Two of our Pickle Yolk Books titles, The Susu Pals and Vee Loved Garlic, and their inimitable illustrators Alicia Souza and Kunal Kundu are featured in this Hindustan Times piece by Rachel Lopez on the changing face of children’s books in India: ‘Kids books are getting darker, cooler, nuttier.’
“No pigtails. No Aadarsh Balaks. No preachy grownups. No morals at the end of the story. As children’s books in India get a makeover, their illustrations are brightening up too. Over the last five years, animation artists, muralists, graphic designers and doodlers have been lending heir skills to books for kids, redrawing the lines of what constitutes art for India’s young people.
Some of the work is almost cinematic – moody vampire landscapes, grandmas that swing up coconut trees. Others are clearly tongue in cheek – jokes about poo, gags sneaked in for parents. But each is a step towards a new visual language for kids, one where the rules are elastic – and a new adventure is just around the corner.”
Excerpts from the feature:
On The Susu Pals and Alicia Souza
What? You never had a friend you’d do susu with? Rhea and Dia do everything together, like best buds. Until Isha joins their class. Souza’s cheery work brightens up the story of friendship and getting along. “I had to make sure the visuals included the kids and parents’ point of view,” she says. “And we wanted handwriting, not set fonts.” Today’s stories are letting kids take control and learn lessons themselves, she adds. “Some grown-ups were a little scandalised by the title, but there are plenty of pee and poo books in India now.”
On Vee Loved Garlic and Kunal Kundu
Vee loves garlic. But Vee is a vampire and her family believes it will kill her. Can she convince them she’ll be ok? Kundu’s art gives the tale of discovery and free will the animation-film treatment. Hisworld is mildly macabre, dramatic and Halloweeny. “Childlike drawings don’t necessarily work for children’s books,” Kundu says. “You have to work on composition, colour choice, what’s in focus, what angle you’re presenting, the point of view of the child or the adult reader. The reader is like a film audience.” Most publishers think dark visuals are unsuitable for kids, Kundu adds, “but when Neil Gaiman does it, it’s automatically fine”. The double standard works for fees too. Kunku says Indian publishers pay only a quarter of what equally skilledartists get in the West.
Read the entire feature here.
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