New picture books, old stories: folktales and fables...

Jul 7, 2013 by

The danger in re-telling old stories is that if they don’t bring a fresh perspective, they can seem tired and uninteresting. Especially because folktales are  more ‘moralistic’,  re-working them in a way that makes them more creative and engaging is important. Making picture books out of traditional stories is a great way of adding fresh visual appeal, and if the text is written well, it can give new life to an old story.  When looking at folktale re-tellings, I think keeping in mind how the text flows is crucial. Traditionally all these stories were told orally, and they had a certain rhythm and lilt to them because the storyteller would be narrating them to his/her audience. Two picture books I found recently were  good attempts at re-telling popular folktales. I don’t know how much...

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Keeping it simple: paper, pen & ink...

Jul 2, 2013 by

When I started illustrating, one of the first mediums I was drawn to (pardon the pun :)) experiment with was pen and ink. There is something so classic about black and white, and the intensity and energy of black strokes on paper; I love it. Probably the most basic way of working with pen and ink is the humble dip pen. It is also the most inexpensive start to trying out a medium– basic nibs cost approximately 20-50 cents/12-30 rupees each. If you use them a lot they do wear out pretty quickly, but luckily getting replacements isn’t costly or difficult. If you’re trying dip pens for the first time I encourage you to take a few different types of nibs so you can see the varied results you can get. I started out...

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More than just a novelty: the art of die-cut picture books...

Jul 1, 2013 by

I think  ‘novelty’  is a rather unfortunate term commonly used to reference certain types of children’s books. I suppose books that use die-cuts or other techniques in their printing process are seen as ‘jazzed up’, and hence have a novelty factor. It still bothers me that just because these books have something more than the regular printed page, they are often times considered slightly better because of their  bells and whistles. It is very similar to how many people equate good apps as those with more animation and interactivity, losing track of the fact that at its core a successful kid’s app is one with a great story. A lot of the time these types of ‘special effects’  distract from, rather than focus on, the essential storytelling aspect. However, when creators have a unique story,...

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Be curious: moulding a scientific mind through picture books...

Jun 13, 2013 by

I used to despise physics and mathematics in school. I was happy to leave them far behind as soon as it was possible. I couldn’t relate to them in any way and they felt so distant, boring and inconsequential. It was clearly a result of the way I was introduced to the subjects. I just wish someone had inculcated in me the wonder and spirit of science at the start. I found it so limiting, which it is everything but. Two picture books I read recently made me feel like science was exciting; a revelation indeed!   Infinity and Me  (written by  Kate Hosford  and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska) is a picture book that was published in 2012, and talks about the mathematical concept of infinity. Through the inquiring mind of 8-year-old Uma, we begin to ponder about...

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