Most of the stuff we adored as kids is not very accessible now. But both of us are avid collectors of anything to do with children’s literature... and thought we’d talk about some of them.Ravishankar Raval (1892-1977), a Gujarati artist and founder of a path-breaking Gujarati magazine for teenagers called Kumar, was a source of inspiration in my childhood. I often tried to copy his sketches – without much success, of course. Here are some pen and ink illustrations from a Gujarati translation of Pinocchio. (Titled Bawalana Parakramo, translated by Hansa Mehta in 1939.)
What is fascinating about these illustrations is that they maintained the slightly dark tone of the story and still managed to make the characters look like they had walked out of a Gujarati story – and not a European one. I remember looking at the drawings for hours and trying to imagine what the story was about much before I could read Gujarati. Note the very Gujju-looking Fairy Godmother and Geppetto (called Ranchhod here!).
If you’d like to see more of Raval’s work, it’s on this site. Slightly archaic and not too surf-friendly, but still wonderful art!