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To tell a story without words

  • Canato Jimo’s wordless picture book is the perfect treat for toddlers
  • The story focuses on a pair of siblings from the North-East who get up to no good

A spread from the book ‘Snip’.
A spread from the book ‘Snip’. (Photo: Pratham Books)

In 2017, when he was a final-year student at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Canato Jimo decided to work on a picture book for children for his graduation project. He was interning with Pratham Books, Delhi, at the time; there was inspiration galore around him.

“I wanted to do something with diversity and my culture back home in Nagaland," says Jimo, on the phone from the Capital, where he now works as an art director with Pratham Books. He took a look at the publishing scene and was struck by the sheer number of children’s books by writers and illustrators from the North-East that focused only on folk tales. “I have nothing against folk tales, but I also felt it wasn’t fair to box us into this one narrative, something that did not necessarily reflect our lived realities," he adds.

Snip: By Canato Jimo, Pratham Books, 16 pages,  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>45.
Snip: By Canato Jimo, Pratham Books, 16 pages, 45.

The result is Snip, an endearing story of two siblings and their cat, who live very much in the real world and, like most small children, are up to no good. One day, Avi and Toto, whose names appear on the back of the book, get their hands on a pair of scissors. And lo and behold, mischief strikes. You have to see for yourself to find out what happens to them.

While storyboarding the narrative, Jimo realized that the book was best served as a series of illustrations, without words (Ammachi’s Glasses by Priya Kuriyan, published in 2017, is another example of this format). “The idea was to tell a story about something universal, one that was relatable to all readers," he says. Since Snip was published in October, several adult readers too have assured him that it did, indeed, take them back to their childhood.

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