This year feels marvellous already and we are thrilled to see the power of involving the community in our work. January and February flew by in a carnival of art at Pratham Books. Our lives were made twice as colourful with the arrival of bears, dragons, rainbows, rivers and all sorts of lovely things through the #6FrameStoryChallenge. It’s March now and we’re still heady from the visual rush thanks to our generous illustrator community. We received 68 visual stories (+ 8 more from the Illustrator Gurus) and can’t begin to tell you how pleased we are with the diversity in illustration styles. From watercolour and collage, to black and white sketches and digital art – we’ve got it all!
The core idea of the #6FrameStoryChallenge was to create a rich illustration bank for StoryWeaver – Pratham Books’ upcoming story publishing platform – which aims to be a digital repository of open licensed, multilingual children’s stories. A collaborative platform – this will enable users to read, translate, remix and create stories. It’s heartening to know that so many talented illustrators have donated their artwork to us and in turn contributed to our mission – ‘A Book in Every Child’s Hand’.
In the 1980s and 90s, the National Book Trust had published a few precious wordless picture books. Over the last decade, we haven’t seen as many of these being published in India and so the time seems ripe for this flood of beautiful wordless stories. Not only will these stories cut across language barriers, but they will also inspire young readers to weave their own stories around the illustrations, offering ample room for multiple re-imaginings and unique perspectives.
In fact, while choosing words for our ‘Word Wishlist’, we sat down to think about what we’d like to see more of in our children’s books: ‘Fish rain’ and ‘Another Planet’ were added to encourage whimsy; ‘Tree-planting man’ and ‘Vulture’ from the environmental point of view; ‘Idli’ and ‘Holi’ for a touch of Indianness, etc. But nothing had prepared us for the incredible way in these words emerged after being tossed, blended and garnished in the illustrator’s imaginative mind. Evidently, illustrators across the country have been waiting for an opportunity to tell their own stories and the result has been nothing short of mind-blowing. Can you believe that we had entries pouring in till the very last second before the contest closed? Ah, more such good times to come!
You can’t imagine our excitement at finally being able to reveal the winners of the #6FrameStoryChallenge. We are delighted to declare our top three favourite entries. Congrats Archana Sreenivasan, Niloufer Wadia and Jithin Jacob! Your 6-frame stories were selected by our Illustrator Gurus from an eclectic and amazing collection of visual narratives, and you have every reason to feel proud. The entries were judged mainly based on the quality of illustrations and the effectiveness of their sequential narratives. All three stories were also massive hits on social media and you can see why.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of an underwater birthday party, Archana Sreenivasan’s shrewd idli and poor ol’ cactus left us in a fit of giggles. Niloufer Wadia’s juggling granny inspired so many comments (from fellow illustrators) such as, “This is brilliant!” and “I want this book!” And not only can Jithin Jacob make crying babies smile, he can also create adorable characters as you may have noticed in his memorable 6-frame story. Winners, we really hope that this experience has inspired you to illustrate many such amazing children’s stories. As promised, we will be getting awesome authors Natasha Sharma, Mala Kumar and Manisha Chaudhry to weave text around these winning illustrations and these will be published on StoryWeaver. So do watch out for the launch of StoryWeaver, our plunge into the deep waters of digital!
And to end this post on a bright and optimistic note: all the illustrations (450+) created for the #6FrameStoryChallenge will be licensed under CC-BY
(one of the most open Creative Commons Licenses) and will be available soon on StoryWeaver. And for this, we must thank the participants of the #6FrameStoryChallenge who spent time and effort bringing these enchanting stories to life.
You can view all the stories and illustrator interviews here
or head over to the collection of stories
on our Scribd account.
(Note: Although Rajiv Eipe was one of our Illustrator Gurus, he wasn’t part of the selection process as his wife happened to be one of the participants of the #6FrameStoryChallenge.)
If you’ve been following the #6FrameStoryChallenge and would like to tell us what you think of it, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/prathambooks.