“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Do! • Picture book

by Gita Wolf, Ramesh Hengadi, and Shantaram Dhadpe 
Just out Tara Books Ages 3-8 
An introduction to basic verbs, aided by the elegantly minimalist pictograms of Warli art.
Story:  Do! is a set of action pictures, rendered in the Warli style of tribal art. It introduces basic verbs to the young reader through a series of brilliantly drawn pictograms, which illustrate the verb and tell a story.  "Do! is handprinted in white on brown kraft paper – simulating original Warli art that is painted on mud walls, using lime and chalk. Each page of the book houses a verb, with all images on that page illustrating that one action," writes V. Geetha, Director and Editor of Tara Books.
Story behind the story:  Warli art is done by people belonging to a tribal community that lives in Maharashtra, in western India. Ramesh Hengadi, Rasika Hengadi, Shantaram Dhadpe and Kusum Dhadpe are the artists featured in this book.

I've worked in publishing for a long time now and have seen lots of beautifully made, innovative books -- this is just that and more and I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered Tara Books, an independent publisher of picture books for adults and children based in Chennai, South India. Per their website, "Now in our fifteenth year, we remain a collective of dedicated writers, designers and artists who strive for a union of fine form with rich content. We continue to work with a growing tribe of adventurous people from around the world. Fiercely independent, we publish a select list that straddles diverse genres, offering our readers unusual and rare voices in art and literature."  How true.  Just holding and touching Do! is a special experience. V. Geetha writes about the book's "brilliant simplicity, the almost hieroglyphic style of Warli art that allows people across cultures to decipher its images as their own, and the fact that it links art with learning in an entirely unselfconscious way have made for its universal appeal."  Such universal appeal that it was chosen by the government of Mexico to be given to every public school in the country.  (Read more about the process and why here.)

Don't miss the video "How Do! Was Done"; do share it with your students and readers.

Elizabeth Bird from School Library Journal's Fuse #8 Production blog writes:  "Every year almost all the children's book publishers put out a whole lotta picture book schlock alongside some tiny gems. If you are a librarian, your job is to find those gems and to direct parents and teachers to them. Think of it as a game. It's like wading through muck to find a glint of gold. You can find it, but you have to be patient (and try to remember what gold looks like too). Particularly here in America, we children's librarians see lots of junk that looks exactly the same. So when I find myself handling a book like Do! I am almost at a loss to comprehend what I have before me. Tara Books is the only publisher in America that puts out handmade picture books straight out of places like Chennai, India. In Do! you have a fun concept book from the Warli tribal community. It's the kind of book that serves to remind us that there's more to literature for children than pretty sparkles and tales we've heard many times before. Do! I guarantee, is like nothing you'll find on your library shelves right now."  Be sure to read her entire blog post as she spends a great deal of time with this book and shares wonderful resources as well.

Plus Do! has won the Bologna Ragazzi "New Horizons" award for 2010.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say.


Peaceful Reader said...

I'm so sad! This title looks so great and I would love to use it in my library!!

Martine Battista said...

I like this book. I am surprised by the detail contained in such simple illustrations. I appreciate the craftsmanship of this book as well as the description of Warli art that is included at the end of the book. Unfortunately I don't think students will choose to read it on their own. I will suggest this book to the teachers who do units on Native American art. It will provide them with an easy opportunity to explore other cultures. I know they find it difficult to squeeze in new concepts so it will be a welcome companion piece. I can also use it to explain how books are made. A handmade book is something special and I look forward to sharing it with students.

I give it a 3.

Denair Elementary School Library
Denair, CA

Erin J said...

This was a wonderful book. The art is beautiful and the connection it makes to everyday words serves to really open children's eyes to the world. So many of my students are stuck in their own little bubbles and it is great to have a new tool to show them what life is like for others. I can guarantee that when asked what things they might pull on any given day, none of them would have thought to include the farming and more traditional activities presented in the book.

It also presents an easy platform for exploring most all basic verbs. Students are not limited to thinking about the activities they do that involve the verbs in the book. They could illustrate all sorts of different verbs. And, being hand-bound and silk-screened it lends well to exploring book-making techniques and different art projects. Students could easily make their own verb books complete with illustrations.

This book has such great connections to Language Arts and Social Studies that it would be a welcome addition in most classrooms.

Carol said...

This is a beautiful book, it is a work of art, an expression of culture, and a demonstration of process and presentation. When you grasp this book in your hands and gently turn the pages, you feel like you are holding a one of a kind masterpiece, made from the hands of somebody who deeply cares about the world around them. This book has a texture and smell to it that seems to call out...I am important and made from love to share love.

The small catalog is filled with fantastic books that look equally as powerful. I really look forward to purchasing many of them for the school library. Usually you have to travel to museum stores or specialty shops to get such literary treasures!

This book is beyond a 5!

janew said...

My copy arrived today and honestly, the book took my breath away! I knew immediately as I took the plastic wrap off and felt the book's textures,saw the case's rich colors of creamy white and chocolate brown that I was holding a very, very special book. Truly a work of art. The book's impact continues as it takes its reader page by page depicting people 'doing'life in the "traditonal Warli style of art" (back case) which has been silkscreened upon thick kraft paper (back case).
Exploring this book with children requires a small group huddled around the book--and well it should.There is much to see, feel,and sense on each double-spread that the conversations that are generated will be equally as rich.
I can't wait to share it with children. What a gift of beauty, culture,and craft. DO! get the book..

Anonymous said...

I was so excited to receive this book. I have been teaching 6th grade for a few years, and I am always looking for new books from the different cultures that we teach. I was in the process of teaching stories from India when this book became available. My students now have the opportunity to see and learn about this book made in India. Thank you for opening this site up to many places from around the world. This is another 5 of many in my picnic basket.

Barbara Duggan said...

Not glossy or flashy like most of our new books, Do! has a compelling, earthy feel. It invites touching and looking closely. If a class is creating their own books or studying/comparing picture book styles, this is a good addition. We will use it to complement our study of ancient India.

loonyhiker said...

I would give this book a 4 out of 5 only because it was very aromatic and as a person with allergies, I had a hard time going through the book. This picture book would be great as a way to teach verbs in the classroom. The pictures were delightfully made and really get the meaning of the verbs across to the reader. The entire book was made by hand and is full of texture, color, and even smell. This would also be a great book to use for introducing other cultures and other places around the world. I think this would also be a great way to teach students to create their own books with other words not in this book. As their vocabulary grows, the students would be able to add pages to their books and share it with others.

Pamela Kramer said...

I received my copy of this book and, as others have written, was struck by how beautiful the drawings and art work is. The book itself is a piece of art.

However, that being said, I don't think it is a book that children would choose to read on their own. It's simple, not flashy at all, and children tend to want to read books that look funny or cute.

I think this is a book that, when used by a teacher, can be quite useful. This book is a wonderful example of primitive drawings and shows how simple figures can convey so much more.

What was strange to me was that in the write-up on the blog it was touted as a book to teach verbs. I don't think it would be as effective in that as other books might be.

I give it a 3/5 for usefulness in the classroom, but a 5/5 for beauty and originality.

So, I guess that ends up a 4/5 for a picnic!

Carrie Blagg said...

"Do!" is a piece of art captured within the cover of a book. This book can be used in so many ways. This book is perfect for talking about different cultures, styles of art, learning of verbs, learning to read, or to write a story based on a page or pages of the book. The possibilities are endless. What a wonderful teaching tool!

This book receives 5/5.

Carrie Blagg, Librarian Assistant
Cherokee Elementary School
Paradise Valley, AZ

Inky Fingers said...

I just received my copy today and, as others have already said, I was immediately struck by the handcrafted nature of the book...the textures, the quality of construction, and the striking images. What a wonderful classroom tool for teaching verbs, Indian culture, bookmaking, artistic expression, and on and on! I also glanced at the little publisher catalog and have already selected several other titles to order from this unique publisher. I'd give this book an enthusiastic 5 because it is so very unique and lovely...a piece of artwork, indeed!

Stephanie White
Cameron University
Professor of Children's Literature and Creative Experiences

Heather Hill said...

"Do!" is wonderful in its simplicity. I felt as though I were paging through an ancient treasure. Though the traditional Warli art looks plain at first, it is anything but that. The longer you study each page, the more detail you see. This would be a great book to use with a Smartboard to project so that all the students could see the page and discuss at the same time. My 4 year old even liked looking to "find" the different things that were happening in each picture.

"Do!" is a magnificent treasure to share with students. I give the book a 5 out of 5.

Heather Hill, Reading Specialist
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

Julia Pitau said...

Do! is a very interesting book. Simple pictures drawn in white accompanied by a brownish background. Sound boring? Think again. Students and parents are revved up about this book. Great for PreK and Kindergarten students, Do! opens a pathway for some lively discussions.

Picnic Rating: 5

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Lisa Kennedy said...

I was so excited to have the chance to review this book. I was even more excited when it arrived and I was able to explore it from drawing to drawing and page to page. It is doubtful that any student at my school has ever seen or felt a handmade book. While I do not think it would survive long in an elementary school library it should certainly be added to books to be used by teachers. The illustrations/drawings are spectacular! We have a large Indian population at our school and anytime I introduce a new book that reminds them of India it is checked out immediately with a long line of holds. I will certainly be sharing it with my lower grade story times. My only complaint would be the the words might be more visible in a contrasting color. For that alone I give "do" a 4.95 on the Picnic Basket scale. Thanks for introducing me to this publisher.

Anonymous said...

This book is very interesting. I would love to use the book to teach with the Native American unit. The students are also amazed to learn that this book is hand made. I agree with something another writer said, that I don't think the students would choose the book on their own, unfortunately.

3.5 out of 5

Lindsay said...

I loved this book - what a neat and different idea! I cannot wait for my children to get a little older to be able to truly appreciate the beauty of this book.

There are a lot of ideas I have for using this book in my middle school classroom. It seems like a great tool for my lower-level students to get them to use their eyes to write and not a prompt.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Mrs. Brey's Third Grade class said...

Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! The minute I had a chance to read this book I couldn't resist. First of all, I was amazed as it was handmade! This book is perfect for teaching students verbs. Although it may have only one word on each page most of the pictures tell the story. If you ever get a chance to read "Do!", do it!

This third grade class gives this book 5/5.

Mrs. Brey's Third Grade class
Paradise Valley, AZ