Traditional storytellers in India often use props, and one of the most elegant and striking is the kavad, or storyteller's box. Part of Rajasthani rural tradition, the kavad is a portable shrine depicting stories from the lives of Rama and Krishna, avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. It folds out into multiple spreads each with a series of pictures. It's the low-tech precursor to today's PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. The teller points to a picture with the tip of a feather as he tells his tale. Sometimes the stories from different epics are detailed on different sides of the fold-out pages. Each spread often serves more than one purpose, representing one set of characters in one tale, another in the next. It's a nonlinear format that is simultaneously ancient and remarkably fresh and accessible to contemporary children.
Tulika Books now offers a fold-out book, Home, inspired by the design of these story boxes. Here's Nina Sabnani, author of Mukand and Riaz, talking about this new title and its origins.