Technically, India marks Children's Day on 14 November to raise awareness about children's education and rights. Given this, consider some of these lovely titles for your favourite young readers. (Image: Unsplash)
Women in Sports by Pervin Saket, AdiDev Press: “She was forced to quit her sport, but Arunima didn’t lose heart; she cast her glance at snowy peaks, and made a fresh new start” It is with such engaging and simple verse that author-poet Pervin Saket introduces young kids, aged 4-8, to the inspiring stories of South Asian sports women such as mountaineer Arunima Sinha, open water swimmer Bhakti Sharma, sharp shooters Chandro and Prakashi Tomar and athlete PT Usha. Published by AdiDev Press, each of the books is themed around one quality that makes these athletes inspiring: take, for instance, Sinha’s adaptability, as she went on to become the first female amputee to scale Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro, and more. She didn’t let her injury hamper her dreams, and adapted to the situation to scale new heights. Then there is Sharma’s sheer resilience that made her the first Asian woman and the youngest in the world to set a record in open swimming through icy cold Antarctic waters. She has swum in all five oceans of the world. Each book also features a timeline of each sports woman’s journey. In a country, where sports is still considered an extracurricular activity, stories of such bravehearts serve as examples for parents to support a child’s journey, if they choose to pursue a discipline. These books, which also come in a set, also hope to inspire kids to never let adversity ever stand in their way. Price: The box set costs ₹1,500 while each book is priced at ₹499
Thammi's Gift by Himani Dalmia and illustrated by Priya Kuriyan, HarperCollins Children’s Books: A recurring theme, in the past year or so, when it comes to children’s books, has been that of reassurance. Authors are increasingly becoming cognisant of the anxieties—small and big—that kids might be facing, and have started to address those in their books. Thammi’s Gift, by Himani Dalmia, a certified infant and child sleep specialist, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, is one such story. Featuring evocative illustrations by Priya Kuriyan, the book deals with major transitions in a young girl’s life—of changing schools, dealing with the loss of a grandparent, and more. The story revolves around Devika, who has a lovely library at home, populated with books bought by her Thammi or grandmother, who used to be a librarian. There are books on magic, on dragons, about faraway lands that Thammi used to read to Devika. A couple of years later, the little girl had to deal with the loss of her beloved grandmother. “She has become a star,” her mother said and soon there was no one to read to her. Added to that was the anxiety of going to a new school. The beautiful tale is about how Thammi, now a star, visits her and takes Devika on a whirlwind adventure through the world of books and helps her cope with changes. Thammi’s Gift is also a tribute to librarians, especially the pioneering Bandana Sen. Price: ₹499
History Hunters: Akbar and the Agents from the East by Archana Garodia Gupta and Shruti Garodia, Hachette India: You ask any child in the age group of 9-14 about what one of their biggest fantasies is, and they would say ‘time travel’. While the technology to achieve this is still a futuristic dream, there are books that will help you fulfill this desire. The History Hunters series by Shruti Garodia and Archana Garodia Gupta is one such set. While the first book saw four friends, Zoya, Noor, Ansh and Rohan, along with their elephant buddy, Elfu, enter the world of Chandragupta Maurya, the latest title, History Hunters: Akbar and the Agents from the East, sees them travel back to the court of the famous Mughal Emperor. They are nudged to go back in time by a mysterious billionaire to get Akbar’s DNA to understand if there are some common traits that make iconic personalities great. The friends, on the other hand, agree to this in order to meet Akbar and his equally famous courtier Birbal. The book offers adventures at breathtaking speed, with the youngsters dodging poisoned robes, hidden assassins and fierce warriors. This one is a must-read. Price: ₹299
Dancing with Birds by Bulbul Sharma, Talking Cub: 'On a red and gold toffee tree, Where all the sweets are free, You can hear a bird go, Grrru-grrrru-grumble gee.' What a great way to learn about the lorikeet, a handsome little colourful bird, who seems to grumble her way through the day, upsetting bees, eagles and other dwellers of the forest. Using such playful poems, writer-illustrator Bulbul Sharma introduces kids, aged 6 plus, to the wonderful world of birds such as the woodpeckers, owls, eagles, and more. The author, who also teaches art to children with special needs, has based the writing and illustrations on her personal experience of coming across these winged wonders in the hills, where she resides and goes on birdwatching and talkingtotrees excursions. This is a great introduction for kids to the splendour of nature. Price: ₹250
Spaceboy by David Walliams, HarperCollins Children’s Books: Walliams’ books are usually laugh riots, be it Megamonster or Gangsta Granny, and his latest title, Spaceboy, is no different. This one is a must-read for all science fiction enthusiasts. The story starts at a dusty old farm in the midwest, where young Ruth spends nights gazing at the cosmos through her telescope. She yearns for a more exciting life, and her dream comes true when a UFO crash-lands in a cornfield. This is a tale packed with mystery, as Walliams, a science-fiction enthusiast himself, takes kids aged 7-11, on a comic adventure, set in the space race of the 1960s. Price: ₹408
Barefoot Empress by chef Vikas Khanna, illustrated by Aaryama Somayaji, Bloomsbury India: Can your fourth-grader imagine having a 96-year-old classmate? Chef Vikas Khanna, who has also ventured into writing — he wrote and directed The Last Color, a 2019 film on widows in Vrindavan and Varanasi — picks up the inspirational tale of Karthyayani Amma. The 2020 Nari Shakti Puraskar awardee was the oldest of over 43,000 candidates who appeared for the Aksharalaksham test. The Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority even declared this a record test score. Khanna is also working on a short, 15-minute- documentary on Karthyayani Amma. Inherently, the story can help children overcome any conditioned ideas of ageism, makes them aware of the history of and issues surrounding female literacy, and the idea, of course, of working towards whatever you set your mind to, reason, age, circumstance and end-goal notwithstanding. Price: Rs. 239
Nritya Katha by Jaya Mehta, National Book Trust: A book by Odissi dancer-guru Jaya Mehta brings short stories about nine dance forms Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Kathakali, Kathak, Chhau, Mohiniyattam and Sattriya to kids. The 80-page long book features nine different child-protagonists, making the subject even more accessible to a child who is being introduced to, or is curious about, some of India’s various dance forms. The book is richly illustrated by Suruba Natalia. Price: Rs. 220
The People of the Indus and the Birth of Civilisation in South Asia by Nikhil Gulati with Dr Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Penguin Random House India: We’ve all studied about the Indus Valley Civilisation in middle school history textbooks. But this book is a graphic novel that dives deep into the lives of the people back in 3200 BC. A present day narrator walks through the ruins of Mohenjodaro, and starts narrating the story of an ancient people. Nikhil Gulati’s storytelling can feel a bit didactic (“let us see how”) at times. But his illustrations are brilliant — the impressive, detailed, and sometimes even labelled sketches are backed by Dr. Jonathan Mark Keyboyer, an archeologist and anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, US, who excavated and studied the Harappan sites for over 35 years. Their forces combined, the book attempts an exhaustive, researched look at the various elements that made the culture, architecture, and life of the civilisation. “My only hope is that it will kindle an interest in some of the readers towards exploring the past further,” writes Gulati in his introduction. The pages that follow promise to live up to his hope. Price: Rs. 599
What is Molly Doing series by Natasha Sharma, Red Panda: Of all the dogs whose stories (fictional or real) have been chronicled lately, Molly’s is by far the most fun. The spunky and cute black dog with a little bow is hilarious, in both thought and action. Written by Natasha Sharma and illustrated by Nirzara Verulkar, in the first book, Molly, despite constant no’s from her human, wants to smell everything. The twist of events that close the book is a great, chuckle-inducing silver lining to any adult’s day, especially when read with their child(ren). In thesecond book, Molly wants to adorably convince the reader that she is actually a harmless, but very fierce dog. Price: Rs. 299 each
A Treasure Trove of Timeless Tales, Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan, Red Panda: Award winning voice artist Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan brings super short bedtime fables for children -— there are Puranic legends, folktales from Japan, endearing Aesop’s Fables, in addition to 100-word lockdown snippets. Full of wisdom, magic, and far off lands, kids, and gods, these 14 sections will be just the right way to end a child’s — and your — day. Price: Rs. 199
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How to turn a Buddhist concept into high fashion, by Prabal Gurung
The designer celebrated his homeland, Nepal, and the idea of optimism in his grand showcase at the ongoing New York Fashion Week
On 10 February, Nepal-born Gurung explored the Buddhist concept of ‘anichya’ or impermanence, while celebrating his heritage. Models walked the runway wearing colour in the centre hair parting that matched their outfit. (REUTERS)
Gurung's fall collection clothes were asymmetrical, sharper and longer. (AFP)
The show, which was presented at the main branch of the New York Public Library, had a mirrored square runway. (REUTERS)
‘In Nepal, we talk about it all the time, what is present and how soon it can go,’ he told The Associated Press in a backstage interview. ‘And there’s actually an optimism to that, especially during these challenging times.’ (AP)
New York Fashion Week serves goth, grief and a lot of glamour
At the ongoing fashion event, designers presented different moods for streetwear as well as ready-to-wear garments
The Collina Strada show, which was an ode to animals, kept the street-wear touch of the brand intact, while keeping colours more sober and elegant than usual (AFP)
The Nicholas Raefski spring-summer 2023 collection on 10 February, titled ‘The Stars Don’t Look Bigger, But They Do Look Brighter’, was a more retro take on modern menswear. (Getty Images via AFP)
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Prabal Gurung explored different emotions, from despair to joy, in his collection, which included butterfly motifs, wool jackets and hues of vermilion, saffron, burgundy and dusty pinks. ‘In Nepal, we talk about it all the time, what is present and how soon it can go,’ he told The Associated Press in a backstage interview. ‘And there’s actually an optimism to that, especially during these challenging times.’ (AP)
19 works that you simply must see at the India Art Fair 2023
Nearly 85 exhibitors are presenting from South Asia at the 2023 edition of this annual cultural event. Lounge helps you navigate this art maze with a list of eclectic works
Imagined worlds: The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is showcasing a work by Raqib Shaw, which has not been shown in the public sphere so far. True to the artist’s signature style, this work too draws on iconography from the East and the West. It stands out for its comment on the violence that has spread through the world today, destroying the beauty of cultures and places in its wake
Metaphysical ideas in metal: Interior designer Vikram Goyal has unveiled a new series of sculptural pieces at the fair, taking his engagement with materiality and craftsmanship to the next level. Especially interesting is ‘The Tree of Good Fortune’ set of sculptures, which draws from the Brutalist style. “Each limb is made with multiple, unpolished parts in brass, the studio’s signature material, welded together with exposed edges and a patinated gold surface,” states the artist note.
Stitching personal narratives: Shrine Empire is presenting a series of thread works by Renuka Rajiv. The artist, in works such as Virus Body and Blood Tradition, brings together their childhood interest in fabric and the handmade. Using techniques like tie-dye and embroidery, and materials such as old garments of family and friends, Rajiv’s works have always been deeply autobiographical—often being a comment on gender, sexuality, and relationships.
Capturing paradoxes: One gets to observe two facets of artist Shivani Aggarwal’s practice as part of an outdoor project as well as the showcase by Studio Art at the fair. Her massive steel-finished fibreglass sculpture, How do I Measure The Scale, placed outside, aptly looks at the paradoxical attempts at measuring the intangible. At the Studio Art booth, you can see a set of five wooden newspapers, as part of Lost Stories—Time and Transformation, which look at the transient nature of news, the idea of preserved time and attempts at small radical changes by the common citizens.
Feminism in gold-and-white: A childhood memory of her ammamma, or grandmother, in a kasavu mundu veshti has informed artist Lakshmi Madhavan’s practice. The smell and fabric of the kasavu textile, now a dying art practised only in Balarampuram, Kerala, has stayed with her. “The kasavu mundu veshti comes with highly coded designs and ways of wearing, depending on its wearer’s gender, class and caste,” states the artist note. Madhavan, who is the artist-in-residence at the fair, has created a series of gold-and-white panels, Hanging by a Thread, with the words ‘some/body’, ‘every/body’, ‘no/body’, woven into the border to highlight the fact that the very weavers who create the textile are not allowed to wear it. The panels are being presented by the Devi Art Foundation.
Transcending boundaries: Mrinalini Mukherjee is known for defying categorisation—through her career she sculpted unusual anthropomorphic forms in fibre, which defied scale, and were erotic, sensual and unsettling at the same time. Now, one can see a different facet of her practice at the Jhaveri Contemporary booth, which is showcasing rare works in bronze by the artist along with a pair of watercolours. The set of reflective landscapes feature muted colours—in her signature style—and inky tones.
A vibrant showcase: Galleria Continua, which has spaces in San Gimignano, Paris, Beijing, Dubai, and more, has an eclectic presentation at the fair, featuring works by Ai Weiwei, Kiki Smith and Nikhil Chopra. German-born, American artist Smith, who is known for her figural work themed around regeneration, sex and the natural world, is showing her acclaimed work, Shadow, which features celestial motifs. Then there is Osvaldo González’s Camino, which makes use of LED lights, and showcases the artist’s fascination with space.
A pioneering practice: New York-based Aicon Contemporary is showing a poignant series of works, Allah (an acrylic on canvas) and an untitled painted wood piece by Rasheed Araeen, a Pakistan-born, London-based artist, writer, activist and curator. According to the gallery, the artist is recognised as the pioneer of minimalist sculpture in Britain. “His work in performance, photography, painting and sculpture throughout the 1970s to 1990s challenged Eurocentrism within the British art establishment and his curation and writing championed the role of artists from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean,” states the note. Since the 1970s he has published his own art journals and authored several books, with Islam & Modernism being the latest, published in 2022.
All the world’s a stage: Hyderabad-based Kalakriti Art Gallery is presenting a new body of work, titled ‘Masquerade: An Endless Drama’, by Avijit Dutta. He uses tempera to reflect on the theatricality of life, with different scripts and characters engaging with one another. “An unseen tug of war thrives- between creative liberty and concept notes, fact and fiction, love and false affection, class, and mass. Truth is lost in this whirlwind melee of pretence and projected reality,” states the curatorial note about the premise of this set of artworks.
Hybrid worlds: The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art is showcasing a special artist project, ‘Alternate Evolutions’, by Shrimanti Saha. The artist creates vivid visual worlds out of paper cutouts and drawings. Unhindered by a frame or borders, these visuals spread across walls like an “organism”. “The installation assumes multiple (after)lives, having been conceived in the various studios and residency spaces that she has worked in,” states the curatorial note. Saha has also extended these cut-out drawings into her animations, in which she approaches the moving image with the temperament of a painter.
The body as a site of art: Experimenter has brought extremely thought-provoking works to the fair by artists like Sohrab Hura, Adip Dutta, Biraaj Dodiya, Julien Segard, Kallol Datta, Kanishka Raja, Praneet Soi, Sahil Naik, and more. Make sure to view the work, Self Portrait at Dawn, by Bhasha Chakrabarti, who is deeply interested in exploring the world through the body and the skin as a medium. Her ongoing show at Experimenter-Ballygunge Place, curated by Shaunak Mahbubani, reflects on this aspect of her practice, in which she looks at gestures enacted by wrists, fingers, calves and feet in moments of togetherness. (Seen here: Sohrab Hura, ‘The green dress,’ 2022 – Ongoing)
Mirroring reality: New York-based Israeli artist Yigal Ozeri is premiering his series, ‘Americana’ at the Bruno Art Group’s booth. The set of photo realistic works are dedicated to the ‘diner’ as an American pop culture icon. This year is all the more special as it marks the gallery’s tenth year of participation at the fair. Ozeri is known for his large-scale cinematic portraits of women framed against lush landscapes. “With tinges of Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics, Ozeri brings an ethereal and uninhibited sensibility to his paintings,” states the gallery note.
New stories in miniature: Gallery Espace is presenting a new series of miniature paintings by Udaipur-based artist Waswo X Waswo. Titled ‘Last Ride in the Wild,Wild, East’, this new body of work features elements of realism with the fantastical. This series has been produced in collaboration with the 29 year old Chirag Kumawat, who is making his debut at the fair. As always, Waswo presents deeply-layered works, in which the unfamiliar shares space with recognisable imagery. (Seen here: Last Ride in the Wild Wild East (detail 1), 2022)
A different way of seeing: Akar Prakar is showcasing a set of works by artist Jayashree Chakravarty, who is known for her innovative techniques using organic material and paper. Especially interesting is her work, Rajbari, made with oil, acrylic, cotton, tea stain, grass, seeds, roots, jute and synthetic glue on canvas. One has to closely observe her creations to understand the many parts that come together as a whole. Nature and metamorphosis feature as themes in her practice in a big way—something that she attributes to the time spent in Santiniketan. Some of her other works at the fair include Simmering Synergies and Alien Sphere.
Art that pulsates with energy: The Baroda-based artist, T Venkanna, is known for his powerful and fantastical imagery. His work, which is being shown by Gallery Maskara, represents “an uncommon expressive versatility and freedom of brushstroke to create a dreamlike atmosphere.” The gallery will also be unveiling a special work by Rooshad Shroff and Venkanna, called ‘PleasurePain’, with details of the latter’s drawings having been translated into a marble inlay on recycled old Burma teak wood with natural PU polish.
A unique indigenous language: One can see the masterpieces of Indian folk and tribal art at the booth of Inherited Arts Forum. The presentation features works collected from the interiors of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, created by artists like Balu Jivya Mashe, Bhuri Bai and Mangla Bai. The idea is to showcase the incomparable diversity and the extremely contemporary language of artists from the Bhil, Warli and Pithora traditions. (Seen here: Mangla Bai, ‘Untitled’)
Making a strong statement: At the booth of Gallery Art and Soul, one can see a layered work by Mayuri Chari, in which text is juxtaposed against imagery on cloth. “I was not born in this society, I was created by the society,” read the words in one of the works. This creation is part of Object Making Exercises’, a dual solo of Upendra Ram and Chari, curated by Prabhakar Kamble. Both the artists are deeply embedded in the acts of the artisanal. “The works intend to narrate and speak with an audience whilst delving into the propositions of visuality of how we view the folk, gender and the narrative in Rural India. Are these voices heard even when they hold aesthetical and conceptual merit within an art fair? States the note by Kamble.
A plurality of approach: Emami Art is presenting new works by ten contemporary artists, themed around pressing issues of the times such as agrarian politics, issues of sustainability and gender politics. One can see a mix of mid-career artists such as Soma Das with younger artists like Arpita Akhanda, Debashish Paul, Ujjal Dey, and more, working with diverse mediums ranging from textile, ceramics and printmaking to paper weaving and tempera painting. In a first, Emami Art will also be showcasing video works and sculptural dress engaging with issues of the body and identity. (Seen here: Arpita Akhanda's ‘Berunda’)
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Cardi B wore a gown by Gaurav Gupta, which he recently presented as part of his spring-summer couture collection at the Paris Haute Couture Week. (Getty Images via AFP)
Doja Cat paid tribute to an iconic Grammys looks (remember Jennifer Lopez's plunging Versace gown?) in a Roberto Cavalli gown with a moto jacket bodice unzipped to her navel and a skirt of neon feathers. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Harry Styles' graphic, low-cut jumpsuit was made by Parisian label Egonlab. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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Paris Haute Couture Week: Vaishali S. creates an underwater journey
The designer stays true to her signature style while offering new silhouettes and blends of shimmering materials
The show took place in a room stripped of wallpaper, with rows of electrical wires visible.
All the females models wore Kolhapuri chappals (from Vaishali’s hometown state), while walking in clothes were structured, yet flowy.
Vaishali S. presented her collection, Abyss, on 24 January under the landmark, La Pyramide Inversée skylight, at Carrousel du Louvre. The collection included 35 garments, made using different silks and uplifted with traditional embroideries.
Vaishali S. greets the crowd after presenting her collection
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Children’s Day 2022: 10 exciting new books for kids