The Picture is the Story

In this edition of Book Nook, we turn to books that celebrate folk art forms. Books from Indian publisher Tulika in particular are beautifully produced using forms such as Bhil and Gond art.

Many of these books are meant for very young children (starting 6 years) but older readers will be inspired by the beauty of the art on the pages. In addition to celebrating folk art, the books are based on folk tales from the same areas. So effectively two traditions-story telling and art-are preserved in each book.

landAnd Land was born’ is a story based from the Bhilala tribe of Central India. The Bhilalas believe that when Earth was born there was only water. So the people beg their god to make land. The story is accompanied by illustrations based on the mud wall paintings of the Bhilalas.




gond‘The Magical Fish’ celebrates the art of the Gond people and is based on a Gond story of a woman who sets out to find the lost happiness of the world. The paintings on the books are similar to those that the Gond people paint on the walls of their homes.



bhil‘A Bhil Story’ recounts how the desperate people of a Bhil village (the Bhils are a tribe found in north-western India) set out looking for water after the village pond completely dries up. The wise man they approach tells them to go home and paint! Will it work? You will have to read the book to find out. The story is accompanied by illustrations in the traditional Bhil art style.

All books can be bought online and are available in several languages.

Books cost Rs.150-175 each