January 20, 2014

Snuggle With Picture Books: Richa Jha

By Preksha Sharma

Richa Jha is a writer and editor of children’s picture books; but her journey towards being a picture books publisher and owning an imprint is an incredible story in itself. She calls her website Snuggle With Picture Books, a natural extension of her ‘insane love for picture books’, which further extends into an imprint with the same name that she recently launched with two books authored by her – The Susu Pals (illustrated by Alicia Souza) and The Unboy Boy (illustrated by Gautam Benegal). While her imprint is based in India, Jha works from Nigeria. “My neighbours here in Lagos have no clue what I keep doing sitting hunched up before my computer all day,” she says.

Jha says that a bulk of what she reads came from the British Council libraries at Mumbai, Dhaka and Delhi, and now the library at her kids’ school. And while she says that she is immune to her kids’ constant refrain of ‘Grow up, Mamma!’, both her kids also share her love for picture books. “Even after all these years, we still pretty much don’t kiss our good nights without first snuggling with a picture book that I now usually bring home from school,” she says. We spoke to Jha about her experiences as a publisher, her passion for picture books and her favourites. Read on:


Richa jha


How and when did your affair with the picture books start? 

It started about twelve and a half years ago, when I picked up the first set of picture books for my son, then aged 4 months, at the annual Strand Book Fair in Bombay. Somehow, the act of handpicking a few for my child, then rushing home to start reading aloud to him, and seeing him grab one and instantly begin munching on them is what got me all crazed up!  We (my daughter too, who was born a few years later) haven’t stopped collecting, reading, devouring them since. The more I read, the more I am convinced that no other genre of books is a better reflection of the world within each of us, and those around us. Most people make the mistake of seeing them only as books for children, when actually these are the only books that defy any age categorizations. And these are the only set of books that both kids and adults can read and share together. There’s just so much you can explore with your child with a well-made picture book in hand.

Picture books still face the problem of lower acceptance in retail. How was your experience? 

Mine has been a surprisingly pleasant and positive one so far. I am not sure how much of that acceptability on the retailers’ front will finally translate into parents actually buying them, but the initial response from the book stores has been both encouraging and heartening. If I must name the one store that has overwhelmed me with their unconditional love for these books, it’s been Mumbai’s Kahani Tree.

Most of the picture books in India, even in the past, have been text heavy. What is your approach and opinion towards the ratio of text and visuals? 

We’ve seen that trend changing gradually lately, and indeed, over the last three four years, we’ve had some truly wonderful picture books come out in India which have been quite low on word count. If you ask me, the fewer the words, the more scope we leave for the visuals to weave their own narrative, the more surprises we are able to pack on the pages, and the more hidden treasures we leave for the child to uncover upon each new reading. The result is a more engaging picture book and a more satisfying and complete reading experience. I’d be happiest with a 400 word word-count for a 32 pager. In the West, the trend is moving towards a 200-250 range, but that needs exceptional story-telling skills!




You have taken a plunge during the times when it is becoming increasingly hard for publishing houses to sustain. What made it inevitable for you to have your own imprint?

Madness knows and sees no reason! I think I just HAD to. You know, it was this insuppressible urge to create picture books, the kind my kids and I’ve been in love with all these years. And because I don’t buy jewellery or eat out much (ha!), I had saved up some money which I decided to finally use up on something that I so passionately believe in. I am not in it to be the next big name in the kiddy-book industry in India. I am creating these books so that the few who read it go back to it again and again with the same delight with which my kids and I have gone (and continue to go) to so many picture books.

But yes, as you rightly pointed out, sustainability is an issue. Picture books, in particular, appear more unsustainable than others because of the double whammy of the huge costs involved in creating them and very few takers. So yes, there is a genuine problem in India where most parents are not willing to look beyond books that inform and educate (and now, increasingly, the apps); picture books don’t appeal to most because they see very little value for money in them. But I see that as an exciting challenge. I am operating on two simple beliefs –  that if I am enjoying the process of creating a picture book, there will most certainly be a few mad caps like me in this country who’ll enjoy snuggling with it; and more importantly, that it is only by creating more and more interesting ones collectively as a unified force in the Indian market that we will get more and more parents to see the invaluable role picture books can play in a child’s formative years.

Who is your favourite picture books’ artist?

 With so many picture books that I am in love with, it’s next to impossible to pick one favourite artist! But if I must name one, my latest crush is on Gris Grimly.

Which picture books have you read as a kid?

Mostly the absolutely gorgeously produced Russian ones in English. This was during the late 70s and early 80s. Of course, they used to be quite text heavy, but they were the best that was available to us. My favourite then was Maxim the Cat. And I had a Snow White and a Sleeping Beauty with illustrations so magical that I still go back to the two books at times!

anonymizer-odnoklassniki.ru анонимайзер зайти в одноклассники таким Анонимайзер-одноклассники.ру

авторегистратор в воронежеlovejanetphoto.com быстрые кредиты бизнесуперехват трафика в локальной сетикак взломать вк без программскачать бота для тюряги вконтактеskachat vzlom odnoklassniki besplatno 2014накрутка вконтакте онлайн

Share Button
Kyoorius is a bi-monthly print magazine on visual communications. Subscribe here. For buying a single copy (or any of the previous issues), write to us at sales@kyoorius.com.  You can order the issue from Tadpole, get the digital copy from Magzter and also buy it from bookstores near you. For any feedback on the magazine or to submit your work, do drop in a mail to us at editor@kyoorius.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

TAGS , , ,

Related Posts

Kyoorius Designyatra 2016: “Why am I here?”. 29 Sept – 01 Oct. Fairmont, Jaipur.

Melt, in the heat of this moment: #zeemelt returns.

10 days left to submit work to Kyoorius Design Awards 2016

Kyoorius Creative Awards Night 2016: Early Man Film and Ogilvy & Mather take home the Black

1 Comment

  1. Richa Jha



    A big thank you to you, Preksha, and to the entire Kyoorius team for this fun interview! I loved your questions, Preksha, and I was amazed at how quickly you managed to turn it around into a snazzy little piece that I’m can’t stop gloating over! :)
    Keep up the awesome work, Kyoorius!

Leave a Reply


Flickr Photos

View More Photos →

Twitter @kyoorius

  1. Kyoorius
    Kyoorius: Congratulations Young Blood! Your Time Is Now! #KyooriusYoungBloodAwards Take a look at the In-Book Nominees:… https://t.co/Mp59fLPSuH

  2. Kyoorius
    Kyoorius: #KDY18 Delegates! Thank you for the overwhelming response for #Workshops. All 8 workshops are sold out! Registered… https://t.co/ve4CAJYqD7

  3. Kyoorius