Excerpt from an interview at Junior Library
Malya Aditi International School on 20-11-2003
WHY DID YOU START WRITING BOOKS
I love kids. All over the world. My goal is to reach children
anywhere, anytime, rich or poor, black or white. I think kids
have no guile and are sincere and full of fun! I really love
WE JUST LOVE
YOUR BOOKS, ESPECIALLY LAZY BONES
AND RUMBLING GRUMBLING POT OF WORRIES.
Thank you very much. It makes me so happy that kids
love my books. I had written many versions of these
stories and they were rejected many times.
Finally I fine-tuned them and they were accepted. I
feel very strongly that if you believe in an idea, you
must keep at it until you succeed!
WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR WRITING?
I get inspiration from anywhere and anything. But most of
all, I love people. I think in a very humorous way and I think
young. Since I love kids so much, I know what excites them
and what makes them tick
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE AMOUNT
YOU TAKE FOR WRITING EACH BOOK?
If I get an idea, I jot it down. The next day, it may
seem very silly. But one idea leads to another and finally
we have the whole book. I start with a character and
build a plot around her to match her way of thinking.
All this could take a little more than a week for a
15 page book. It's the revisions after this that take
WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES THAT AN
AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE?
If you want to write, be observant of everyone around you
- animals, birds, trees, friends, relatives, folk you love,
folk you hate. Some day, they will all be a part of your stories
whether real or fantasies. An author should be willing to
rewrite her work many times until she and her target audience
is happy. If you're writing for kids, try your stories out
on them. Understand your target audience thoroughly. Love
them, if you want to reach them.
DO YOU LIKE A LOT OF COLOURS?
I am a professional artist and I love all colours. I
use them to my
advantage depending on the character I am creating.
DO YOU THINK A LIBRARIAN AND A WRITER
FOR CHILDREN HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON?
Both writer and librarian should appreciate
kids and be aware of what makes them tick. Children are easy
to guide if they love and respect you. If they are comfortable
in your presence, they will automatically be attracted to
what you do.
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Economic Times, Madras Plus
Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
Interview:Anupama V Chand
Creativity and children are synonymous…children’s author and illustrator Jeyanti Manokaran in conversation with ET Madras Plus
Anupama V Chand
She exudes a tranquil peace and charm, and draws children to her like bees to a honey pot! Children’s author and illustrator, Jeyanti Manokaran regaled adults and children alike with her quaint fairytale Ramesh and the Magic Mat, at the drawing and colouring exhibition for children held at Books Bytes ’N’ Beyond, the library and resource center at Sharanalaya Montessori School in Nungumbakkam last Saturday.
Jeyanti first stared her career in advertising, and subsequently worked for education of rural children, under Dr and Mrs Kurien, who introduced the Play-Way Method of education for children in India. Jeyanti has written several short, self-illustrated books for kids, including Saving Grandma’s Tree, based on the Chipko Movement, intended for older kids and A Doggone Good Story, the last one was completed for a client in the US, using him and his two sons to illustrate the story.
"I moved from advertising to writing and illustrating for kids, because I found my heart was set on doing something to enhance their creativity. They are so innocent and impressionable, and today the tools we have at our disposal, such as printing technology and multimedia, only mean that all we need to do is understand what children will love and relate to, and then imagine your character and subject. The sky is the limit, we can do so much," she smiles. She has throughout used the Madhubani and Warli traditional art forms to illustrate her books, and feels kids just love the intricate stick-like dancing forms of Warli art, which literally allows them to think visually. "A little bit of humour always helps with kids. The trick of course is to get them into the reading habit, which is fast disappearing under the onslaught of the multimedia revolution. Parents and teachers should just focus more on books, and provide a nice balance across the mélange of media options available," advises Jeyanti.
Having worked for both corporate and voluntary organisations, including Sherston Educational Software, Scholastic, ActionAid, Orient Longman, Macmillan, Hallmark Cards, The Azim Premji Foundation, and The Centre for Learning Resources, Jeyanti avers that today India has some excellent writers, although they don’t always find a good market, let alone the means to promote their works.
She lauded the initiative of events like the drawing and colouring exhibition, which gave children in the city a chance to compete with themselves, rather than each other, and discover the hidden artist within. "Every one of us can draw; you don’t need to have special classes for it. I always trained myself; even if you have started to write your name, then you are an artist to some extent," she asserts, with a twinkle.
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Saturday, April 18, 1992
Interview:By Uma Chandran
JEYANTHI:PENCHANT FOR PORTRAITS
It will be a rare treat for art lovers of Pune to witness a colourful
exhibition of paintings at the Ravindra Kala Kunj, this month end.
The artist is Jeyanthi Manokaran who specializes in portraits.
It is a dream come true for Jeyanthi to display her creations which
are painstakingly done to perfection. The theme - 'Tribals
of India', will give a glimpse into the colour, costume
and culture - the 3 Cs which always fascinated Jeyanthi. She firmly
believes that all these should be blended into portrayals of tribals.
Set against the black background that accentuates the vibrant costumes
and native expressions, the painting of tribals offered wide scope
and great satisfaction to her imagination and creative urge. An
indepth written study accompanies each portrait. These creations
gave her a chance to explore a new world- the world of aboriginies
A graduate in English Literature from Madras and a diploma in commercial
art from the New Delhi Polytechnic for Women, she says, is not sufficient
for a successful career. "It's all
the hard work and experience after college that counts," she
Even as a child of ten years, Jeyanthi displayed a keen interest
in drawing and painting. Thanks to her teacher who singled her out
and encouraged her and her parents who did everything possible for
her - today she has become a sensitive portrait artist.
Jeyanthi has won many laurels - but she is mainly interested in
illustrating for children. Recognising her flair for it, the Orient
Longman Publishers entrusted her with the task of illustrating books
for kinder-garten children. She has so far illustrated 14 books.
She has even written two books herself. 'Sunflowers
and Butterflies' (to be published) and 'I
Like the World' for nursery children. The Madras Advertising
Club in its fifth advertising art exhibition, awarded her the second
prize for the calendar done for Ashok Leyland. In 1990, for an all
India competition on children's books illustration, the Children's
Book Trust (CBT) gave her a certificate of merit.
Jeyanthi is at present, illustrating for the Centre for Learning
Resources (CLR), Pune. The Centre, with Zakiya Kurrien as the Jt.
Director, conducts inservice training for teachers and designs low
cost learning materials for schools and non-formal educational programmes
at the pre-primary and elementary levels.
The anthropology department at the University of Pune and the Jayakar
library of the University of Pune were of great help in collecting
information. "Simplicity is what
directed me to choose the topic to paint these coy and bashful tribal
women. They have naïve and native expressions marked in their
faces," Jeyanthi replies when asked.
Jeyanthi combines environmental education in her books. The exhibition
at Ravindra Kala Kunj from April 30 to May 2 is a landmark in her
career as a portrait artist. It is her maiden venture and is surely
going to be a treat for the art lovers/critics of Pune.
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The New Indian Express, Bangalore
Wednesday May 12, 1999
Interview: Jeyanthi Manokaran
By Anupama GS
JEYANTHI MANOKARAN IS A FREELANCE VISUALISER AND
ILLUSTRATOR WHO WORKS IN BANGALORE.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I do edutainment for kids, which includes writing, visualizing,
illustrating and animating, for both electronic publishing as well
as for print. By the time I was out of school, I was very sure that
my artistic talents, coupled with my ability to conceptualise, would
lead me into a career like advertising.
However, after two years in advertising, I moved on to working
in kids' edutainment, because my heart is in this kind of work.
WHY IS THERE A SUDDEN BOOM IN SELLING
PRODUCTS RELATED TO KIDS?
Anything to do with kids will sell, if made correctly. Kids are
big business and parents are willing to spend on them if they believe
in the quality of a product.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFICULTIES YOU FACE IN
You need to be very tuned in to how kids feel. Writing and visualizing
for kids is very hard work because you need to constantly test your
work out with the target audience. Children grow very fast and are
mentally very different every year. Besides age, to localize your
product successfully, you need to be very clear about the background
and environment of the children you are talking to, whether they
are rural or urban, etc. Working with and for kids is always tremendously
rewarding because they have no guile - you get to know exactly where
you stand and if your story works or not.
The disadvantages are that too many people are trying out stuff
for kids without really understanding them. You've got to be very
sure of yourself before critics tear you to pieces!
HOW IMPORTANT IS TRAINING TO STUDENTS
INTERESTED IN ENTERING THE PROFESSION? IS IT NECESSARY TO ENROLL
IN A COURSE? WHICH ARE THE INSTITUTIONS THAT OFFER COURSES?
Training is very important. After my BA in English Literature, I
did a three year course at the New Delhi Polytechnic for Women.
National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, offers a good mix too.
A five year course is not really necessary. Many artists are self
taught, which is a good thing, but a little guidance is useful in
the initial stages.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO STUDENTS ENTERING
Experiment. Spend a lot of time putting your finger into every pie
until you are very sure that this is what will give you the maximum
satisfaction. A lot of dedication and commitment is needed to become
a professional. It is always an uphill task, even when you have
made a name for yourself. Doing anything creative always gives endless
satisfaction and a sense of achievement if others also feel the
same way about your work.
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New Indian Express, June 1st 2005 –
Stories about the stories
Seena Menon takes a look at contemporary Indian writing for children.
…It is also possible to use new visuals and illustrations for the stories. Jeyanthi Manokaran, a freelancing author and illustrator with Scholastic India, uses folk art to illustrate her stories. She uses Madhubani and Warli art forms. She says,” Children appreciate forms like Warli. You can do all you want with these figures and forms.” For her, the most important thing in her stories is humour. Whether it be topics close to her heart like education and environment, all the stories are laced with humour. And aren’t we all looking for a few laughs when we open a book to read? Seeing black or colourful figures dancing across the pages running smoothly with the story adds to the delight of reading…
…Madhubani paintings originate from Bihar. It literally means ‘the forest of honey’ and are painted using vegetable dyes on handmade paper. Warli paintings originate from Maharashtra and are simple paintings on mud, charcoal and cowdung treated surfaces using rice paste for whites.
Jeyanthi Manokaran has worked closely with the tribal artistes and can paint these forms with great finesse. Her story ‘Wake Up Lazybones’ uses Warli paintings to tell the story of Bopu the Buffalo, who simply refuses to wake up…
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