Beastly Tales from Here and There.

Published back in 1991, Vikram Seth‘s grinning collection of animal fable-poems, Beastly Tales from Here and There, was first illustrated by Ravi Shankar (whose pompous Hindustani fatfrog and sleek celebrity hare are most unforgettable). Now it has been reprinted by Puffin as a special big colourful book for kids, which I got to illustrate.


Vikram Seth’s cleverly crafted poems retell the old fables with a charming, slightly dark and very revealing perspective on things that happen to most of us. A lot of love and detail and numerous eraser rubbings were poured  into the book’s illustrations, over a large part of last year. The book was released on a pretty purple and white evening at Penguin’s Spring Festival this March, with an enthralling series of readings by the author.


So, after a long refreshing cup of tea, the tragopan and the elephant pulled out some of the illustrations that I think, define this edition of the book best of all. First – of course, the tea scene – tea for decision-making, for procrastination, for calming down ruffled feathers, for just being.


And then, the first illustration done for the book – where the hare and her psychedelic mushroom minefield decided what the other animals and people in the book were going to do. The hare is the most important one, after all.


Then there was Grandpa Monkay, him of the levitating mangoes – who the tragopan and the elephant would have gone to for help if only they could bear to disturb him, really. The elephant sighed, drank some more tea and tried to talk sense in the showdown at Bingle Valley.


There were the shy black bears who crept out of the mists – slightly costumed, silent guardians who made sure everything would be alright in the end.



12 Comments to “Beastly Tales from Here and There.”

  1. Hey Prabha, super neat stuff!
    i love the features of the elephant! the compositions and treatment real cool . . keep them comin . . .

  2. wow. These took my breath away. Excellent work as always!

  3. thanks pulak, chandan, sohan! 🙂

  4. I’m very happy to see your illustrations biiiig over here. Absolutely lovely Prabhs. Love the fancy signature too.
    Still thinking of your sketchbook. I should have just swallowed it.

  5. Just super! I love that the illustrations border on slight chinese painting look with the red signature and background brush strokes! Great reinvention of a classic style 🙂

  6. i love this style – works so well

  7. Fantastic Prabha! Bought it for my son ..but cant let go of it! Your great illustrations reminded me of the great Soviet children books that suddenly started appearing in Bangalore in mid-80s…

    • Thanks, Surya! I’m glad you liked the illustrations 🙂 I love those old children’s books too – I have a few – I wish they were still as easily available!

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