Metrolife: Classics for kids back in print

(From left) Himanshu Giri, CEO, Suzanne Singh, chairperson, Kanchan Bannerjee, trustee (all from Pratham Books), Usha Mukunda, consultant, Tata Trusts, and writer Vivek Shanbhag at the book launch at the Ritz Carlton last Friday.

Five books that Kannada literary giants wrote for children are available again, thanks to a Bengaluru-based publisher.

Pratham Books, a non-profit publisher, launched the books at the Ritz-Carlton recently.

The books are: Panje Mangesh Rao’s ‘Thenkana Gaaliyaata’ (Play of the Southern Wind), Kuvempu’s ‘Chandra Matthu Kamanabillu Kavanagalu’ (Moon and Rainbow Poems), G P Rajarathnam’s ‘Paapa Matthu Peepi Kavanagalu’ (Child and Bugle Poems), Dr Siddaiah Puranik’s ‘Nanna Kudure’ (My Horse) and B K Tirumalamma’s ‘Haaru-Beelu Kavanagalu’ (Fly and Fall Poems).

Well-known Kannada writer Vivek Shanbhag, who has curated the collection, told Metrolife the books connect experience and language through the Kannada imagination. 

“G P Rajarathnam’s ‘Namma Maneyalondu Sanna Papaviruvudu’ (The Small Child in Our House). Each child wants another child to play with at its house. When you read this poem to a child, it understands the experience and connects with it,” says Shanbhag.

The poems also introduce children to new things and appeal to their senses. 

“Look at Panje Magesh Rao’s ‘Thenkana Gaaliyaata’ (Play of the Southern Wind), you can feel the force of the wind,” he says.

Once Shanbhag had selected the books to be translated, the publishers got artists to start working on the illustrations. 

The illustrations are by B G Gujjarappa, Satya Krishna Prakash, Proity Roy, Kalyani Naravane, and Adrija Ghosh.

Shanbhag, whose novel Ghachar Ghochar is being translated into languages across the world, says the children’s books project took a year from inception to execution. 

“A poem should be an experience. You cannot explain a poem. Through these poems, we want to introduce today’s children to classic Kannada writers and encourage them to read their other works,” he adds.

Suzanne Singh, chairperson of Pratham Books, says, “We must recognise the contribution of literature in regional languages to our country’s rich cultural heritage. There are some works that stand the test of time and continue to be relevant in every generation. By presenting the poems in a way that will appeal to this new generation of young readers, we hope to do our part in keeping the classics alive.”

Vijaya Nandeeshwar, Siddaiah Puranik’ s daughter, recalls, “When my father was working in Hyderabad, his friend Prof D K Bhimasen Rao of Osmania University, asked him to write some poems for children. Within a short time, my father wrote two poems – ‘Ajjana Kolidu Nannaya Kudure’ and ‘Karadiya Taka Taka Kunisutha Banda’ – which remain hugely popular even today.”

The Parag initiative of the Tata Trust has partnered with Pratham Books to bring out these classics. Each book is priced Rs 40, and the set at Rs 200. 

You can order the books on www.prathambooks.org. Click on ‘Latest deals’. The other links, such as ‘New releases’ don’t get you to the Kannada releases.

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Metrolife: Classics for kids back in print

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