Monday, September 30, 2013

New Books From Karadi Tales: An Aesop Adaptation

A few years ago, I retold some mythological stories for Karadi Tales, and learned something about writing stories for an audience familiar with their context and background. I wrote about this in a 2010 post:

For years I've tried to shape my writing to be accessible to any audience. It's led me to try to write so fluidly that anyone could understand. That's taught me in turn to pull back on content that calls for too much interpretation, to say "royal dynasty" instead of "lunar dynasty" because the latter would just take too many words to clarify. Now I could pull out those stops. I could let battles play out on the page because readers would get the setup, would know who the combatants were, and might even in some instances know the outcome already. It felt as if I were speaking to a family gathering.
Now, Karadi Tales is distributing their books in the US through Consortium Book Sales & Distribution Services (CBSD). Several of their picture books are released in the US already, and one of them, The Rumor by Anushka Ravishankar, won the newly instituted South Asia Book Award.  

One of the e-books I received recently from Karadi is an interesting retelling of an Aesop fable, The Fox and the Crow, with text by Manasi Subramaniam and illustrations by German artist Culpeo Fox

The drama of the fox and crow, rivals in their quest for a piece of bread, plays out in deep, glowing spreads together with very spare text. The reader is pulled directly into the story from the beginning with an in medias res opening that is unusual in a picture book. Every action (even the moon "slithers" into the sky) slides the fable forward in its deliciously dangerous jungle setting. The book ends by circling subtly back to the notion that this is an age-old tale and will surely repeat itself. 

Writing is always shaped by its audience and purpose. It will be interesting to see how future books from Indian publishers might shift and change, now that more of them are available to young readers overseas. 

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