Goodbooks congratulates the winners of The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Awards 2019!
(Best Picture Book: Story)
For ‘Angry Akku’, published by Pratham Books
Citation for ANGRY AKKU
by the jury (DEEPA BALSAVAR, SRIVI KALYAN, JANE SAHI):
Angry Akku is an unusual picture book that presents the complex emotion of anger in a sensitive way. Akku’s simmering anger and the reasons for it are revealed through a thoughtful conversation between father and daughter.
Vinayak Varma, writer and illustrator of the book, gently teases out the relationship between the feisty Akku and her father, who patiently responds to her dark mood. No single moral or readymade solution is offered but gradually her father encourages Akku both to express her feelings and to move on. Her father’s approach of using drawing to bring out Akku’s emotions captures a simple, yet powerful way to reach into a child’s heart. Akku’s drawings are as vibrant as her emotions and this interplay of illustration within illustration has been used very well as a creative device.
The text and the images complement each other well. The bold, black lines and the use of brightly-coloured oil pastels add to the impact of each page.
Vinayak Varma’s gift of storytelling and empathy, and the human values that underpin the text are subtly and powerfully woven together. Akku shows how anger is an honest emotion, while her father makes us cherish the wonderment and deep affection of being a parent.
(Best Picture Book: Illustration)
For ‘Ammachi’s Amazing Machines’, published by Pratham Books
Citation for AMMACHI’S AMAZING MACHINES
by the jury (DEEPA BALSAVAR, SRIVI KALYAN, JANE SAHI):
This is a picture book that is whimsical, energetic and exciting! Rajiv Eipe creates Ammachi, the feisty grandmother, who with a toolkit at her waist and a helmet on her head, sets about making coconut barfi for her grandson Sooraj in her own inimitable way.
Right from the cover and title illustrations, the reader gets an introduction to this intrepid inventor and her plausible machines. Some are creative and unconventional and others so familiar that children will look around their own homes with new eyes. There is enough science and realism in the drawings to satisfy the mechanically-minded child, but it is the celebration of life, learning and wackiness that shines through on every page.
The relationship between Ammachi and Sooraj is enviable and the humour in the dialogues and in the onomatopoeic words is beautifully reflected in the expressions and body language of the two. The evocative Kerala landscape is brought alive by the clever use of a subdued colour palette and the illustrations are packed with so much detail that even the most hesitant reader will be fascinated and encouraged.
Perhaps because Rajiv Eipe is both author and illustrator, the images and text are finely balanced and the layouts well-composed. The result is a multi-faceted picture book and an Ammachi you cannot get enough of!
(Best Book: Fiction)
For ‘Boy No. 32’, published by Scholastic India
Citation for BOY NO.32
by the jury (REVATHI SURESH, SHAILAJA MENON, PRACHUR GOEL):
Venita Coelho’s Boy No. 32 takes the reader on an adventurous ride through the underbelly of Mumbai, viewed through the lens of Battees, an orphan who is the sole witness to a bombing.
Coelho’s writing is effortless, and the narrative well-paced. The plot has enough twists and turns to keep the reader hooked until the end. Without preaching or appearing to ‘teach’ about the less privileged, she writes with empathy and humour about marginalized people – orphans, beggars and eunuchs – weaving their stories so naturally into the narrative that they are integral to the story and plot. The seamier side of Mumbai is brought alive through a vivid, visual style that speaks of the author’s experience as a screenwriter – be it the description of a beggars’ colony or a scene in which the eunuchs select their new queen. The fine details point as much to canny observation as to the gift for imagination. The characters leap off the page and linger in the reader’s mind long after the book has been put down.
Coelho’s thought-provoking and exciting book is a winner because it provides the young reader a window into complex and intriguing worlds. Its heart and emotional core will find the child in you no matter how old you are.
(Best Book: Non-Fiction)
For ‘A Brush with Indian Art’, published by Penguin India
Citation for A BRUSH WITH INDIAN ART
by the jury (SAMINA MISHRA, SIDDHARTHA SARMA, NIVEDITHA SUBRAMANIAM):
Informative and accessible, A Brush with Indian Art fills a conspicuous lacuna in publishing as it introduces children to the evolution of Indian art from prehistoric paintings to folk and contemporary work. In a little over a hundred pages, Nainy takes her readers across a broad canvas; exploring diverse schools and divergent styles, touching upon influences and confluences and highlighting key personalities, movements and shifts. A big draw is Nainy’s conversational tone that retains a sense of openness, whether she is focussing on subject, medium, process or experience. While the text neatly links the development of art to its socio-cultural context, there are questions, anecdotes and asides that directly address readers, encouraging them to keep a pulse on their own responses to it – ‘what the artwork makes you feel and why’.
(At the award ceremony during The Hindu Lit for Life at Chennai on 14 January 2019. From L to R: Rajiv Eipe, Vinayak Varma, Lemony Snicket, Venita Coelho, Mamta Nainy. Photo by Shyam Madhavan Sarada)