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‘The Unboy Boy’ and ‘The Susu Pals!’ offer life lessons to children without being didactic.
‘The Unboy Boy’ and ‘The Susu Pals!’ offer life lessons to children without being didactic.

Lounge Loves | Snugglewithpicturebooks.com

A publishing start-up with an exclusive focus on picture books

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It takes real conviction to launch a publishing start-up devoted exclusively to picture books, especially at a time when gadgets and e-readers are gaining momentum even among the youngest users. Richa Jha—former editor, journalist and reviewer—has taken the plunge and just launched an independent imprint, Snugglewithpicturebooks.com, with two titles.

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The Unboy Boy

Although Jha was drawn to picture books as a child, her interest in the format deepened when she started reading them to her children. She started a website, Snugglewithpicturebooks.com, to review and promote the books she was reading to her children—a practice she continues, though her son is now over 12.

Growing up in Dhanbad, in Jharkhand, Jha went to Kolkata each year to attend the book fair in January. “I was particularly fond of picture books by Russian authors in translation," she says. Later she worked with publishing house Wisdom Tree as a commissioning editor, an experience that, she says, has proved valuable in her own venture.

The Susu Pals!, illustrated by Alicia Souza, tells the story of two little girls who go from being best friends to having a fight, before being reunited. The book was supposed to be published by Wisdom Tree, but encouraged by her mentor, Shobit Arya, the publisher of Wisdom Tree, and with the support of her husband, Jha decided to go indie.

“Unlike the usual practice of having text-heavy picture books in India, I wanted to tell my stories largely through visuals," she says. In both the books, the text is minimal, but the images are evocative, made alive by a pleasing balance of muted and bright colours. Jha, who is currently based in Lagos, Nigeria, gets to the core of a certain truth about children—their idiosyncracies, politics, joys and anxieties—which most adults have very little access to.

The Unboy Boy and The Susu Pals!, each priced at 300,are now available online and in book stores in Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore and New Delhi.

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