by Sandhya Rao and Radhika Menon, Editora, Tulika Publishers
What do we mean by Indian-ness? And in children’s books? A strongly visual quality, for one. Indian storytelling comes in verbal and nonverbal flavours. There are proverbs, riddles, jokes, lullabies, folk tales, family stories, songs, ballads, hero tales, epics, narratives in prose and verse, dances and games, kolams and torans, wall paintings, painted scrolls, toys, craft objects made of stone, metal, terracotta, grass and so on, street theatre, acrobatic tricks, yoga, magic, meditation, all-night theatre and other-world experiences — all these weave in and out of life in India everywhere. Not for the Indian consciousness the separation into areas of activity and endeavour: art, science, religion, economics, music, learning, everything coalesces into one and is expressed as one.
What better way can there be of expressing Indian-ness in children’s books than by a natural progression of growth, of a continuum of tradition? Other cultures have shown the way, shown how to use the wealth of verbal and nonverbal material, to transform it and to pass it on in new and continuing ways.
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