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Author and illustrator Tanvi Bhat talks about her newest book, Sharanya Speaks to Robots, the importance of STEM storybooks, and shares her advice for budding artists. Dive into our conversation with her!

Pratham Books: We love your new book! What are your thoughts on introducing STEM concepts through storybooks?
Tanvi Bhat: I think stories are a wonderful medium to introduce STEM concepts to children. The approach of making a STEM concept non-academic, and delivering it in fun bite-sized pieces to kids is a very effective way of introducing them to complex concepts. I think I would have benefited greatly from STEM storybooks when I was a child. I struggled with STEM subjects in school because the approach was very ‘exam-driven’ so personally, I see a great appeal in them.

Pratham Books: Tell us a little about your process of writing and illustrating Sharanya Speaks to Robots!
Tanvi Bhat: The story actually emerged while talking to my editor C.G Salamander. Initially, I was toying with making it a wordless picture book. But as we spoke more, I realized we needed words for this one. Plus I was really keen to play with all the languages Sharanya uses on Robu. The art emerged very organically. My usual process is that I start sketching the main characters and the universe around them falls into place. For this one, Sharanya’s character was a result of my very early sketches. I wanted to make her look like a fun, relatable character. She hardly has any words to express her personality so I tried making the art do that for her. In my head, her classmates all have distinct personalities, but that’s another story.

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