Published: 21st April 2021
Missing first-day-of-school feels? This wordless book will legit bring them back to you
One of Bengaluru-based illustrator Sunaina Coelho's last projects was a short film for UNICEF. And now, she has a new book coming out sans words. This is why you should definitely check it out too
It certainly helped matters for Sunaina Coelho that around the time of her son Orhan's first day at school, she was struck by the idea of the book Ikru's First Day of School. But to limit the inspiration behind her first wordless book to this experience alone would be a disservice because the book is enriched by so many of her observations. For instance, the student who has a handkerchief pinned to his shirt as an SOS for his runny nose or the extra enthu artist who adds more paint to the paper than it can hold. As you leaf through this book, you'll soon realise that words would have been futile anyway as the illustrations say it all.
"Usually, I am given a script written by a famous author and I illustrate for that. But this time, it was a little scary for me because I was on my own. I had to write down a script that I then translated into illustrations," says Sunaina who has illustrated for author Jerry Pinto's book Tickle Me, Don't Tickle Me, Padmaparna Ghosh's Up World, Down World and so many more. But you'll be happy to know that now that the 35-year-old is out with this wordless story published by Pratham Books, she is certainly ready to take on more.
Sunaina | (Pic: Sunaina Coelho)
While the script was ready in a month or two, the book itself was in the works for about eight months, back in 2019. The pandemic placed a brief pause on the publishing of the book but now that it is out, Sunaina, who grew up in New Delhi and is currently based out of Bengaluru, is delighted. And we are revelling in all the details that the book has to offer. Ikru is very excited to attend school as he pulls his mother towards it, but when he suddenly comes face-to-face with his teacher, he shies away. All his gregariousness melts away and it is other students who draw him out. Sounds like a familiar feeling, doesn't it? "That's exactly how my son was, so social and bubbly, but when he approached the school, he grew quiet. In fact, it was others who had to draw him out," she says, laughing.
As far as observations go, on her son's first day of school, Sunaina and the other parents weren't allowed to participate but they got to sit in and observe the class. She also got to attend and observe an art class. These scenes play out in the book as well. "Sometimes, it's when you are looking for things that one becomes more observational. Also, it's always much nicer to just go out there and witness things before you narrate them," says the alumna of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
From the book | (Pic: Sunaina Coelho)
What's important to mention is that the kids in the book look just like the kids we see at any school. They have the same fears that we do when we are around new people, the same excitement when we hear a story that captivates us, mind and heart, and though we are excited to be in someplace new, we are just as happy to go back home after a long day — it's all these elements from the book that connect with us. And that's why the book works. Words or no words, it still speaks volumes.