Kochi: The Big Little Book Award (BLBA) presented by Tata Trusts’ Parag initiative on Thursday announced Prof. S. Sivadas and Deepa Balsavar as winners for their significant contribution to children’s literature in the Indian language(s). Driven with a purpose to ensure every child experiences the joys of reading and reading good children’s books, BLBA serves as a platform connecting young readers, parents, schools, and publishers with talented authors and illustrators.
This year marked the sixth edition of the BLBA and received 490 entries during the nomination period from May to June 2021. Malayalam was the chosen language this year for the author category, while the illustration category accepted nominations in any language. Winners were selected for their contribution to Indian children’s literature with stories that talk to young readers about who they are and help them navigate a multicultural and multilingual environment.
Winner from the author category, Prof. S. Sivadas based out of Kottayam, has over two hundred books to his name. Inspired by his childhood memories, love for nature, and deep commitment to science, his work has stood out significantly in the children’s literature canon in Malayalam. “I am very happy to receive the Big Little Book Award by the Parag Initiative of Tata Trusts. I value the tradition of Tata Group and the wonderful work done by Parag and so feel proud to be associated with it, in this way. This I believe, is a new beginning in my career as a children’s writer and communicator,” Prof. S. Sivadas said.
Speaking about the winning author, the jury comprising of Greystroke, Dr. M. M Basheer, Paul Zacharia, Sherylene Rafeeque and Suneetha Balakrishnan, collectively were of the opinion that “S. Sivadas exemplifies a rare commitment to both the art and craft of writing for children. This is evident in the sheer range of genres and subjects he has covered in his body of work spanning over the last 50 years. He stands tall as a pioneer of scientific knowledge in children’s literature.”
Mumbai-born artist Deepa Balsavar, winner in the illustrator category, grew up loving animals, books and drawing. She wanted to become a vet but went to the arts college instead. She decided that if she couldn’t treat animals, she would write and draw stories about them, and about people and the world. Deepa adds, “To make books for children is both a privilege and a huge responsibility. This award gives me courage and hope to continue doing what I do. When we get children to read and think, we give them the tools to take charge of their lives and change their worlds.”
“Deepa’s illustrations represent diversity, compassion and sensitivity without losing the playfulness and charm that appeal to children and adults effortlessly. Her eye for detail is remarkable, and the scope and scale astonishing. Her delicate balance between colour, image and expression is outstanding, and has been a hallmark of all her works,” was the collective statement of the jury that comprise Aashti Mudnani, Proiti Roy, Rani Dharker, Sunandini Banerjee and Thejaswi Shivanan.
According to Amrita Patwardhan, Head, Education, Tata Trusts, “Original, engaging, quality children’s literature in Indian languages is critical for developing a reading culture and meeting educational goals. The 6th edition of Big Little Book Award for authors and illustrators is our way to celebrate outstanding contributions by committed artists who have made a difference to this important sector.”
Patwardhan congratulated the winners and said she was looking forward to wider dissemination of their works.