When I hear of a Tara book, my expectation levels climb. Tara Books, now renowned for over seventeen years to give voice to uncommon visual arts and communities, has done this to me. Every publication of theirs results in a sharp intake of breath… about possibilities from the book as a medium in itself and then the art and the content.

Visit the Bhil Carnival sits right within my expectation of Tara Books. I caught a hint of the die-cut holes I marvelled at in I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tale (another wonderful Tara publication) and I was immediately in the book. This is one book that you get ‘in’ to, almost immediately. A book within a book and so visually captivating that your eyes and mind dance all over the spreads.

Neela and Peela are excited about going to Bhagoria, a carnival that the Bhils celebrate every year. A fascinating map tells them a story, innovative signs prevent them from losing their way, a series of wondrous sights greet them… as they make their way through the grounds where the carnival takes place.

The book is a metaphor for the carnival, I imagine. The almost overwhelming ‘what to do now’ feeling that might assault a visitor to the fair is what rises to greet you when you open the book. It appears to be a one-page book until you adjust to the sights and symbols and then an interactive story unfolds. There’s so much to do, both at the real and represented carnival. Why has the word ‘carnival’ been used instead of fair’, I wonder. Well, it perhaps provides another word symbol or cultural connect for ‘foreign’ readers.

The paintings by Subhash Amaliyar are fluid and capture movement distinctively, and the physicality of the book keeps you wandering around the carnival, until like Neela and Peela, you might say, ‘I’m tired. See you next year!’

Author: Gita Wolf
Illustrator: Subhash Amaliyar
24 pages
Rs 650.00
ISBN: 9789383145119
Tara Books, 2014
Subject category: Contemporary/Picture Book
Age-group: 3+

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