Following My Paintbrush with Tara Books

I am just a tiny bit in love with Tara Books. I like to look through their catalogue and dream about having a Tara Books-case, specifically for their books. It’s a good job I have the PDF catalogue and not a paper copy – it gets a bit dribbly!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tara Books, they are an independent co-operative publisher of picture books – for children and adults. Based in Chennai, South India they have been running for 20 years and have a passion for beautiful books that mean something. Tara Books is an ethical collective full of passion and integrity and dedication to design and the artistic communities of India. They excite me! I believe in them! Their books are beautiful, diverse, feminist, inclusive, inspiring…. I could go on! Instead I’ll quote their catalogue:

“We are unabashedly interested in the form of the book. We are also keen to explore the quirky pleasures of reading, and to genuinely change the perspectives from which stories are told. We collaborate with unusual talent from unlikely places – often bringing artists and art traditions into the form of the book for the first time. In doing so, we ensure that our books reflect the richness and breadth of India in a very specific way.”
What’s not to love??

It feels refreshing and exciting to come across a publisher that believes so strongly in the form of the book and in creating art with and within its community. I love that they make genuinely handmade books, they use handmade paper and non toxic inks and that any misprinted books are recycled into notebooks called Flukebooks (which will be top of my birthday list this year!). They are “nurturing the physical form of the book in an age that is busy writing its obituary.” Beautiful!

Tara Books are passionate about indigenous tribal and folk art in India and work closely with varied communities to give these artists a voice and a platform to shine from.

Following My Paintbrush is the story of Dulari Devi, a domestic helper who, while working in an artist’s house, discovered her creativity and learned to paint in the Mithila style of folk painting. In the book, Dulari tells her own story and illustrates it with her paintings. The text is based on her own oral narrative and is therefore hugely accessible, immediately drawing the reader in.


Dulari tells the story of her childhood, her work and the seeds of her creativity. She tells of going to work at a new house and finding that it belonged to an artist who agreed to teach her to paint. Dulari had to start at the very beginning as she had never been to school or learnt how to hold a pencil or paintbrush. But she worked hard and her passion for her art shines through as she follows her paintbrush and paints her life. I love that the paintings develop subtly from re-imagining her childhood to painting herself as an artist in her own pictures. Following My Paintbrush is immediate and engaging and a wonderfully positive story about following your dreams – without a prince or a fortune in sight.

A beautiful way to inspire children and introduce them to art from other cultures, Following My Paintbrush is stunning.

Source: kindly sent for review by Tara Books


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