Did you know that Pablo Picasso would wear blue-striped shirts all the time, almost like a uniform? Or that he would paint according to his moods—using blues when he was sad? Now, a children’s book, Grown Ups Who Never Stopped Drawing, contains many such anecdotes about the artist’s life and practice. It makes Picasso and his style of cubism accessible to four-year-old kids through stories, colouring worksheets, and questions. The book encourages kids to draw animals in Picasso’s style, using unbroken lines. It allows kids to view a different facet to art—that it is possible to be creative using few and simple lines. It is not always necessary for art to be ornate and embellished to be impactful.
Grown Ups Who Never Stopped Drawing, illustrated by Urvashi Dubey, and published by Daffodil Lane Books, is about 10 famous masters, containing fun facts and activities. “Packed with great lessons on courage, perseverance and determination; knowing that their stories are real makes the message all the more powerful,” mentions Sanya Podar, founder of the publishing house, which focuses on books as aesthetic objects to critically engage kids.
Another chapter in the book sheds light on the multifaceted personality of Leonardo da Vinci, who dabbled in many things: astronomy, maths, engineering, music, art, and more. Kids would be interested in knowing that Da Vinci designed a flying machine 500 years before the first plane took to the skies. The pages of the book are like works of art in their own right, peppered with images of Da Vinci’s iconic artworks, and illustrations of his inventions such as the flying machine. The worksheet given below the story allows children to draw their own version of the Mona Lisa. The idea is to foster curiosity in children. “Think of what you want to be when you grow up, and don’t stop at just one. Like Da Vinci, you can be as many things as you like!” is a line in the book.
Besides artist book, Daffodil Lane Books has also come up with two fiction books for four-year-olds, There’s a Leopard in My House and Don’t Intrude on My Mood. The former is authored by Vaishali Shroff and illustrated by Urvashi Dubey. The story starts when little Leela comes home from school, only to be greeted by a polite leopard, instead of her mum. He insists that this is his house too. And thus starts a sensitive tale about how humans tend to encroach onto wild lands, home to scores of animals, displacing them in turn. Leela, touched by the story, teams up with the leopard to try to save one such forest, resulting in an adventure for both of them.
Don’t Intrude on My Mood follows a little cat, who seems to be in a bad mood throughout the day. Nothing seems to be going right for him, and he feels like snapping at whoever comes close to him. But as the story progresses, he tries to find ways to cope with his anger. This book seeks to help kids understand their moods and cope with difficult situations.
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According to Podar, these books are a result of extensive collaborations between the authors, illustrators and the publishing house. “They are informed about the process from day 1. We go through a lot of references, and organised a few focus group readings at the initial storyboard stage. We get early childhood experts to look at stories to ensure that we don’t miss things and not include anything that is not age-appropriate. It is a super fun process,” she says.