About Mama Suranya Books
From the Author-Illustrator
Hello and welcome to Mama Suranya Books. I am the author and illustrator of these books. I am a mother-of-two – a shy 9-year-old girl and a lively 7-year-old boy who both love to paint and like a good story! I got the idea for Mama Suranya Books from reading to them. I felt the need for more stories that were rooted in Indian life and culture, especially for children living in cities and educated in English-medium schools.
My stories are inspired by all big and small things Indian – our festivals, legends and arts; our iconic trees, birds and animals; and the stuff of everyday life in my city of Delhi, like the long, hot summer, the blessed relief of the monsoon, and our love of mangoes, to name a few! Do have a look at our storytelling videos in the section called “Storytelling Videos by the Author” to get a better idea of what our books are about.
Recently we also started publishing our stories in Hindi. We plan to roll out translations in other Indian languages as well.
My artwork is inspired by different Indian and Asian folk and classical arts. In order to make the illustrations appealing to children, I also draw heavily from contemporary cartoon and illustration styles. The idea is for the drawings to feel familiar to the child, while at the same time giving them a sense of Indian art. For example, let them see how an eye can be drawn not just as a circle or half-oval as in typical cartoons but also in the beautiful fish or almond shape that is typical of Indian art. Compare the drawings of peacocks in our best-selling book The Peacock Who Wanted to Fly Like an Eagle, to how they are depicted in contemporary children’s illustration; I have tried to retain the elegance and grace of the peacock while at the same time drawing it in a friendly, informal way that will appeal to young children.
To further children’s knowledge of Indian folk arts we have taken out folk-art colouring books with drawings by practicing folk artists. The colouring books currently out are on Rajasthani Phad Art, we have Madhubani colouring books in the pipeline, and lots more to come.We have also curated collections of folk, miniature and modern Indian art on Pinterest for children to explore. The collections can be accessed from our Art Library section: Art Library: Look and Learn About Art!
We will be taking out a series of classical music and classical dance themed videos for children on this website in the section called “Fun and Learning with Mama Suranya Videos”.
Do also have a look at videos of our storytelling events . The stories are read out with the illustrations shown on a projector. We try to have a classical dancer present depicting the stories through hasta-mudras and small movements along with the author’s narration. In this way the child enjoys the story while at the same time getting a taste of classical Indian dance.
Your child can also enjoy storytelling sessions at home on the section “Storytelling Videos by the Author” which will have a different Mama Suranya Books story each week read by the author with pictures from the books and lovely music composed by leading Ustads.
We also organise shows with leading classical dancers, puppet shows, mime shows and art workshops based on our stories. Information on our events will be announced on this website from time to time in the “What’s New!” section. We invite organisers and artistes interested in collaborating on such shows to get in touch.
As you will have gathered Mama Suranya Books is not just about books. We are trying to awaken Indian children to the wonders of India’s arts, legends, music and dance. We believe that the culture of this land is an Indian child’s greatest inheritance and as life changes we have to think of new ways of keeping our children connected with India’s arts and oral traditions.
For us at Mama Suranya Books, the book is the start but not the end of this effort. Through our books, storytelling performances, videos and social media projects Mama Suranya Books is trying to re-introduce some of the things that books and modern education are perhaps leaving out of children’s lives and indeed, all our lives, in India today.I invite all of you – parents, artists, schools, production companies and scholars – to get in touch if you are interested in any of these ideas.
Suranya Aiyar (Mama Suranya to my little readers!)
New Delhi, January 2019