Thursday, August 24, 2017

Creative Non-fiction

Non-fiction = information books = general knowledge = better marks. This is how the genre has usually been seen with regard to children, and this is a reason why it is much in demand among parents and teachers dealing with a marks-centred education system.

Information, certainly, but in creative ways – this was the challenge Tulika took upon itself 20 years ago with its very first non-fiction titles.

Since then, its strong non-fiction list for ages 2 to 16 has done a fine balancing act of information, stories, graphics, illustrations and photographs to give the reader a lot more than just facts, covering many issues green and gender as well as people, places and events, and in a rich variety of formats…

Read and Colour Stories offers a hands-on way for young children to understand and explore information. The four Freedom and four River stories are told along with well-researched line drawings so that children absorb visual details as they colour the pictures and read the story-like texts. 

Looking at Art is a unique series that leads children into the world and sensibilities of some of India’s best known artists – contemporary, traditional and folk. Through story, memoir and biography, children look at art and understand aesthetics. The books give young readers a wider and more inclusive idea of art.

The books in the series are on the art of painters M. F. Husain, Ravi Varma, Amrita Sher-Gil, Jamini Roy, K. G. Subramanyan and Paritosh Sen, and clay artist Sonabai. Stitching Stories, based on an animation film, is a striking visual narrative through applique and embroidery. Cave Art unfolds the story of art with photographs of the ancient paintings at the Bhimbetka Caves in Madhya Pradesh alongside creative reproductions of rock art. In A for Ajrakh: The A to Z of Block Printing, each letter sparks off an aspect of block printing on textile, so that by Z for Zafran what we get is a fascinating patchwork of the styles, the motifs, the blocks, the dyes, and the skilled people who sustain and invigorate a centuries-old intricate craft.

First Look Science has five books that are perfect for a child’s first introduction to science, because they were born as pictures. In a classroom project with The Srishti School of Design, Bengaluru, students were asked to visualise five sets of scientific facts on different topics. They did this through the fantasy adventures of Bhoomi, Boondi, Dhooli, Gitti and Beeji, bringing in basic concepts about space, water, air, earth and the earth’s surface. The stunning illustrations convey the beauty, vastness and mystery of nature, enriching the storytelling experience. The science is summed up at the end of each book. 

My Gandhi Story by Nina Sabnani and Ankit Chadha, illustrated by Rajesh Chaitya Vangad, came out of four large paintings displayed in an exhibition on Gandhi. In a unique collaboration, this brought together a Warli tribal artist, an animation filmmaker and a storyteller. While the artist was inspired to paint Gandhi's life simply because “he was like us”, the curating of the visuals was inspired by the delightful details in the paintings, picked and highlighted with care. Telling the story in three distinct voices – of a questioning child, a narrator who responds, and Bapu himself – lends intimate subjectivity to a much-published subject.

Gender Talk: Big Hero Size Zero ‘talks’ directly to teens about a complex subject with empathy and in a language they would understand. Uncovering truths, untruths, semi-truths and myths, using everyday examples as well as references to popular media, and with a humorous cartoon commentary running alongside, the book explores what it means socially and culturally to belong to a certain gender.

Fact+Fiction is the series with the winning combination of both!

Other non-fiction titles:

Fact + Fiction series
Jagadish and the Talking Plant: Pioneering scientist J.C. Bose

Non Fiction Picture Books 

Coming up: In the next post, we will look at our latest non-fiction title India Through Archaeology: Excavating History

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