The story of artist SH Raza, who passed away this year at the age of 94, is fairly well-chronicled. If you were to tell a child about this stalwart of modern Indian art, how would you go about it? Ritu Khoda and Vanita Pai show the way in Raza’s Bindu, one of the finest children’s non-fiction books in recent times. The dot — that life-affirming source of all creativity — is foregrounded in this book that tells young readers about a restless child who finds his life transformed when his primary school teacher asks him to stare at a dot to keep his attention from flagging. Lean on biographical details, the book relies on some of Raza’s iconic artwork, reproduced thanks to the generosity of Vadehra Art Gallery and Art Alive Gallery, to talk about his art.
One of the biggest draws of the book is the liberal sprinkling of art exercises that encourages readers to interpret the bindu in their own way — sticker art, drawing and colouring worksheets with easy-to-follow instructions and open-ended questions. Khoda and Pai have set the bar high with this interactive book. If there is any nitpicking to be done, it has to be that the artist’s name is mispelt in the blurb.