Gita Wolf, publisher and director at Tara Books, has posted a wonderful entry on the Tara Books Blog entitled The Politics of Voice: Folk and Tribal Art in Children’s Literature in which she talks about her presentation at the recent IBBY Congress:
“It may seem, at first glance, that the majority is the dominant force in every society, but those who dramatically change their world, now and throughout history, always belong to the minority.” With this motto, the International Board on Books for Young People – IBBY – organized their Congress this year in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The theme was The Strength of Minorities. Given Tara’s work with folk and tribal art communities, I was invited to contribute, to talk about how these ‘outsider’ artists could change the course of children’s literature.
The fundamental question for me had to do with how we can re-imagine children’s literature. What possibilities are there in a publishing world that is increasingly dominated by big business, bestsellers, and a certain sameness in what we think is suitable for children?
When we started publishing in 1995, there were very few picture books for children in India. Ours has been a largely oral tradition, and the notion of children’s literature came from abroad. So Indian children’s books tended to be derivative. To create something that was original, we looked around for Indian illustrators, and what excited us most was the potential we saw in traditional artists.
To read the rest of the article (which contains some lovely illustrations and images!) click here .
Note: The image above is by Gond artist Bhajju Shyam and is from the book The Flight of the Mermaid, text by Gita Wolf and Sirish Rao (Tara Books, 2009). Bhajju is currently featured in our PaperTigers Illustrator Gallery.