I love working on commissions. It throws me out of my comfort zone. It is not something that I would instinctively do. To work with combining diverse elements/ a limited set of pre-defined colours and motifs is not easy. And as always every element on the kettle has meaning and is special to both the giver and the recipient. When it all comes together and the client smiles… it is so worth it.
This kettle is a gift from author Roopa to her editor Vatsala on the occasion of the launch of the eighth and final book of the Taranauts.
Taranauts is India’s first fantasy-adventure series for children in English. The eight-part series, aimed primarily at the 8-12 age group, is written by Roopa Pai and published by Hachette India Children’s Books. The first book of the series – The Quest For The Shyn Emeralds – hit bookstores in the first week of December 2009. The eighth and final book – The Magic of the Dazl Corals – is slated for release on 20th July 2013.
The turtles are not actually in the book at all. They have been painted because Vatsala has a thing for them. For me? I just loved painting them for a kettle that talks of mythical creatures, different worlds with multiple stars. And because it made me think of ‘Turtles all the way down..’
Taranauts liberally references Indian mythology, Indian classical and pop culture, and contemporary Indian history and society, although no knowledge of any of these is necessary to understand and enjoy the story.
It also uses plenty of ‘portmanteau wordplay’, combining English and Indian languages, or two different Indian languages, to create words in Taratongue, the language of Mithya.
The main protagonists – the Taranauts – tackle four challenges (crack four riddles) in each book. The challenges are a mix of word, numerical, memory, logic, and visual puzzles, in combination with physical, mental and emotional challenges.
Taranauts combines many genres, including fantasy, adventure and sci-fi, with elements of mystery and satire. I love that the characters are not portrayed as intrinsically good or evil, but as having made the right – or wrong – choices.
The entire series has been illustrated by the very talented Priya Kurian. My challenge was to keep the Taranuats flavour without actually copying her illustrations. Hard It was!