Friday, February 20, 2015

Patua Pinocchio

Patua Pinocchio  
Patua Pinocchio book review Saffron Tree
by Carlo Collodi
illustrated by Swarna Chitrakar
publisher: Tara Books

By now, The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi has become a household tale that manages to amuse and captivate the young readers. The story has been translated into many languages, endearing the wooden marionette to readers the around the world. His yearning to become a human boy and his adventures along the way is both absurd and heart-tugging.

Well known for their sophisticated books that showcase indigenous art forms and local artists, Tara Books has taken this classic story, abridged from Carol Della Chiesa's translations from the Italian original, and paired it with Swarna Chitrakar's Patua Scroll Painting of Bengal to present a uniquely amalgamated book that opens with this short and crisp introduction:

How it happened that
Mastro Cherry, the carpenter
Found a piece of wood
That wept and laughed
Like a child!
He gives it to his friend
Geppetto, who fashions a
Marionette and calls it

An engaging telling in just about 180 pages, the story pops out and grabs the reader via starkly stylized original illustrations.

Patua Pinocchio book review Saffron Tree
Image Source: Tara Books

For readers used to the Westernized image of Pinocchio in rompers and a hat, it can be a jolt to see this new take on the puppet who wanted it all.

In loincloth and delicate jewelry, with dark-hued (wood-like?) complexion, Patua Pinocchio certainly challenges the readers to take the leap and test if the story is truly universal in its appeal.

The bold lines and rich earthen colors in plain white background adds a deceptive simplicity to the presentation while showcasing the strengths of this traditional art form practiced by the community of Chitrakars centered around Naya in West Bengal.

One of the perks for Indian readers is the parallel between Pinocchio's antics and that of Lord Krishna as a young mischievous cowherd. The idea that children are innately bestowed with godliness that they lose gradually as they grow up is pulled into this tale to present a vibrant interpretation of an ageless story.

The ideas for exploring Patua Pinicchio at Tara Books' site alludes to the fact that a fable that is considered a classic is open to multiple interpretations, one of which is presented in this book.

"Re-Drawing A Classic" section at the back explains how this book emerged from a workshop with artists from the Patua tradition of painting.

[Read an excerpt at DNA]

[Look Inside the book]

[Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher. The decision to review it, and share my opinions here, is entirely my own.]

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