Kids & Teens

This is the success mantra popular illustrator Priya Kurian follows. This artist has brought smiles to numerous children through her illustrations, which form an integral part of the children books. Here, in conversation with Varsha Verma, she reveals how she became a children book illustrator and how she comes up with a perfect illustration every time. The beginning…

Priya KurianPriya Kurian is an established children artist, who is trained as an animation film maker at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. “An important aspect of conceiving animation films consists of creating 'Concept Art' which involves illustrating various scenarios for the main characters of the film by using different visual techniques, mediums and treatments that really inspire one to think freely. Not all the scenarios created during this process are always included in the film. I enjoyed this stage of the film making process immensely and my interest in illustrating books was really an outcome of this. In my final year, I wrote to the people at Tulika Books on a whim and they were kind enough to give me the chance to work on a sweet story about an elephant called Bahadur who forgets how to sleep. The book is called I'm so Sleepy and is written by Radhika Chadha. The book turned out to be quite popular and I went on to illustrate a series of books with the same character. The series was called 'The Baby Bahadur' series,” tells Priya.

Later, Priya worked as an animator in a production house in Mumbai and then Seasame Street in Delhi. “Working at an animation studio didn't leave me with much time to pursue illustration very seriously, but by the time I decided to become a freelancer, which was after a year of working with Sesame Street Preschool, I had a small body of work that I compiled into a blog which I still maintain, and sent it to various publishers in Delhi. Since the first few books that I worked on were for a children's book publisher, I think most publishers assumed I illustrated only for kids books and the kind of work I received was mostly in the same area,” she recalls.

“Infact, I illustrated a few books for Puffin and Scholastic, and slowly over the years, more people in publishing got familiar with my work. So far, it's been really satisfying working on different kinds of projects with so many different people and I have realised how much I like working on children's books rather than illustrations for grownups,” she adds.

Hardest part of illustrating…

“…Getting started, I think. Because, that's the point where one needs to take the most amount of decisions and face the maximum number of choices in terms of what needs to be done with the characters and the treatment of the book. Sometimes, I find that these decisions can't be made in one sitting, but can take over a period of days and sometimes weeks,” replies Priya.

“Also another challenge is to put yourself back in the shoes of the child that you were. I think adults (including me) sometimes have a poor memory of what they were as children and what they felt like as a kid; what hurt you; what made you feel insecure. It is important to be able to tap into that,” adds Priya as a matter of fact.

Factors kept in mind while illustrating for children…

“I always try avoiding clichés, especially when it comes to creating characters. I like illustrations with enough details so that a kid can come back to it again and again, and perhaps spot something new each time he or she does so. I always like adding a touch of humour wherever possible in the details; something like a side joke which might really be part of the text. Also, one has to keep in mind that your audiences' experience of the world would cover the last 8 to 10 years as opposed to the last 20 and above. So, one should always keep up with what children find fascinating and be careful to use examples from popular culture and metaphors in your work that they understand,” she explains.

Real life influences…

“I love travelling and keep a record of places I visit. However small or big the city/village /town, one always comes back with quirky stories. Sometimes, the interesting characters I meet later find their way into my illustrations. So, I like to keep memories of those people and places in my notebook so as not to forget these,” she adds nonchalantly.

Advice to aspiring artists…

“Continuously keep at what one likes doing, work earnestly and honestly and don't compare yourself to another. Also, do some projects just for the love of it without thinking too much about what it would lead to. Compile your work online as well so that people can access it easily,” she advises.

asserts Navin Joshi, executive vice president, S. Chand Group in a chat with Varsha Verma from AABP.

Navin JoshiS. Chand is a reputed and trustworthy educational textbook publisher serving school textbook segment with quality content from more than seven decades. Their presence and popularity in school textbook segment, in the form of both physical books and e-learning solutions, signifies their position in the industry. “Quality contents, strong resource of well known and national award winning authors, reasonable prices, good quality printing, binding etc, are our USPs,” says Navin Joshi, executive vice president, S. Chand Group. So, how has the school textbook publishing segment evolved over the years, its challenges and strengths, shares Navin Joshi.

Varsha: How big is the school textbook market and how is it different from trade and higher-education publishing?

Navin Joshi: In India, school education market is a large segment. As per our research, this market segment is having around 12,000 schools affiliated to CBSE Board, consisting 940 Kendriya Vidyalyas, 543 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalyas, 56 Tibetan Schools and approximately 2,000 Government Schools. Rest of the schools are private independent CBSE affiliated schools and approximately 1,700 ICSE Schools. Also, there are large numbers of English medium schools which are affiliated to respective state board of different states of India. These figures itself reveals the enormous potential of this huge market segment.

Distinctions are there among school publishing, trade and higher education publishing market. One of the most important distinctions is that the number of students in school publishing is much more as compared to trade/higher academic segment, which means that readership is much higher in this segment. In higher education publishing & trade publishing, some titles are very popular all over the country, whereas, in school segment, from school to school, titles are different. Also, school education market is very competitive and tough too.

Varsha: How fast the education industry changing and how often are the textbooks upgraded to match it?

Navin Joshi: In the last five years, there have been tremendous changes in Indian education industry especially in school education market.
Some of these are:
(i) Upgradation of curriculum and syllabi
(ii) Improved and innovative methods of teaching have been introduced in the schools
(iii) New methods of assessments

Recently, The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) System i.e., CCE and Problem Solving Assessments i.e., (PSA). By introduction of CCE and PSA systems, the entire text matter requires thorough revision, updation along with inclusion of new formatted content. Each title of school books segment needs revision and updation at regular intervals so as to meet the requirements of this competitive market.

Varsha: Do you think the Indian education industry is at par with the foreign counterparts?

Navin Joshi: Indian education industry is definitely at par with the foreign counterparts, as Indian publishers focus on best content with good printing quality, but, price is a big constraint. Due to unfeasible economic conditions, we cannot increase prices of our products. To keep prices reasonable, sometimes we have to compromise with paper quality etc. On the other hand, foreign publishers keep prices very high which reflects in quality of their products. A considerable price hike would definitely boost the overall quality of books of Indian publishers.

Varsha: Everybody in the publishing world is coming forward and promoting their products as matching up with the standards. How do educators know which product are the real gold standards?

Navin Joshi: In school textbook segment, there are basically two parameters for comparing quality and standard of a product. These are: credentials of authors and content quality. Recently, (due to problem of content disputes), CBSE has undergone some amendments in affiliation by laws to ensure that only properly scrutinized textbooks would be used for teaching across all CBSE affiliated schools. Under this law, all CBSE affiliated schools will have to setup website informing the details of textbooks being prescribed in their curriculum. Now, the responsibility of prescribing quality content is reserved with respective CBSE School. By this process, the schools can definitely have a check on book’s content and author’s credentials. The new amendment will definitely help schools to choose products with real gold standards.

Varsha: What is the role of e-learning in this segment and how is S. Chand Group gearing up for this change?

Navin Joshi: In modern era, the role of e-learning has become very important. Now, it is mandatory for all CBSE and ICSE affiliated schools to give place to e-learning in their academic curriculum. All CBSE and ICSE affiliated schools should induct minimum two smart classes in their schools. The response of schools towards e-learning is very good and we believe that in near future, most of the schools will opt for it. At S. Chand, we have opened separate division for digital education and our e-learning product, “Destination Success” is a popular name. We are content based company whereas our competitors are technology- based companies.

Varsha: What message would you like to give to teachers/educators to choose the right books for children?

Navin Joshi: My message to schools is, while selecting books please check the name and credentials of authors, whether they are associated with good schools or just freelancers. A learned and experienced author associated with good school can write well as he/she knows the latest development in curriculum of respective board.

Secondly, credentials of publisher should also be reviewed while selecting books. Now, there has been a mushroom growth in school books publishers especially in K-8 segments. Schools should thoroughly check the reputation of publishers and their status in the industry. Also, schools should ensure whether the publisher is a member of any of three very important associations like Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP), Federation of Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association of India (FPBAI) and Federation of Educational Publishers in India (FEPI). Associations of publishers with these federations are considered as hallmark for good quality publishing in Indian publishing industry.

Shanghai Children's Book Fair to promote copyright trading

The inaugural China Shanghai International Children's Book Fair (CCBF), to be held at the ShanghaiMart Exhibition Centre from November 7 - 9, 2013, will be 'trade only' for the first two days. Day 3 will be open to the public. Managed by Reed Exhibitions and supported by the General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film & Television, this event is dedicated to the copyright trading, publishing, printing and distribution of content/books aimed at 0 to 16 year-olds.

Home to more than 230 million people under the age of 16, China boasts a flourishing children's publishing sector that is currently valued at USD $5 billion, of which USD $340 million comes from licensing. These figures illustrate why children's books are the most dynamic, competitive and fastest growing sector in China's publishing industry. Between 2011 and 2012 the number of children's publications grew by 35 percent, with 20 percent of total rights sales in China's book industry coming from this segment.

As per Randy Wang, senior project manager at Reed Exhibitions, "Driven by the theme of 'Content Without Borders', CCBF is focused on facilitating closer interaction between local and international industry practitioners. We will be that bridge that connects publishers with copyright traders; authors and their fans. Exhibitors and visitors will, through this platform, discover a huge range of original printed and digital content—books, e-books, educational software and other edutainment products. Our hope is that they will go away wanting more and looking forward to the next CCBF.

"Having this event in Shanghai makes perfect sense. This is one of China's busiest publishing hubs and cultural centers, as well as its innovation and financial core. The timing is particularly appropriate too, with Disneyland Shanghai opening in 2015. This will cement Shanghai's position as China's capital of children's culture and entertainment."

Asia-Pacific's active copyright trading accounts for 20 percent of the global children's book market. The launch of CCBF will do much to better serve and upgrade children's content copyright trading in the region.

A comprehensive collection of on-site events will run concurrent to the fair. These will include The International Children's Book Publishing Summit, The Best Children's Book Award, The International Children's Publication Copyright Trade Summit, The International Children's Book Promotion Events, the International Promotion of Chinese Children's Literature Author Workshops and more. These collocated events and activities will do more than simply enhance the Fair's influence over children's reading culture, the children's publication industry and the market. They will also provide participants with rich opportunities to significantly boost their business; amplify their brand to the market; network and source accurate information.

Singapore International Storytelling Festival (SISF) 2013

The eighth annual SISF will be held from September 2-8, 2013, which includes the one-day Asian Congress of Storytellers on September 6, 2013. SISF 2013 will present a medley of performances and workshops by Singaporean and international storytellers – weaving words, connecting cultures.

This year, the Asian Congress of Storytellers reinforces the use of stories and storytelling techniques in our workplace and our lives. The workshops will explore the diverse use of stories and demonstrate the different ways to use them.

For more info, visit

Get more fun with Purple Turtle on the Android Apps

The cute little character and the kids luxury brand ‘Purple Turtle’ is now closer to its followers through apps on android. The app will keep the followers updated on the latest happenings in the ‘Purple Turtle’s’ world. The Android users can download these apps for free on an operating system of 2.3 and above. The apps are launched under the Books & reference category.

The features in the mobile app will help in socializing the experience, deepening the engagement with fans and personalize the interface for each individual user. NK Krishnanand, national sales manager, Purple Turtle, says, “Consumer expectations are ever evolving and we need to keep in pace with them. Launching the apps on Android is such a step towards fulfilling these evolving expectations. The apps will feature the Purple Turtle’s wonderful world, where everyone can meet him and his friends and can learn with this great group.”

Purple Turtle is a cute character to help children learn in a fun way. Their books and apps have been licensed to USA, UK, South Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Estonia, and Latvia. They also have a preschool, which provides personalized education and care towards a child. Purple Turtle believes that children are capable and innovative and believes that books play a major role in developing a child brain which leads to overall development of the child.

Scholastic Asian Book Award 2014 call for entries

The Scholastic Asian Book Award is presented biennially for an unpublished manuscript targeted at children aged 6 to 18 years, written by authors of Asian descent, living in Asia, who are 18 years of age and above. The Scholastic Asian Book Award 2014 offers a prize of S$10,000 and will be presented during the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in May 2014.

The closing date for the submission is October 21, 2013.

The first visitor to pavilion put up by India, the guest of honour country at Seoul International Book Fair 2013, was Park Geun-hye, president of the Republic of Korea, who was received by Jitin Prasada, minister of state for Human Resource Development, Government of India. Prasada took her around the India Pavilion, which had a huge replica of Sanchi Gate as the main entrance and also gifted her the first copy of the graphic novel 'Sriratna & Kim Suro: The Legend of an Indian Princess in Korea' published by National Book Trust, the nodal agency for the co-ordination of Guest of Honour programmes at Seoul International Book Fair. Written by N Parthasarathi and illustrated by Soumitra Dasgupta, the book tells the story of the Princess Sriratna marrying King Kim Suro of Korea in AD 48. Together they founded the Gaya Kingdom in Korea. The president showed keen interest in the Buddha sculpture, Buddhist literature and exhibition of books on Mahatma Gandhi. Among the stopovers at the huge India Pavilion spread over 1,000 sq m was a corner dedicated to the books on Indian cinema.

Later, Jitin Prasada, who led the delegation of 40 Indian publishing professionals including many CEOs and MDs of publishing houses, six authors, and senior officials, formally inaugurated the India Pavilion by releasing the above graphic novel and ten books of National Book Trust, translated in Korean language. Speaking on the occasion, Jitin Prasada stated, “I am sure Indian publishers present here will seek opportunity to have strong tie-ups in the field of publishing children literature, digital publishing, Indology and Buddhist literature.” Complimenting the efforts of National Book Trust, India for putting up a ‘magnificent India Pavilion’, he stated, “The range of books that have been put on display, alongwith the colourful posters, have spread very vibrant feelings.”

A Sethumadhavan, chairman, in his welcome speech hoped that the presence of India at SIBF would create a better perception about Indian publishing and literary scene in Korea. While, Vishnu Prakash, ambassador of India to Korea and Eric Yang, executive director, Korean Publishers’ Association also spoke on the occasion. M A Sikandar, director, NBT proposed a vote-of-thanks after a Kathak dance performance organised by Indian Cultural Centre, Embassy of India.

Later in the day, an illustrators’ workshop with 25 Korean children was organised, wherein the children illustrated the story of Geeta Dharmarajan under the supervision of the eminent artist Suddhosatwa Basu.


Tagore Classics
Publisher: BPI India Pvt Ltd
(Pp 16, ISBN 978-81-4972061, Rs 50)

The book is a part of ‘Tagore Classics’ series, written by Nobel Prize laureate Rabindranath Tagore. It is a famous story which has been told many times. It is about a little girl Mini who befriends a Kabuliwala and both grow fond of each other. They shared jokes and laughed together. Kabuliwala used to give a handful of dried fruits to Mini every time he met her. But fate had something else in store for Kabuliwala who was jailed for committing a criminal offence. When he returns from jail, Mini is no more a little girl- she’s getting married and she has forgotten his old friend. Each page of the picture has an illustration of the story, which makes the story livelier. Printed in large print, the book will be liked by both children and adults (who would like to read to their children).

The ‘desi’ avatar of Archie

Good news for children who love the famous comic series – Archie but cannot read it in English. They can now read it in Hindi and Malayalam. These desi versions from Archie Comics would be published by Variety Book Depot and distributed by EuroBooks, the leader in children’s book publishing in India. Priced at Rs 30 each, the company plans to launch 12 Archie titles in the first phase and 36 titles within the coming year.

Remote intervention classes for students
- Another initiative towards literacy

Cisco has announced the first pilot project based on Cisco Education Enabled Development (CEED) platform for its Inclusive Growth architecture. This pilot project will deploy specialized remote intervention teaching for two government pre-matriculation social welfare boys hostels in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. To enable implementation of this pilot project, the Government of Karnataka has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Cisco.

The project will be on a Public Private Partnership model where Cisco will deploy its solution and maintain it as a service that includes remote access and support. About 450 students in the two Pre-Matriculation hostels at Vidyanagar and Shikaripura will receive intervention training in English, Math, Social Sciences and Science. Sessions would be conducted after class for these sixth to tenth standard students. Children’s Lovecastles Trust, NGO that specializes in pedagogy and providing access to quality teaching for remote government schools using technology, will deliver these training sessions.

“Through Cisco’s technology, we are able to provide our students in rural areas with supplemental training in core subjects. I’m certain this will enhance the learning experience for both teachers and students and we should be able to attract more students to pursue their studies with facilities like this,” said Chandra Naik, district social welfare officer.

The Hidden Treasure

Tagore Classics
Publisher: BPI India Pvt Ltd
(Pp 16, ISBN 978-81-4972047, Rs 50)

Another book from the ‘Tagore Classics’ series is The Hidden Treasure which revolves around a mysterious treasure hidden in a village called Dharagole. But, what is real treasure? Gold, silver, coins or your family? That’s what the book tries to teach children – it is not the material things that matter! An interesting book with vivid illustrations and beautiful moral!

‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ becomes first e-book to sell one million copies

The opening book of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, has become what industry experts believe is the first novel to sell more than a million copies in e-book form, The New York Times reports. News of the million mark milestone comes via Knopf books, which is a subsidiary of Random House publishing.

Combined digital sales of the Millennium series, which also includes The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, have so far reached three million, the publisher said. Total sales of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which includes e-books, audio books and printed copies, are maintaining an impressive steady pace of about 5,00,000 copies per month. Hardback covers of the book, which first went on sale in September 2008, have reached a total of about 3,00,000 copies.