Subscribe to SLJ
Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Jump Start II

The second day of JS began with an illustrators panel. Several of the featured artists were Gonds — tribal hill people (here is brief background information; and here are some examples of their art The path from local wall painting to creating paintings and illustration went through one man, and while he is tragically no longer living (why is another story for another day) but several artists who had worked with him were there to talk about the books for young readers they have created. We bought the book they were talking about and it is fascinating — a French publisher purchased French rights as we were standing there and I hope it gets picked up in America.

One message of this trip was that folk arts are still alive in India — though in a particular way. That is, on the one hand, modernizing India is a threat to older ways of living, and from household objects to wall paintings, anything made within the culture and economy of the past is in danger. On the other hand, designers, teachers, museum curators, NGOs from throughout the world are out in the villages working with the folk artists, bringing some form of their work to the world — as in the presence of the Gond artists at JS. As in everything in India it is a moment of peril and possibility in just about equal doses.

The same might be said about the entire world of librarianship for children — we heard of libraries that are much more concerned to keep books out of the hands of children (thus not damaged, not lost) then to engage young people. Yet we also saw signs of new kinds of libraries springing up.

I left the conference ablaze with ideas, which is just about the ideal outcome for a meeting — many business cards exchanged — Marina and I went to meet a designer in his very cool studio the next day — many ideas bruited about, many possibilities to consider. And a one day delay due to Irene.


  1. Marc, I really enjoyed your Jump Start posts–and the reflections on Lodhi Gardens. I grew up in Delhi, visit India annually, and work with a couple of publishers there. You’re absolutely right about the connected histories that no one knows about–how apple cultivation came to India, for example, is in part a story connected to the cofounder (of Quaker heritage) of a major American elevator company! Turn any historical story corner and there are more connections. I’d love to talk to you some more when you feel ready for that conversation.

  2. Marc Aronson says:

    Uma: I was just talking about you with Leda, we need to compare notes soon.