Manu Mixes Clay and Sunshine
Bulbul Sharma
Shanti Devi
age group: 
9+ yrs
Number of pages: 
Pratham Books
pottery livelihoods folk art
picture book, fiction, folkart

Part of a series of four books illustrated in the folk art traditions of India by Pratham, this book takes one on an informative journey on the art and craft of pottery. It has been brought out by Dastkari Haat Samiti, an organisation of Indian craftspeople and supported by UNESCO.

In this story of Manu, a potter's son, one learns about his life, his hopes, his aspirations, his family and his community. As, Manu learns to collect the clay from the river bed, mix it, make toys, mould pots and bake them in the kiln, one realises that to be a skilled potter is a long and tedious journey.

One also learns about the antecedents of the first potters based on a legend of Lord Viswakarma and the 'churning of the ocean of milk'.

Although being somewhat text heavy, daunting some young readers, the book will be a great tool in the hands of a teacher to discuss the subject with her students, linking it with their studies on ancient archeological digs and excavated pottery in various parts of the world.

An urban child will benefit from this insight on the life of a child in a rural potter's community and pottery as a craft, and as this book is also translated in many different Indian languages, hopefully, it will reach into the hands of a potter's child imparting a sense of pride in his work.

The illustrations done in the Madhubani style of painting by Shanti Devi, a tribal artist, add to the earthy charm of the story. Children will not only enjoy the simple lines of the illustrations but may want to try their hands at it, as well!

This series will encourage children to appreciate and enjoy the rich and varied cultural expressions of India's folk traditions.

Reviewed by Shamim Padamsee