One of the books in our recently announced 2012 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set is the gorgeous Out of the Way! Out of the Way! by the almost-same-named Uma Krishnaswami (author) and Uma Krishnaswamy (illustrator). I interviewed Author-Uma last year about her hugely entertaining The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, so I caught up with her this last month to ask her a couple of questions about Out of the Way! Out of the Way!, originally published in India by Tulika Books and published this year by Groundwood Books. (You can read about Illustrator-Uma’s experience creating the book in the Q&A for our Gallery feature of her work.)
Welcome back to the PaperTigers blog, Uma. What does Out of the Way! Out of the Way! mean to you?
I never understand what a book means to me until quite some time after it’s been published. I can’t seem to think of it in that way until I’ve gained some distance from the project. On the surface, Out of the Way! Out of the Way! is a simple story, and I am often drawn to simple stories, especially those in which a single action has far-reaching consequences. At another level I suppose it represents my Pollyanna attempt to make things right in this world. In the reality we all inhabit, let’s face it, most of the time, when development demands a road, trees generally lose out. I started out by thinking of the face-off we see so often between human sprawl and green, growing things. The story grew and changed over many revisions and especially over the editorial process at Tulika Books. In the end it became a response to that conflict, questioning it and offering another view.
If you could send it anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?
Well, I’d want to send it to communities on the edges of cities, places where green habitats are rapidly being eaten up by concrete blocks and uncontrolled roads. Places where children and the adults who care for them might feel inspired to look at their environment and begin asking questions about whether and how it’s being sustained. I’m very grateful to Groundwood Books for bringing this book to North America, and to PaperTigers for selecting this title and making it possible for such conversations to take place.
Also, because it was first published in India by the wonderful Tulika Books in English and in eight Indian languages, I’d really like to see sets of regional language editions of the book sent to schools and NGOs in India, in communities where children learn to read in languages other than English.
Thank you, Uma. You can keep up to date with Uma at her wonderful blog Writing With a Broken Tusk, as well as her website, which currently highlights Out of the Way! Out of the Way! on its landing page. But don’t go away just yet – the good news is that Uma also has a list of ten favorite books to share with us for our 10th Anniversary Top 10 series.
A Top 10 of Multicultural favourites by Uma Krishnaswami
I had to think about this. It was difficult to stop at ten! This list is in no particular order, and includes books across the age range.
~ Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith
~ Amadi’s Snowman by Katia Novet Saint-Lot
~ Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
~ Nabeel’s New Pants by Fawzia Gilani-Williams illustrated by Proiti Roy (originally published by Tulika Books, India as Ismat’s Eid)
~ The Wild Book by Margarita Engle
~ A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
~ Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
~ One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
~ Tiger on a Tree by Anuskha Ravishankar, illustrated by Pulak Biswas
~ Waiting for Mama by Tae-Joon Lee, illustrated by Dong-Sung Kim
I’ve spotted some of my own favorites in Uma’s list too… What about you? And if you would like to send us a Top 10 of your favorite multicultural books from any genre or theme (we’ll also accept a Reader’s Ten – see Janet Wong’s selection for an explanation), just email me your list to marjoreATpapertigersDOTorg.