Very few Indian publishers have done justice to picture storybooks. The three recently released picture storybooks from Katha are a visual treat and quite unlike the regular published-in-India storybooks. The illustrations are lovely, the storytelling flows naturally and the production quality is excellent.
Written and illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna (who had decided at the age of 8 that she would became a “painter of novels” when she grew up), A Lion in Paris is the story of a lion that escapes from the savannah and travels to Paris—by train.
Exploring the city, the lion is sad that nobody seems to notice his presence. So he goes for a walk around the city, trying to attract attention. Finally, he reaches a crossroads with a high pedestal. With a roar he jumps on it and settles down. As cars honk, he is happy that he has found his place in the big, colourful city.
The author acknowledges that the statue at Denfert-Rochereau Square in Paris inspired the story. Alemagna’s story is easy to read for under six-year-olds (a full-page illustration follows every narration), as are the other two: Fledolin Upside Down (translated from Antje Damm’s German story Fledolin Verger Herum) and On the Tip of a Pin (by Geeta Dharmarajan).
Author-illustrator Damm turns out a fantastic story about Fledolin, a bat who prefers to live upside down. Contrary to everything bat-dom stands for, Fledolin often wonders why he is so happy being upside down. With his feet firmly planted on the ground, he finds some interesting answers.
On the Tip of a Pin is a science fiction story. Illustrated by Ludmilla Chakrabarthy and written by Dharmarajan, it is about Pintipur, a town on the tip of a pin. In that town live Lion, Pig, Cow, Goat and Worm, and 20 children in 20 houses. And as is the case, everyone has a thing against Worm. They think he is terrible—he with his wormholes. Worm maintains that the holes are mazes that lead to other worlds. Everything changes when Mamta of Pintipur discovers a town at the bottom of the well. The town is exactly like Pintipur, except that it is on the top of a pin and is called Pintopur. The people of Pintopur want Worm and he is ready to go.
These books are worthy successors to old Katha favourites such as Song of a Scarecrow, Autorickshaw Blues and Pokiri Parrot.
The writer is the editor of Heek, a children’s magazine.
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