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    Publishers add a dash of fun to children’s learning with books
    like Little i and Where Shall We Go, Big Black Crow?

    arents of young children often grapple with the choice of an educative book versus a fun read for their kids. Picture books that explore traditional themes in innovative ways are emerging as part of the solution. Chennai-based Tulika Books and Bangalore outfit Little Latitude have established their reputation as publishers keen to inject a dose of fun into traditional learning. Their latest picture books—Little i, What Can You Do with Red, Yellow and Blue? and Where Shall We Go, Big Black Crow?—work with authors and illustrators from India, the US and the UK to do just that: have educational themes, but ultimately aiming to be enjoyable and engaging.
    Playing with words
    In Little i, which Tulika Books launched in Bangalore this week, the character ‘i’ jumps out of a computer application and into the real world. Word play and innovative typography merge when ‘little i’, eager to spread mischief, mercilessly removes vowels from the words her friends are trying to use. “Work is considered important, while  play is just play. But play is supremely important,” says the UK-based author Suniti Namjoshi, adding, “Playing with language is particularly important because that’s how we have a chance of thinking something other than what we already think.” The book’s illustrator, Sayan Mukherjee, concurs. “It was fun to interpret the story as an artist. I had a lot to work with in terms of characters and typography.”
    Colours and more
    What Can You Do with Red, Yellow and Blue? (Little Latitude) goes beyond teaching children well-known colours. Instead, it introduces them to exciting shades they may not have encountered before, such as marigold, vermilion and saffron. “It aims to excite children’s curiosity,” says Little Latitude publisher Vinay Diddee. “We’ve worked with well-known American author Arielle North Olson and illustrator Prashant Miranda, and the book will be on shelves by the end of the month,” Diddee says.
    A second book by the same author, Where Shall We Go, Big Black Crow?, is slotted to follow soon after, which will encourage children to think about wider issues such as conservation and ecology. Clues hidden beneath flaps that lift up give the book an interactive element, as children gradually discover that the often disdained crow has an important role to play. “Our aim is to create stories that children want to read again and again,” shares Diddee. “Only once a child can find something engaging in multiple readings is a book a success.”

    Little i, at `160, available at Tulika Books. Details: 24331639; Little Latitude books, at `400 upwards, available at Pappadum. Details: 42012262

    —Maegan Dobson Sippy

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