Thursday, October 21, 2010

Voices from India

I often speak to students about finding books with ‘authentic voice’.  Meaning, books that authentically reflect the culture of the story being told and, ideally, told by an author from that culture.

Most often I direct this to stories about Native North Americans told by Native North Americans.

But recently I’ve been trying to find books that do the same for other cultures and have found a couple of publishers from India that publish children’s books in English (amongst many languages).  Tulika Books  and Tara Books  have published several folk stories from different parts of the country,,often illustrated using traditional artistic techniques:

Eyes on the peacock’s tale: a folktale from Rajasthan by Vayu Naidu, art by Nugdha Shah.

The rooster and the sun by Meren Imchen (from the Ao tribe in Nagaland)


And land was born retold by Sandhya Rao, art by Uma Krishnaswamy (from the Bhilala tribe in central India)

Night life of trees by Bhajju Shyam (from the Gond tribe in central India)

A non-Indian tale, The Flight of the Mermaid by Gita Wolf and Sirish Rao, is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, but illustrated by Bhajju Shyam a Gond tribal artist. Really interesting to see such a well-known European story illustrated with Indian illustrations.

In addition to the folktales, I’ve enjoyed reading a couple of titles that reflect everyday life told with an Indian perspective.  These books are written for Indian children and not necessarily for children in North America, assuming some familiarity with the culture. Here are two nonfiction books that I enjoyed:

Hina in the Old City by Samina Mishra is about a 10-year old girl, Hina, who lives in the walled city of Delhi, Purani Dilli, with her familywho are traditional craftspeople (zardozi embroiderers).  Suggested for grades 5 and up.

Riddle of the Ridley by Shekar Dattatri describes the annual migration, breeding and laying of eggs by Ridley turtles on the beaches of India.  We see what Indian scientists are learning from their ongoing research.  Suggested for grades 3-7.

A couple of fictional titles I liked include:

Out of the way, out of the way! by Uma Krishnaswami about a village that expands into a busy city but cherishes and preserves a tree planted long ago by a child, now a grandfather. Suggested for grades 1-4. 

That’s how I see things by Sirish Rao and Bhajju Shyam tells the story of an artist with an exceptional imagination, creating unusual animals that speak to him.  Very playful.
Suggested for grades 2-5.

Over at Papertigers  there is lots of information about books from India written and illustrated by Indian writers and artists that is well worth checking out.

Anyone else know of good books written with an ‘authentic voice’ from places outside of Canada and the U.S.?  Please drop me a line if you do.


Tulika Publishers said...

Greetings from Tulika! Thank you for featuring our books on your blog. We are honoured:)

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