Plump Penguins, Kissing Kangaroos, Kind Kiwis! - Alphabets Are Amazing Animals (Book Review)
posted by R's Mom , August 13, 2015
Alphabets are Amazing Animals written by Anushka Ravishankar and illustrated by Christiane Pieper, published by Tara Books, is one of those must-have books in a household and school library which talks about animals and what they do - strange, quirky and fun-
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'I Just Have A Lot Of Fun With Words' Says Anushka Ravishankar!
Anushka Ravishankar needs no introduction. Known popularly as the Dr. Seuss of India, she has written many wonderful books for children. Her books are fun, interesting, teach us a lot of things and are just there to pick up and read n number of times!
Anushka was kind enough to answer some of our questions on her book - Alphabets are Amazing Animals by Tara Books.
IMC: How did you think of a book that takes up each alphabet and
Anushka: I don't really remember. I think we might have been thinking of an alphabet book, and the alliteration just happened. It was easier with some alphabets than with others, of course. I didn't know animals like uakaris and xemes existed until I had to search for animals with those alphabets!
IMC: What was the purpose
[pullquote]I just had a lot of fun with the words and the sounds and the meanings or the lack thereof.[/pullquote]
Anushka: I'm afraid I never have a purpose behind writing any book. I just had a lot of fun with the words and the sounds and the meanings or the lack thereof. That's all. And quite often, that's enough.
IMC: What are your three favorite characters in the book and why?
- the kind kiwis, because of their profoundly caring nature. :)
- the iguana who imitates insects, because the illustration on that page makes me laugh every time I see it.
- the yaks because they remind me of Shammi Kapoor.
'Trust and Follow Your Passion' says Christiane Pieper, Illustrator
Christiane Pieper is the illustrator of the awesome book Alphabets are Amazing Animals. She has illustrated the book so wonderfully that even the 7-month-old infant in the house is very fascinated by it. Christiane has been illustrating books for over twenty years now. She has been kind enough to answer our questions regarding the book!
IMC: How did you conceptualize the book to be as it is? And what prompted you to draw the pictures for the lovely quirky sentences which Anushka Ravishankar came up with?
Christiane: The initial choice of me as an illustrator of the book related to Gita Wolf, the publisher. This is the usual way authors and illustrators come together, a publishing house accepts a writers manuscript and chooses a matching illustrator.
Gita and I had met some 8 years back at a workshop in Chennai and ever since I saw her at Frankfurt Book Fair every year. I am an admirer of Tara Books and was very happy to be offered a text to illustrate for Tara. Especially one as funny as Anushka's, quirky stories with animals are my favorite to illustrate in the world. I grew up on a farm and am very very fond of animals, big ones as well as tiny ones.
Anushka's text literally made my fingers itch to start and see the animals develop their peculiar ways! The number of pages was given by the number of letters in the alphabet. The assignment of one letter per double spread was given by the publisher.
Unlike the convention of full color for children's books in Germany, Gita wanted the book to be done in two colors only. This opened much space for strong graphics and artwork and was a very tempting new approach for me. The first scribbles came out very bold, surprisingly. This was fun to stick to and apply to the whole book! After the easy scribbling, it was a bit of a challenge to finally draw all those pictures in two different versions on the layout table. The two colors had to be drawn on separate sheets of paper, so as to define a certain area filled with the respective color. They had to match exactly because they were to be printed on one sheet afterward. This does not require any effort if working in computer technique, but my part of the book was done without electronic aid. Moreover, the pictures were over-sized in order to provide enough space for trimming after print. This was quite a piece to handle! After 5 months, the art-work of the book was happily completed.
IMC: You have been illustrating for over twenty years now. What you would be your message to children who want to take up illustrating as a career?
Christiane: Trust and follow your passion. Find out what inspires you most and keep practicing in a mood as playful as possible. In order to grow a good foundation of ideas and skills, you should not care much for other people's opinions, but perform what your own intuition urges you to do. Welcome any expression of your inner artist. Don't try to get certain results but do allow in even the strangest creatures/ideas and explore them. There is no right or wrong, nor final results. Experience needs so-called mistakes in order to get deep. Moreover, a perceived flaw may turn out to be the necessary steppingstone to the fascinating design or idea respectively. In my opinion, it is most important to establish this kind of riverbed for your creativity so it can flow freely and abundantly. This applies to any kind of creative work.
You can always trim the results later and you will do so once you get an education. But if you trust your own art first, you will by then have a solid platform from which you can operate vigorously.