Do! Read! Enjoy! Fall in love!

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It’s worth repeating πŸ™‚

Do! Read! Enjoy! Fall in love!


These may be exhortations, but I can assure you that if you pick up a copy of Do! by Ramesh Hengadi and Shantaram Dhadpe with Gita Wolf, published by Tara Books, these things will come naturally to you. Do! is a heady mixture of gorgeous art, open ended storytelling, an adventurous exploration of an aspect of Indian culture and beauty made solid in the form of a stunning handmade book.

Winner of the 2010 Ragazzi award at the Bologna Children’s Book fair, Do! contains a series of double page spreads each depicting one or two activities, all drawn in the style of art from the Warli tribal community of painters in Maharashtra, western India. “Work”, “Dance” “Farm” “Play” are just some of the verbs depicted in the intriguingly simple yet detailed illustrations, all hand printed, and every page is a treat to pour over. M and J have loved challenging each other to find vignettes such as the monkey carrying her baby, the mice climbing the roof, the crab in the stream.

This book is for you if you and your children like telling your own stories; with only a word or two per page accompanying scenes full of people and animals doing all sorts of things, this book makes it easy to weave your own stories and for your kids to create their own narratives.

This book is for you if your children (or you!) enjoy books like Where’s Wally?, Flotsam or looking for the duck in Usborne books; the illustrations in Do! will draw any “reader” in – my two girls have spent a long time pouring over the pictures looking at every detail.

This book is for you if you appreciate books to hold, feel and smell; Do! is a book you want to have in your hands, not on a shelf . Having been silk-screen printed on recycled kraft paper (to recreate the mud walls of village homes where the art has its origins) its easy to feel connected right back to the people who made it. And reading that helps you feel connected to the world around you is exactly my sort of reading!

Do(!) take a look at this video showing how the book was made.

Appropriately enough for a book from a publishing house whose name means “star” in a number of Indian languages, Do! is a stellar book. Unusual, engaging, gorgeous, creative. Yep, it’s been a big hit in our home!

The final illustration in this lovely book is based around the verb “Draw”; The images show how the reader can create their own Warli-style figures. This was all the encouragement we need to go off and do our own drawing. But to create something of a keepsake (which seemed like the right think to do given that this book is indeed worthy of being a keepsake), we opted to draw Warli-style using glue, and to create a batik style decorated pillowcase. Here’s what we did.

We got a white pillowcase and used Elmer’s Galactic glitter glue to draw our Warli inspired scene. We left the glue 24 hours to dry.

When the glue was dry we painted the pillowcase with watered down acrylic paint. Again we left this to dry – probably a couple of hours.

Once the paint was dry I soaked the pillowcase in warm water for half an hour and rubbed off the glue. Once all the glue was washed away, and the pillowcase dry, I ironed it to help further “fix” the paint-dye and then it was ready to have a pillow put inside.

We’ve all been really impressed with this technique – the pillowcase is a HUGE hit with the girls (they’ve been fighting over who gets to sleep with it) – and now we’re planning on creating a matching duvet cover, telling all sorts of stories using these Warli figures and inspiration from Do!

A few technical notes on what we did: This glue-batik process takes a little while and M, a strong 6 year old, found it pretty hard work to squeeze out the glue. I wonder if using a flour/water mix and a ketchup bottle, like Sheela at The Joy of My Life, would be easier for little hands. If you go down the glue route, I chose the Elmer’s galactic glitter glue as most websites I visited about glue-batik recommended it – others might work just as well, but I found this easily in Rymans so thought I’d give it a go. We use about half the bottle to create the pillow case. When rubbing the glue off I had to use a scrubber to help get it all off, but this was easy after a good 30 minutes soak in warm water.

Do!: *** (three out of three stars). Do! is available on Amazon.co.uk here, and on Amazon.com here. Alternatively you can buy the book direct from the UK distributors here or you can email Maegan at Tara Books to find out about the nearest bookshop to you any where in the world which stocks it!

Whilst we glued and painted we listened to:

  • Lullaby by Ali Akbar Khan, on Putumayo Kids’ Asian Dreamland (you can hear a clip here)

  • Our Karadi tales CDs – two volumes full of “Indian rhymes for Indian kids” – great for dancing to.


  • Later, thanks to suggestions from @induviduality we had fun watching these video clips:



    Then @prathambooks suggested these (all of which will get your toes tapping!)








    Other activities that could work well with this book include:

  • Making your own handmade books. Bird and Little Bird has run several handmade book swaps for children in the past, and she write a lovely craft blog so do go and check her out!

  • The Book Chook also has some great ideas for making books with kids using digital resources. If your kids like comics The Book Chook lists some great comic making software and websites.

  • Enjoy this slideshow from the BBC all about Warli Art

  • Take a look and be inspired by Caroline’s interactive classroom displays on display at Learning Parade – she used them to help her class brainstorm imperative words for instructional writing

  • Do you have a favourite verb? What would you include in your illustrations for your favourite verb?


    Disclosure: I received my copy of Do! gratis from the publisher, Tara Books. This review, however, reflects my own and honest opinion.

    12 Responses

    1. Catherine

      What a gorgeous looking book. Your pillowcase looks wonderful too – well worth the extra time the batik process takes. Illustrations in children’s books can be so eye-opening about different techniques and styles of art.

    2. sandhya

      Sounds like a book right down our street. Especially since A is big on Warli art currently. Must look out for it. Have read about it earlier, but not seen it in stores. Maybe I could order from Tara books directly.

    3. sandhya

      As a teenager I had had the opportunity of volunteering with assisting at a medical camp in the very region of western India near Mumbai where the warlis live. We spent a whole 2 days with them, lived in their huts and ate the local food. Warli paintings are made in their houses casually on a regular basis, and no house/ hut is without their own creation. It is a beautiful and extremely simple form of art and it is great to see it being shared globally by enterprising publishing houses like Tara, Pratham and Tulika.

    4. Zoe

      Hi Sandhya, Yes it’s possible to order direct from Tara Books – https://www.tarabooks.com/books/books/young-readers/do/ and you’ll see an “Add to cart” icon. Sounds like your volunteering experience was really amazing. I have to admit I’d not heard of the Warli people before reading this book, but we’re now finding out more and more about them, their customs, and so on. It’s great!

      Hi Catherine,
      Yes it was definitely worth the extra time – it’s really lovely to have a piece of art from the kids that is a keepsake, that is practical and that isn’t put away in a box up in the loft, but is now part of our house.

    5. Melissa Taylor

      I love how you expanded this book – and convinced me to consider buying it. I probably wouldn’t have before I read your post. Thanks.

      • Zoe

        It’s quite a special book Melissa. Not like anything else you’ll see in the bookshop I’m sure!

    6. Marjorie (PaperTigers)

      What a fabulous post – your girls are so clever – and I think you’re going to have to make another pillowcase πŸ™‚ I love the book too. So much to pore over and you’re right, for it leaves the door right open for imaginative children.

    7. maggy, red ted art

      The book sounds marvellous and your craft is brilliant! I really want to give dying and working with glue/ wax a go… need the kids to grow up some more first!!!

      Maggy

    8. Becky

      I HAVE to get this but i dont think a review on y site could come close to this what a cretaive/imaginative rich and glorious review! I am inspired

    9. Zoe

      Thankyou Marjorie! Everyone who’s come to our house to play with the girls has seen the pillowcase and loves it too -might start making them as birthday presents!

      Maggy – do it for yourself! No need to wait till the kids are big enough πŸ™‚ If you check out the link to Sheela’s blog http://the-joy-of-my-life-and-other-things.blogspot.com/2011/02/kids-craft-paste-batik.html you’ll see she did a lovely birthday banner – I can just see you doing that for your kids!

      Thankyou Becky πŸ™‚ It’s hard not to be enthusiastic when we loved the book and activity so much. And that’s one of the things I love about blogging – I can write effusive reviews like this πŸ™‚

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