Tara Books and Simms Taback

Tara Books is an independent publisher in South India. You know how you find things and then re-find them? I remember reading about this publisher a few years ago, and then today I was admiring this octopus image and it led me back to Tara Books.


Octopus from Waterlife

This octopus is in BibliOdyssey’s Flickr stream. The BibliOdyssey blog is a treasure trove of ephemera and digitized visual delights from antiquity. The octopus is from one of Tara’s books called Waterlife and this post describes both Waterlife and I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tale. Both look absolutely wonderful, the kind of folk art books that appeal to children and make their parents (and librarians!) linger.

From Tara’s site, here is an article about Waterlife: Waterlife: A Fluid Tradition.


Waterlife by Rambharos Jha

The author, Rambharos Jha: “….Tara showed me various aquatic animals on the computer, animals I had never seen in nature such as whales and lobsters.  They asked me how I would draw them.  I said I would draw them as I draw everything else:  by making it part of my imagination.”

Tara made a video of the other book I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail and it is a lovely look at a book I can’t wait to order for my library:


Click to watch on youtube

I could see helping students make their own versions. We’d start with a short poem, then storyboard the placement of words, pictures and cut-outs. What would it be like to approach this as an ebook template? Perhaps 5th graders could plan for links and reveals?

  I couldn’t help but remember that Simms Taback died this year. His book Joseph Had a Little Overcoat won the Caldecott Medal in 1977 and it takes a Yiddish folk song and makes it into a richly detailed story of thrift and community. Children love the holes in the pages that get smaller as each coat remnant is cut. And the message, “You can always make something out of nothing!” is a good one.

My favorite video made from his book is this one by Anya Medvid, an award-winning graphic designer:

Video by Anya Medvid


One response to “Tara Books and Simms Taback

  1. I love the Joseph book, too. Another one with a similar theme is: Something from Nothing. Great illustrations. Kids could compare both stories: plot, character, pictures.

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