Books for children cater to a range of interests, with stories of worlds distant and familiar, often with a mixture of fable, myth and the modern world. Some of the best seek to educate in subtle ways such as Suniti Namjoshi’s adventures of Aditi. These speak to readers of all ages drawing them into deeper, subtle meanings. Then there is the role of the illustrator, so crucial to drawing the child into a magical world. Acclaimed artist Nilima Sheik charms the child in Blue and Other Stories. In much the same way difficult concepts in Leila Seth’s Preamble to the Constitution of India are enlivened by captivating photographs, and inspiring illustrations by Bindia Thapar. Among the very first to combine story telling with history and education was Sheila Dhar’s History of India for Children, which set a benchmark decades ago with illustrations by Biren De.
Premola Ghosh is among the few who both write and illustrate. Her vivid story telling and vibrant images capture the imagination with a gang of animals with whom she travels. The first of her books Gang Tales from Ranthambhore and The Bodhisattva and the Gang were followed by Tales from Historic Delhi. In this as in Zero Goes to Goa, Premola offers young and old a colourful guidebook for families on holiday leading them skillfully through a region she clearly loves.