so-nice aunt and uncle, who are after the money (lots) he will inherit at eighteen, and have prised him away from his aunt Mumtaz, whom he loves and would much rather be with. To cut a short story shorter, he runs off to the Andamans and ends up in the Jarawa Reserve where he finally finds human warmth and understanding and all that good stuff. 

Post-Skype, the question that has stayed in my mind was about how much of me, i.e. Zai, was part of the book. That has got me thinking — way past the skype chat  and actually, there was quite a bit of me in it including the running away from home. One summer holiday afternoon, when my brother was teasing me even more than usual, I packed two pairs of shorts and two shirts and some other sundry necessities, and left home for good. But there was a stray dog at the end of our lane, so I waited for five or so minutes but it had no intention of leaving. So I went back expecting a relieved and rapturous welcome back from my siblings, with promises never, ever to tease again. But they didn’t even notice I was back! And indeed, hadn’t noticed that I’d run away, either.

As for the descriptions of the Islands and Arif’s experiences there, I only had to jog my memory. I have made several trips there, the first two on rickety old ships, just like Arif. The first one was four days and three nights long. And deck talk was often about the Jarawa, and Onge, and Sentinelese. My first landing at Port Blair was also a bit fraught, like his. In those days  the early 1970s  foreigners were not allowed on the archipelago except with a special permit that was pretty hard to get. Well, the ship anchored in Port Blair harbour and a group of cops immediately came up to me and asked for my permit. No no, I said, I am Indian. But your name is Whitaker, said they, that’s not an Indian name. Show your passport. Well, said I, as an Indian I’m not required to… And so on. The outcome was that I was taken to the police station, and told I’d have to stay there for two days until the ship left for Chennai. And I’d be on it. 

But a wonderful, unexpected, magic-fairy person turned up and rescued me. That, however, is another story.


Zai Whitaker grew up in Mumbai, in a family of naturalists. She has written novels, stories and poems for children – including Andamans Boy, Kali and the Rat Snake and Kanna Panna published by Tulika. She now lives and works at the Madras Crocodile Bank near Chennai, which she helped ‘Snake Man’ Rom Whitaker set up almost 40 years ago. 

Here's a list of books that she’s written for Tulika:

Read Aloud Stories (contributed to the anthology)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Exclusive Inclusive Book List

Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand? by Sheila Dhir was the first book on disability we published in 1999. Since then almost every year we have published disability-themed books, some with a child with a disability as the protagonist and some where the child/children are just present in the story along with other children.

To quote Roshni Subhash, whose very perceptive reviews of three of the books we are carrying in another post, “In these books, disability gains visibility in the storytelling. Through them, one sees children with disabilities in many roles – as part of groups, as individuals at turning points in their lives, as heroes.” (full article here!) The books offer a great way opening a conversation with children about disability, the first step in sensitising them to the issue.

On the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3rd), we are listing the books and offering them at a special price. Use the code ABLE to get a 15 % discount from now till the 10 December 2017. 

by Lavanya Karthik, pictures by Proiti Roy

by Sandhya Rao, pictures by Tanvi Bhat

by Ken Spillman, pictures by Manjari Chakravarti

by Zai Whitaker, pictures by Niloufer Wadia

by Sowmya Rajendran, pictures by Arun Kaushik

by Tharini Vishwanath, pictures by Nancy Raj

by Anthara Mohan, pictures by Rajiv Eipe

by Shefalee Jain

by Sandhya Rao, pictures by Srividya Natarajan

text and photographs by Melanie Kunz, pictures by Srivi

by Jerry Pinto, pictures by Sayan Mukherjee

by Sheila Dhir

by Urmila Shetty

Some of our books are also being used by Chennai-based Chetana Charitable Trust. They actively work with children with disabilities, particularly those with vision problems, and they have the following books in their library. They find the books work very well with the children in different ways. 

Line and Circle by Radhika Menon, pictures by Trotsky Marudu

My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Rao, pictures by Nina Sabnani

Gadagada Gudugudu by Jeeva Raghunath, pictures by Jeyanthi Manokaran

Look, the Moon! by Sandhya Rao, pictures by Trotsky Marudu

Aana and Chena by Sowmya Rajendran, pictures by Renuka Rajiv

Here is Dr Namita Jacob, Director of Chetana, the first reader who bought A Walk with Thambi at the Tulika Bookstore. You too can get a copy in English and 8 other Indian languages at the online store

Stay tuned for a guest review of A Walk with Thambi on our Instagram.#tulikasbooksondisability