Snuggling with Picture Books
Parshathy. J. Nath interviews Richa Jha about her website that reviews picture books.
Her passion for picture books began when she started reading out stories to her children. Richa Jha, an Indian author and publisher, who is based in Nigeria, says how she leaves no picture book unturned!
Richa also spent a few years working with a publishing house for picture books and, inevitably, she decided to author one too. But she was unhappy with the book when it came out. “I could see many shortcomings,” she admits. So, she decided to start a website in which she would not only review picture books for others like her but would also try and list out the possible reasons that made a picture book a huge hit with the kids, or not. And so, snugglewithpicturebooks.com, a website that reviews picture books from all over the world, came into being in June last year. Richa speaks of the snuggle-quotient of a picture book. “There are certain set parameters that make a picture book good. It should be the kind that could be read again and again, it should have humour and visual appeal,” explains Richa. These are the qualities she keeps in mind before she gives her final rating on the book out of 10. Another parameter is, “Thank God, it is not moral science!” In her website, she provides a one-line synopsis of the story and then the detailed review along with other information such as the name of the publisher, author and illustrator, and the price. The website also provides links to the authors and their respective sites.
Richa explains the difference between illustrated books and picture books. “They are based on two different concepts altogether. In illustrated works, pictures support the narrative, but in picture books images constitute the narrative. Half of the story is told through pictures.” That is why a picture book should always be read to children, she says. “So, when you read it to the child, you can ask him to guess what will happen next before you show him the picture.”