At Tara Books, they don’t believe in an ideal reader; rather, they believe that every book finds its reader. Founder Gita Wolf says this has stood them in good stead over the years, helping them bring out books they believe in. “Being uncompromising about a book’s integrity has also earned us respect,” she adds. The last two decades have seen them pioneer a lot—like bringing tribal and folk traditions into books and experimenting with form (from content and design to paper and printing). “ln a rapidly homogenising world which feeds children with bland visuals that are colourful and cartooney, it’s important to expose them to a variety of styles and renderings. Here the rich folk and tribal traditions in India play a big role. What children enjoy and grow into is ultimately determined by what they are exposed to,” Wolf elaborates. Looking to the future, she explains that they will be releasing a book in collaboration with artists from the Bhil tribal community, whose brightly coloured paintings made up of lines and dots instantly appeal to a young audience. Called Tree Matters it introduces children to the Bhil way of life.
—Surya Praphulla Kumar
Making print sense
Art is inseparable from the text in Tara Books’ publications. So when enquiries started pouring in for prints of the art works, signed by the artists, they brought out several limited-edition collections. Wolf picks two of her favourites.
Drawing from the City: “Created by Teju Behan, who belongs to the nomadic manganyars of Rajasthan, it tells the story of how drought forced them to come to Ahmedabad. I love her drawings because of her representation of women—they are always on the move, riding cycles, driving cars or jumping out of planes with
Creation: “The art work from this new handmade book, illustrated by Bhajju Shyam, retells the Gond myths of creation. My favourites are the ones showing the creation of plants—a seed with different varieties of foliage coming out of it—and animals—with an egg at the centre. Between Rs.1,000 and Rs.20,000 Details: tarabooks.com
The Nightlife of Trees, Rs.1,350
“It is an extraordinarily beautiful book, handprinted and handbound. Three Gond artists—Bhajju Shyam, Ram Singh Urveti and Durga Bai—have expressed their cosmos through the trees. The Gonds believe that trees are very busy during the day, giving shade, shelter and food. But when the sun sets, the spirits are free. It’s both imaginative and profound, and the art is exquisite. Over 65,000 handmade copies have been sold worldwide since it released in 2006.”
—A Child’s View, Rs.650
“This one is an Indian bestseller and has been constantly in print since it was first published in 1996. It was written and illustrated by Samhita Arni when she was just 12. Though the Mahabharata is always a great story, this is a fresh and honest take on it. Samhita is very critical of war throughout. She has written the story clearly and illustrated everything—a huge achievement for a young girl.”
Jungle Book, Rs.750
“This is my favourite book because it reverses the anthropological gaze. A lot of people, foreigners included, write about tribes. But here Bhajju Shyam, a Gond tribal, has written about them—the book is his impressions of his London visit. Released in 2004, it is also important because it gives a voice and perspective that has never been heard before. Charmingly done, it tells truths about travel and being a stranger in a new city.”
Cookiie Pie Co was created by Shami Syed, a doting grandfather, when he found a lack of “fashionable and functional accessories for babies in the age group of 0 – 2 yrs in India.” Started as a hobby, he turned it into a business when a family crisis forced him to care for his daughter and granddaughter. “Hence, part of the proceeds go towards helping out women and children in distress. We are still learning and growing the brand, adapting it to the tastes of new moms all over India and the world and giving back to the society at the same time,” shares Syed.
On the shelves
What began as a baby accessory business now has expanded to included pure cotton ergonomic ring sling baby carriers for mothers, portable fabric travel chairs that sport chic India-inspired prints, colourful full-sleeved weaning bibs and fabric toys to engage babies’ senses, apart from accessories for soft-structured baby carriers and fabric headbands. From chevron and paisley printed slings to fabric owl toys and headbands and clips in fun colours with cheery motifs such as ice creams, flowers, butterflies and bows, mothers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dressing up their little dolls.
“We engage vendors who
offer the finest and softest cotton fabric for your baby’s skin for all our premium products namely Ring Slings, Travel High Chair, Cloth album, Headbands, Tactile Toys and the Carrier Accessories. We avoid the use of non-fabric embellishments as much as possible to ensure only that which feels natural is in your baby’s hands. It puts our minds at ease and same goes for the parents too,” Syed explains.
Rs.250 upwards. Details: facebook.com/cookiiepieco
Walk the talk
The Babywearing practice walk
in preparation for the Pinkathon on February 22, this Saturday, is geared towards strengthening the bond between a mother and her child. Organised by Babywearing India and Bangalore Birth Network, it will also stress on the importance of remaining active through both the pre and post-natal periods. Give Cookie Pie Co a call to get yourself some trendy slings. 8 am. At Cubbon Park. Details: 9972305440