Friday, September 13, 2013


Image courtesy: Tulika

by Arthi Anand-Navaneeth
Illustrated by Kavita Singh Kale

It has only been a few days since many households across the globe celebrated the elephant, but the celebration is not over yet. We bring you a review of Ranganna, our resident blogger, Arthi-Anand Navaneeth’s second publication, featuring a cool blue elephant.

Ranganna is not your typical elephant, he lives in the Dhobi ghat, in the midst of bursts of color. Color is everywhere, all around him. In the clothes spread out to dry, in the flowers ladies buy at the temple. After he sees two little girls sporting color on their nails, Ranganna wants some color on himself!  But painting an elephant’s nails! How would the girls do that? Arthi’s tale, ably enhanced by Kavita Singh Kale’s multi colored brush strokes, brings the tale to a warm and fulfilling finish.

From beginning to end, Ranganna maintains the comforting lilt and tone of a bed time tale. We asked Arthi if this book started off as a bed time story. But the story behind the story started in a temple down south. “After our trip to the temple towns of Kumbakkonam- Thanjavur with their many elephants who 'bless' you at temples, [my younger one] was petrified of them. I came up with the story to help her get over her fear of elephants! I had to tap into her love of colour, rainbows, bubbles and  of course nailpolish, to help make elephants less intimidating to her, a three year old,” says Arthi.

And the inspiration behind the name Ranganna?
Arthi: A younger elephant was chosen for the same reason as above and as with all young ones, he is a vibrant curious fellow. 'Ranganna' is  word play with the Hindi equivalent for colour- rang- with a typical Kannadiga style of naming.

The backdrop is an unusual place to find elephants – Arthi tells us a little about where the story is set.
Arthi: The backdrop is Hampi- a smallish but poetically beautiful temple- historical town in Karnataka since that is most familiar to my daughters now. Would also take this chance to urge all to save the beauty of Hampi!!

We were curious how Arthi worked with the illustrator, did she modify her draft based on Kavita’s drawings?
Arthi: The editorial team at our publisher, Tulika nominates the illustrator. The story  is edited before being sent to the illustrator. I was thrilled to hear Kavita was on Ranganna. Kavita is known for the extra touches she brings and am sure her work with Ranganna will delight all. I must also mention the translators' contribution- to make it available in multiple languages. Works well for older kids as well to help language development.

This is Arthi’s second work for children and we can expect many more! We wondered what draws her to the world of children’s literature. Here it is…
Arthi: I love reading, embellishing, creating and narrating stories to my girls and in the recent year or two, to other kids too ( Sometimes the response and repeat requests are high for certain tales.  I pen those down and hope some adult editor at a publisher, will see it through my kids' eyes and enjoy and take it up. I am only two books old now (Have you seen this? was my previous book). Honestly, not all tales I write get picked up. But if I see kids' eyes light up or ears perk up or lips break into a smile- I keep using the story at storytelling sessions.

We are also delighted to have a second conversation with Kavitha Singh Kale. A visual artist, filmmaker, author and illustrator, she was drawn to children's literature at the very beginning of her career. With a combination of acrylic and water colors, she brings Ranganna to life, giving him toddler-like expressions and an ebullient personality.

ST: What was your first thought when you read about an elephant as a title character?
Kavita: I was excited as all kids love elephants! They are so adorable and bring lot of joy :)

ST: Does the illustration go through editing before it is ready for publication?
There were very few things here and there which I changed after getting feedback from the publisher.

ST: What was the inspiration behind a blue Ranganna?
Kavita: The river and the feeling of dhobi ghat inspired me to think of a blue Ranganna.

ST: The elephant dance rocks :) Who was the choreographer, so to speak? :)
Kavita: Thanks! Since elephants are huge animals.. I had to really think and imagine different possible poses for the dance sequence.

Our other two star reviewers have a few more thoughts to add about Ranganna’s color.
Here’s Praba’s view…
In Ranganna, Arthi Navneeth has created a wonderfully upbeat elephant character with an uninhibited love for colors. With his sunny disposition, he is sure to put everyone in a cheery mood. Well-designed spreads by Kavita Singh Kale washed with stunning colors render a lovely rural charm making it an irresistible pick.

..And Sheela has this to say..
In this charming tale, we meet the effervescent Ranganna who wants to add some color to his plain self. And he gets his wish when he meets two little girls, Anushka and Aditi. How many toe nails does an Indian elephant have? Well, ask the two little girls in the story, they know! And, that's how many colors of nail polish they find to paint Ranganna's nails - one color per toe nail. Is it any wonder Ranganna does his happy elephant dance at the end?
Arthi Navaneeth's genial narration and  Kavitha Singh Kale's bright spreads make this a delightful read for the kids.

Saffron Tree is thrilled for Arthi & Kavita and for Tulika, looks forward to many more interesting publications from the team.


Choxbox said...

Art's energy, nail polish, a young elephant, Kavita's illustrations. I SO want this book!

Vibha said...

What a charming and endearing tale Arthi. Congratulations.

Artnavy said...

Thanks Anusha for a lovely review.
Thanks Praba and Sheela too.

Chox- pl share what you think once you get hold of the book

Thanks Vibha.

Anonymous said...

What is the name of the elephant

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