Takloo: The Little Salt Seller by Radhika Bapat, illustrated by Poonam Athalye
Meet Takloo who lives in Anjarle, “a small village in the far, far west of India,” not too far south of Mumbai. “If you went further west, you would be a fish in the ocean.” Takloo lives with his mother and father, and his beloved dog Moti, surrounded by trees, squirrels, and people who are “different shades of brown: dark and light brown.”
One day, his father brings home a bag of salt so enormous that his mother angrily shouts that their small house has no room for such an oversized burden. Takloo, at 5, who is “naughty but … also very smart,” has a most ingenious idea. With the help of the nearby potter and the a pot that was “just the right size,” clever Takloo proves his early entrepreneurial talents and makes his parents “very proud of their smart little boy!”
The book is quite the learning opportunity: author Radhika Bapat is a clinical psychologist well versed in using storytelling as a teaching tool; artist Poonam Athalye’s whimsical illustrations are gentle, subtle lessons in ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, not to mention a celebration of gorgeously colorful palettes. As effective as the story is, before it even begins, you’re presented with a full page of “How should you use this book?” suggestions to enhance or even disregard the narrative. Clever Takloo, clever publisher, too.
That publisher is Pratham Books, a not-for-profit organization based in India, with a mission to put “a book in every child’s hand.” They publish in 11 languages, offer over 1800 titles (thus far), most of which cost less than 35 Indian rupees. That’s just over 50 cents (!) in U.S. dollars. Their story cards go as low as 4 INR – less than a dime! That’s impressive access to their “brand of story books as Indian as the children who read them.” And thanks to our global markets, their books are available all over the world, which is why Pratham Books is getting the international recognition they deserve: Last month, they were cited by the Library of Congress Literacy Awards 2014, commended “For Its Effective Implementation of Best Practices in Literacy and Reading Promotion.”
As part of their “Best Practices,” Pratham Books chose Takloo for their “One Day – One Story” campaign for International Literacy Day: more than 1300 storytellers conducted 1500 storytelling sessions in September. You can get a glimpse of what happened by visiting here. The stories are still coming in … while new ones keep multiplying, too. Pratham Books’ best practices indeed!