About

I use choice words and wacky illustrations, to reach kids through fiction and non-fiction. My unique concepts have won awards. In Kidlit, my work spans corporate and voluntary organizations, print and multimedia, advertising and edutainment.

To name a few – Sherston Educational Software UK, Scholastic India, Madhyam, ActionAid, Hallmark Cards, The Azim Premji Foundation, The Centre for Learning Resources and Nextwave Multimedia (P) Ltd. I have been published by Highlights Magazine USA., Scholastic India, Orient Longman, Pratham Books, The National Book Trust and Tulika Books.

‘When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.Paulo Coelho


Awards

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Asia Pacific
UNESCO
Noma
Concours
Award
  • Encouragement Prize awarded for the use of Indian folk art in Children’s Picture Book Illustration by the Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO, the Noma Concours at Japan, in 1992.
  • Scholarships for Writers Workshops at Pennsylvania awarded by Highlights Foundation in 2005 and 2009.
  • Maya Surjana Award for the best Journal in the NGO section in 2000 – I designed and illustrated this Folk Art journal for Madhyam.
  • Certificate of Merit awarded by the Children’s Book Trust, India for illustration of children’s books – 1990.
  • Second Prize at the 5th Advertising Art Exhibition, 1982, Chennai, for illustrating a calendar for Ashok Leyland depicting vintage commercial vehicles in their cultural context.

Press Reports

Economic Times, Madras Plus
Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

Child’s Play

Brilliant Strokes

(An excerpt)

Creativity and children are synonymous…children’s author and illustrator Jeyanthi Manokaran in conversation with ET Madras Plus.

by 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, Jeyanthi 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.

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. If you can write your name, then you are an artist,’ she asserts, with a twinkle.


New Indian Express, June 1st 2005 –

School Magazine

Stories about the stories

Seena Menon takes a look at contemporary Indian writing for children.

(An excerpt)

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…


The New Indian Express, Bangalore
Wednesday May 12, 1999

Interview: Jeyanthi Manokaran
By Anupama GS

(an excerpt)

Jeyanthi Manokaran is a freelance visualiser and illustrator who works in Bangalore.

Why did you choose this profession?
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. Parents are willing to spend on them if they believe in the quality of a product.

What are the difficulties you face in your profession?
You need to be very tuned in to how kids feel. Writing and visualizing for kids is very hard work. You need to constantly test your work out with the target audience. Children grow fast and are mentally quite different every year. To localize your product successfully, you need to be clear about the background and environment of the children you are talking to, whether they are rural or urban, etc. Working with kids is tremendously rewarding. They have no guile – you get to know exactly where you stand and if your story works or not.

The disadvantages are that you’ve got to be 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 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 the profession?
Experiment. Spend a lot of time putting your finger into every pie until you are sure that this is what will give you maximum satisfaction. Dedication and commitment is needed to become a professional. Doing anything creative always gives endless satisfaction.


Maharashtra Herald
Saturday, April 18, 1992

(An excerpt)

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 a 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 aborigines the Adivasis.

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 kindergarten children. She has so far illustrated 14 books.

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,’ says Jeyanthi.

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.