Thursday, January 21, 2010


Author Anuradha Ananth
Illustrations Shailja Jain

A few years ago, there was an ad for a playschool which proudly proclaimed that they would correct the child if she coloured the tree blue or mango purple or some such !!! When does well intended guidance become stifling? (Anti coloring books could possibly help. )

I often wonder how to be neither patronizing nor judgmental about a child’s art work. What is constructive at this stage? How do I understand and discover the work as Anushka envisaged it and not view it with my adult notions of art.

Most books that belong to Tulika’s Under the Banyan series and almost all Tara Books subtly bring about art appreciation. For instance Dancing on the walls helped Anush recognize the Warli art piece that we have at home. Magic Vessels had many kolams and the illustrations were rendered in an ancient Tamil sculpting style.

Presenting under the Art exploration series at ST, a more direct book on this typical household art- Rangoli- a bilingual gem from Tulika.

Since the day my grandma joined us, decades ago, we have had a fresh kolam greet us each morning, at our house foyer. Most of our grandmas are sure to have a book of designs/ rangolis which they still add on to and refer, often painstakingly compiled by hand. A more simple, familiar introduction to Indian art there cannot be. And whatever the name it may be known by, across the states of India- kolam, alpona, muggu- it is enchanting .

The vivid illustrations in the book capture a variety of styles and venues where one can appreciate rangolis. It states the reason why rangolis are drawn and concludes on a modern note- a sticker rangoli to work around the constraints of modern day living!

There is step by step kolam on the back page which is sure to provoke a child’s curiosity. And ideal for novice adult learners too.


utbtkids said...

Kolams are facsinating!

We love this book at our home too.

Choxbox said...

Yes I remember the kolam outside your house :)

And the book is a favourite with us as well - we have the English/Kannada version. We did the rangoli in the book on Diwali this year.

Artnavy said...

arent they lovely?

i found that kolams r a good way to teach numbers/ shapes too

we have the english bangla version- the translation is done by a family friend!

starry eyed said...

That book is waiting in the cupboard for my kids, have to get it out in the summer hols for some fun. I agree, it's an awesome one!

Choxbox said...

And Anti-Coloring books are indeed great! My kid had one ages ago and I was surprised by the stuff she did in it :)

Karadi Tales said...

Hi! Just to let you know that all Under the Banyan stories are available as musical audiobooks from Karadi Tales in a joint venture with Tulika. You can check out the series here:

Artnavy said...

starry- will wait to hear about the fun

chox- need to get one for anush
maybe flipkart shld have it

karadi tales- thanks and oh yes- we have a few of those

Tharini said...

This is the first time I am hearing of anti-colouring books. Wow. Wow! How lovely to have a fresh new kolam outside your home...I am so curious to see what kolam is on the last page..

Artnavy said...

tharini- a simple 5 by 5 dots but kids will find it fairly challenging

Sheela said...

gosh, kolam brings back memories - waking up early during ever-foggy december mornings, listening to songs on the streets by neighborhood groups, and working on parts of that day's elaborate kolam with a few other women in the house...

in lieu of such rich and direct experience, thanks for bringing this book to us, artnavy, so I can introduce it to my kids!

Artnavy said...

sheela- sometimes books remind us not to miss very accessible art dont they?

vini said...

The name Rangoli reminded me of the
book 'Romina's Rangoli' by Malathi Michelle which is based on the traditional arts of two different cultures.

Artnavy said...

Thank you for a lovely link ! Very relevant in today's world of mixed marriages and dissolving boundaries

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