Picture Books in India

Farmer Falgu Series

Farmer Falgu is resourceful, and is always positive. He's a glass half-full kind of guy and is unfazed by what life throws at him. There are four books in the series, illustrated by Kanika Nair.

There are also French, German, Japanese and Thai versions of these titles. Check out the Karadi Tales website.

Find out more about Farmer Falgu here.

Varsha's Varanasi

In the first of The City Series, author Chitra Soundar captures the flavour of Varanasi through Varsha, a young girl out in search of her father. Follow Varsha as she skips past the ghats by the river Ganges, and hurries through the narrow alleys of this timeless city. Page after page, Varanasi unfolds through the striking photo collages by Soumitra Ranade. The breathtaking story and pictures take you to this beautiful, ancient, and eternal Indian city.

Where is Gola's Home?

At one time, yaks had no home of their own. But Gola the yak wants a home. His friend Muri the eagle takes him to the sea, the forest, the desert . The concept and the striking visuals introduce children creatively to different landscapes. Along with it are words that go with each scene and add to vocabulary. This book is available in multiple bi-lingual editions. Illustrated by Priya Kuriyan and published by Tulika Books

Balu's Basket

One day, Balu finds a basket. What does he do with it? Come and find out. Bright images from Uttara Sivadas bring the story to life. Balu’s Basket is available in bi-lingual editions. Illustrated by Uttara Sivadas and published by Tulika Books.

Those forgotten stories

It was perhaps 2003 or 2004. I wrote a story about perspectives. About looking at things in a new way or perhaps for the first time. It was a funny story about a tortoise and how he had never seen the sky.

It was one of those stories that I had thrown away into the virtual drawer and had forgotten about it. When I registered on TES website to upload some stories for classroom use, I dusted this one out, added some free clipart and published it for teachers to use in classrooms.

The story took off. It got featured in the main pages as a popular story and many teachers downloaded it. When TES then moved everyone to their new site and wanted us to reevaluate our content, I decided to take down the story and submit it again to publishers.

The fact that the story was popular in classrooms, because it was short, it was easy to read, it had animal characters and it gave an important message – perspectives differ. When you see something for the first time, do evaluate whether you’re overreacting or not. So I decided to submit it to OUP, Pakistan who had just published one of my earlier stories too. (Read about that here).

In less than a month, OUP Pakistan came back with a Yes! And it also got included in their 70th anniversary celebrations this year as editor’s choice. The book is out now and the story of Upside Down seems all upside down to me and all about perspectives too.

Stories are us!

As we enter into 2021, everything’s a bit up in the air. While we are familiar with terms like lockdown, zoom and quarantine, and our children are adapting to this new world, we are also fatigued by staying in, being alert all the time and sneezing into our elbows.

During these times, stories keep us rooted to our past, our dreams and our imaginations. Regardless of the medium, stories keep our hopes soaring high despite the fierce winds and darkening skies. We see joy in unexpected snow, a bird flying past our windows and discovering a long-lost piece of chocolate behind the spice jars.

Art by Jen Kahtun for Sona Sharma – Very Best Big Sister

Children too can find the glimmer of joy amidst the practical rubbles of everyday lockdown life – the story that makes them smile, the book that makes them think, a joke or a song that they can repeat and a drawing that inspires them to draw.

As an author of children’s books, as a storyteller and as a writer who visits schools talking to children often, I understand the struggles of teachers and parents and the hard work put in by librarians to find ways of placing the books in children’s hands.

While it’s impossible to do free video visits to schools or offer all the stories we write for free to the entire world, authors and illustrators around the world have offered their time, energy and their intellectual property to children and their families to enjoy. We’ve all gotten used to making videos, doing school visits online and running workshops to a screen that broadcasts than to eager young people who raise their hands and shout out their ideas.

As an author, I’d like to keep writing these stories and creating more opportunities to share stories, ideas and inspiration to imagine to all children who need it. While I wouldn’t be able to offer everything for free, there are resources I’ve created that can be reused many more times.

Keeping that in mind, here is a collection of resources that parents, teachers and care-givers can use from my bookshelf to yours. Please do use them for free and share them with friends and family. And if you enjoy the story I tell or the workshop I create, do support authors and illustrators like me, by buying our books next time you’re in the mood to read a new book.

Let’s hope for a safer tomorrow!

Welcome to 2021. Despite the chaotic events across the world, and the pandemic not showing signs of slowing down, I’m feeling hopeful. Because hope is the lightest of things that lifts us up.

As a writer for young people, and a 7-year old at heart, I’m always hopeful about every new day. The job of those who write fiction for young people is to imagine a better world for all of us. We can create the worlds we imagine, we can be the person we aspire to be and all of that is built on the hope for the future.

Every time I begin a story, I’m hopeful of the words that will tumble out of my pen. I’m hopeful for the book to be liked by my peers and then by my agent and then by a publisher and ultimately by the young reader. The very act of writing a story is hopeful that it will find its readers, in the future.

Sometimes I struggle when I write. Sometimes things happen in the world or in the industry that will make me despair. And often I might decide to throw in the towel and say I’ll never write another story.

But that thought stays in my mind for less than a day. Then I’ll spot a ladybird on the balcony, or a butterfly on a flower or a worm hoping to cross the road without a calamity and I’m eager to get back to the desk to make up a story. I’m that worm who crosses the road hopeful about the journey and of reaching the destination. I’m that butterfly who knows to live in the today and visit as many flowers as it can. I’m that ladybird that travels the world from garden to balcony and back again.

So if you’re feeling a bit down or you’re cynical about the situation that is unfolding in our real worlds, go read a book, share a joke, write a poem and watch a funny cartoon. Bring back the joy of being a child, share the joy with another child because we owe it to them to be hopeful and set examples to be aspirational for the future.

And here is a poem to read and perhaps know by heart.

Happy New Year to you all! There are many books coming out this year from my desk to your shelves and I hope to tell you all about it in due course!

Goodbye 2020!

It’s been a weird year in some many ways. However, instead of counting my anxiety chickens, I want to count my calming blessings.

I had a number of new books for trade and education come out! Obviously my absolute favourite book I wrote, set in our family home, has warmed the hearts of many families, I’ve been told.

I’m grateful for the joys of this year, spending more time with my family, not having to see a dentist or find an excuse to eat ice-cream. I went through a range of emotions from loneliness to despair to joy. I wrote a number of new books under lockdown conditions, preferring to stay inside my head than read the news. I focussed on the detail, ironed everything possible in my closet and organised my ear-rings into pairs. All those little things helped me focus on the big picture.

I miss meeting friends and family, miss school visits which gave me the inspiration and energy to keep being creative and the festival circuit that always comes with a new book. Nevertheless, I did try and do most of that virtually – through the help of technology. Ironic that the large scale urban growth driven by technology caused the pandemic and we relied on tech us to keep us distracted from that chaos.

I really hope that this changes our collective humanity and we strive to work smarter to protect our planet. In my own little ways, I’ve been brave this year, spreading my wings, getting a new agent, writing new and different things.

Here’s my from writing desk to your reading chair,

Happy Holidays and a wonderful new year.