Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Textbooks top best-selling list
J. Malarvizhi

Textbook requirement is higher, because it is compulsory material: Scholastic India

CHENNAI: The boy wizard from England was no competition at all. Material related to school syllabi and textbooks are the bestsellers in children's publishing in the city.

Publishers are also seeing a slow rise in interest in `Indian' themes, especially mythology and folk tales. The phenomenon of Harry Potter was more hype than reason to celebrate, they agree.

"With the jump in the number of media organisations, children's publishing might be receiving a lot of attention," said Viswanathan of Karadi Tales, however, "that does not necessarily translate into number of books sold."

When publishers such as Scholastic India were asked what was popular among children's books, they revealed that textbooks and activity books were the highest selling titles. "Textbook requirement is much higher, mainly because it is compulsory material," said Tahsin Chacko, Branch Manager, Tamil Nadu, "Activity books including colouring books and puzzle books with material that is subject oriented also move fast."

Karadi Tales is among the few standalone children's publishers in the market, and has seen some titles cross the 10,000 mark for number of copies sold.

"We have been growing tremendously — we saw a 100 per cent growth last year," said Mr. Viswanathan, "But, the market is still small and very focussed on curricular material. Even if it's growing at, say, 25 per cent annually, it is starting from a very minuscule base."

In this prominently English speaking market, the need is to reach people in small towns who want to read good books, or by offering books at affordable prices, said Pavithra Srinivasan, children's storywriter and editor at Katha. About five years old in children's publishing, Katha is trying to find a balance between quality material and costs, she said.

Quality books

Some of the news is good. Interest in reading is definitely rising, agreed several representatives of publishing companies. Parents are slowly beginning to spend on quality books, several worried that the institution of grandma or parents telling stories to children was being lost.

Interest in Indian writing

There is also an upswing of interest in Indian writing. Schools have begun to request such titles, said Ms. Chacko. Katha too sees an interest in folk tales and mythology to be on the rise. "Hanuman, with the release of the animated film, has become a big phenomenon," said Ms. Srinivasan.

Representatives of a leading bookstore in the city said Ruskin Bond and R.K. Narayan are among the best-selling titles in the children's section, with the Panchatantra stories following close.

Enid Blyton and the latest fantasy bestsellers Christopher Paolini's Eragon and Eldest are the principal competition.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Take a ride with Bhama through the Mudumalai forest. You will not be disappointed.

Are you a lover of the wild and the myriad mysteries of the jungle? Do you thrill to its smells and sounds and long to trek through the meandering paths and lush greens?

Come, join us on an elephant safari, and let Bhama take us through the deep, silent forests of Mudumalai in the Nilgiris, for an unforgettable experience!

The Hindu
(Young world, June 23, 2006)

The forest is replete with animals big and small. The safest place from where you can get the best of the jungle is perhaps atop the elephant's back as A Jungle Safari goes on to show.

Bhama, the tame mother elephant with large tattered ears, knows every nook and corner of the Mudumalai forest. The book takes the reader on a safari, along with a small family who ride on Bhama, through the thickly wooded hills, plateaus and ravines of Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary — home to elephants, gaurs, langurs, tigers, sloth bears, giant flying squirrels, pythons, sambars, wild boars, spotted deer, hyenas and much more.

"In a forest, it isn't the seeing that is important... it's the expecting to see that's exciting" — is the message, as Bhama ventures through the woods. Suddenly she stops on sighting something. What is it?

Black and white sketches on every page are a feast to the eyes. The drawings by Sonal Panse bring to life the mood of the wild.

The narrative is snappy sustaining the thrill of all that the jungle has to offer.
The author
Geeta Dharmarajan loves writing stories and fantasies for children. She conceived and edited a children's maazine called Tamasha. Geeta was earlier one of the editors of Target, a magazine for children, and The Pennysylvania Gazette, the magazine of the Ivy League University of Pennysylvania. She has 18 books and over 400 published pieces to her credit. She started Katha in 1988 and has been its prncipal team leader since then.
The illustrator
Sonal Panse is a freelance artist and writer based in Nashik in Maharashtra. She does realistic, imaginative and abstract artwork in a variety of media, and has written several articles on a range of subjects. Her work has been featured in print web publications in India, Australia and the United States. Sonal has also exhibited her paintings in London and Mumbai, and is currently working on a novel.
Here's a link to the illustrator Sonal Panse's blog, Orangemellon.
Publishers: Katha
32 pages, size 8.25 X 6
Age Group: 5 - 8 years
ISBN 81-89020-39-0
Price: Rs 60 (in India and the subcontinent)
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