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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Gita Wolf
Age Range: 6-8
Winner of the 2010 Ragazzi award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Do! is no ordinary picture book. It is unique in its mixture of action pictures, almost fluid like pictographs, all drawn in the traditional style of art from the Warli tribal community of painters in Maharashtra, western India.
Do! contains a series of double-page spreads with only a word or two per page, each depicting one or two activities such as ‘Work’, ‘Dance’, ‘Carry’, ‘Play’ and ‘Cook’. There are scenes full of people and animals doing all sorts of things, the figures are not static as they are constantly on the move – hence the title of the book and the concept behind it.
The intriguingly simple yet detailed illustrations, all hand printed, make every page a treat to pore over. Children will have fun finding the vignettes such as the cows pulling the thread or the monkey carrying the baby. Do! can be used in a number of different ways from learning words to discovering stories amongst the action on each page or drawing pictures in the Warli style.
Warli art is a typically rural art tradition that is both narrative and descriptive. Traditionally it is the women of the community who paint the walls of their home, especially during festivals and family occasions. The walls are washed with brown cow dung and a special mud. The images are created in white paint which is made of lime and a type of chalk and the brushes used are made of bamboo. Both men and women paint in this style today and the art is used commercially on canvas, paper and cloth as well as on the walls of their homes.
The artwork by Indian illustrators Ramesh Hengadi and Shantaram Dhadpe in Do! will ensure that readers spend hours poring over the pictures looking at every detail. Silk-screen printed on recycled Kraft paper to recreate the mud walls of village homes where the art has its origins, it allows the reader to explore an aspect of Indian culture. Ideal for parents and teachers telling their own stories, or for allowing children to create their own narratives.