Monday, May 27, 2019

Tara Books

Looking at the book, An Indian Beach: by Day and Night created by Joelle Jolievet, I realized that I hadn't gushed about a favorite publisher of mine, Tara Books, for quite sometime.

An oversight, to be sure.

The books that I love most from Tara Books are handmade (from the paper, to the images being screenprinted, to being bound by hand) and/or often illustrated in unique and interesting ways showcasing traditional Indian folk art styles..

For example, An Indian Beach. This book illustrates the typical activities that go on from morning til night on Elliot's Beach near the city of Chennai, South India. The author depicts people waking up in the morning, engaging in all sorts of activities such as selling fish, repairing nets, eating, jogging, going to work, and playing.  At the hottest time of the afternoon there are very few people out, only a couple of dogs or birds. But by early evening the pace picks up again and people are out and about selling food, playing games, relaxing until nighttime when it's time to return home.

But it's the way in which the daily happenings on Elliot's Beach has been displayed for the reader that makes it stand out. Wordlessly, it has been illustrated as a series of predominately black and white panels joined together to create a never-ending, circular flow of activities from dawn til night. It's a wonderful display that invites the reader to stop and take in the details of each scene. On the inside of the joined panels are multitudes of various species of fish to be identified reinforcing the proximity and importance of the sea to the people living close to this beach. There is a blue border at the top of each page 
identifying the presence of the sea. On the inner side of the book blue colours the water for the fish.

The folder packaging the book provides us with additional descriptions about what's going on in the panels. It also includes suggestions as to how the book can be used and read. Because of the foldout nature of the pages the scenes can be 'read' in various configurations, inviting the reader to create their own stories.

This would make a terrific addition to the Alberta social studies unit studied in grade 3 where students learning about India. I think the book design is provocative enough to be of interest to almost anyone.

As I said at the top of this blog, I love Tara Books because of the books they publish. I love that they take on the challenge of storytelling in unique and innovative ways. An Indian Beach is an excellent addition to my favourites list.


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