A Bhil Story
Nina Sabnani
Sher Singh Bhil
age group: 
5+ yrs
Number of pages: 
tulika Books
folk art Bhil rooster
picture book (fiction)


The poor rooster can't crow because his throat is so parched. There is not a drop of water left in the village pond. The only hope is to find a badwa who can ask the gods to send rain. What does the badwa tell them to do? Go home and paint!

This is an origin story about Bhil art with stunning illustrations in the traditional pithora style. Their close interaction with the natural world finds an abiding expression in their art, called pithora. Each vibrant dot finds a place in the colourful patterns they create. Each page is a delight for any child as it has so much in it. It could keep a child engrossed for hours as s/he tries to decipher the images in it. I particularly liked the numerous patterns on the rooftops.

As days passed the trees turned green.
Water flowed into the fields.
The crops grew high and flowers bloomed.
As for the rooster, he crowed every day.
This particular scene is spread over two pages and one cannot help noticing every detail painted there culminating in the search for the rooster.

A Bhil Story was developed during a workshop at the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, supported by the Tata Centre for Technology and Design after which Nina and her team travelled with Sher Singh to his village. They recorded the story in the voices of the villagers for an animated film called Ek Bhil Ni Varta, from which the book evolved. The entire collaboration has created a stunning picture book that is humorous and dramatic.

Bhil Story is an excellent medium to introduce Pithora art to the children and gives a powerful message on the importance of conserving water. No creature is too small or insignificant; each one has a part to play in taking care of the environment.

Reviewed by Donna Reen