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Telling The Tale Of A Tail

At the Tara Book House in Chennai, award-winning author Anushka Ravishankar regaled audiences during the launch of her latest book, Tail Tale, with an interactive storytelling session

Images from the book Tail Tale, Illustrated by Tushar Vayeda and Mayur Vayeda, Text by Anushka Ravishankar, Published by Tara Books, Chennai.

Popular children’s books author Anushka Ravishankar seemed quite thoroughly confused as to how she was going to write an entire story revolving only around a pipe cleaner from Japan. But, as she wisely remarked, ‘When you have to fit in to a rhythm…your mind becomes freer, it has no police!’ Thus weaving her imagination with the artistic vision of the Vayeda brothers, who specialised in Warli painting, did the book ‘Tail Tale’ come to life. 

Images from the book Tail Tale, Illustrated by Tushar Vayeda and Mayur Vayeda, Text by Anushka Ravishankar, Published by Tara Books, Chennai.

At the cosy Tara Book House for the release of the book, we were thoroughly taken in by the humble but interactive approach towards the pipe cleaner. Anushka’s initial activity with a few children who were also present began with a simple question: What do you think we can do with this? Unfurling the furry wire into a line, the object was no longer twisted but straightened out, transforming the object for the child to experiment with. She then turned it into three other shapes – a bangle, a spring and the letter ‘S’, all of which are part of the book – with the children excitedly taking turns to guess what each twisted form represented. 

Images from the book Tail Tale, Illustrated by Tushar Vayeda and Mayur Vayeda, Text by Anushka Ravishankar, Published by Tara Books, Chennai.

The amusing tone of the story and the rhyming sentences played with the visuals quite well – making one wonder at the intensive detail of the illustrations done by the Vayeda brothers. Hailing from the Ganjad district of Maharashtra, they are expert Warli painters who confessed that they had never illustrated a story like this before. Of course, as they remarked, ‘We do not call it a painting; we call it writing. You write stories through the painting.’

Images from the book Tail Tale, Illustrated by Tushar Vayeda and Mayur Vayeda, Text by Anushka Ravishankar, Published by Tara Books, Chennai.

They were quite surprised by the fact that the author had made up such an elaborate and lovely story about a tail and added that they never really experimented so much with the ‘body’ of a ‘tail’ giving them ample opportunity to work on conveying expression through shapes, thus translating tradition into a modern tale (tail?). 

At the end of the event, one couldn’t help but appreciate that this was a story for the young and the young at heart!

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