Commitment, courage, perseverance and passion is what runs through four pioneering women scientists of the 20th century vividly brought to life in a four-box set to inspire and encourage young children to pursue their dreams.
“I believe in the power of biographies to inspire and uplift. There is a great lack of inspirational biographies of South Asian women in the children’s segment and I feel that the stories of these pioneering women are so powerful that they must be shared with children, particularly girls, all over the world,” says Singapore-based Chitwan Mittal, the Founder and Editorial Director of independent publishing house AdiDev Press of its “Women In Science” set, its third offering this year, bringing to nine the number of books released in 2022.
The simple text, written in verse by award-winning poet Pervin Saket and vividly brought to life by four talented illustrators is the perfect way to introduce little readers to the big values that the four women – a physicist, a doctor, an oceanographer and a botanist – featured in the “Learning TO BE” series personify.
“Commitment With Bibha Chowdhury” (1913-91) is the story of a physicist who received no fame or glory but pledged her life to her work.
The only girl in her class to have mastered physics, Chowdhury and her mentor D.M. Bose discovered a particle called “meson” but World War II interrupted her work. A few years later, British physicist C.F. Powell made the same discovery and while he won the Nobel Prize, Chowdhury missed her chance at fame.
Unfazed, she moved to Manchester and obtained a PhD on cosmic rays and became the first woman fellow to join the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research run by Homi J. Bhabha, the founder of India’s atomic energy programme. Today, there’s a star named “Bibha” that lights our path.
“Love your work like Bibha and stay committed till it’s done,” is the message of the book, which has been illustrated by Sahitya Rani, who, through her diverse body of work, aims to contribute to relevant, representative and inclusive stories across multiple genres, reading levels and formats.
“Courage With Anandibai Joshee” (1865-87), one of India’s first women doctors, who became a bride at nine, sold her jewels to get a scholarship to fund her studies overseas, received a degree in medicine at the age of 20, served as a doctor at Kolhapur’s Albert Edward Hospital but contracted tuberculosis and died aged 22.
“Tragedies need not be an end, make them your lunch plate. Sincere heroes never give up, they challenge the hurdles of faith,” was her credo.
Self-taught, illustrator Sriya Singh creates her work digitally but keeps the process organic. She is always mindful to reflect calmness and happiness through her illustrations. Her inspiration comes from her surroundings, good conversations, dreams, music that she listens to, other artists, and creative people in general.
“Perseverance With Janaki Ammal” (1897-1984) is about a determined girl who broke an unfair that barred those of her gender from school, earned a doctorate in America, answered Jawaharlal Nehru call of “Come back, India needs you”, bettered India’s native plants sugarcane, brinjal and beet, had a flower named after her and received a Padma Shri.
“No dream is too difficult, no endeavour too large,” was her credo.
Illustrator Annada Menon has worked on various editorials, album art and children’s books.
In “Passion With Aditi Pant” (b 1943), the protagonist read about underwater life in the book “The Open Sea” and declared: “The ocean is calling out to me! That’s where I want to be.” She studied oceanography in Hawaii and earned a PhD, researched India’s coastlines all the way up to Kanyakumari and her team built India’s first lab on Antarctica.
Like Pant, find out what makes your pulse race and give it your very best shot.
Visual designer Boski Jain specialises in communication design, has illustrated 10 children’s picture books so far and likes studying and incorporating different styles of Indian folk art in her work using bright colours and patterns.
This box set will make an outstanding addition to your child’s library; don’t miss it.
The initial offerings from AdiPress were “My First Hanuman Chalisa” and “Are Your Emotions Like Mine,” followed by the first three books in the Learning TO BE series: “Kindness with Mahavira”, “Service with Guru Nanak” and “Peace with Buddha”.
Next up is a set on sportswomen that includes “Trust” on P.T. Usha, “Resilience” on Bhakti Sharma (the first Asian woman and the youngest in the world to set a record in open swimming in Antarctic waters), “Adaptability” with Arunima Sinha (the first female amputee to climb Mt Everest), and “Transformation” on (Revolver Dadi) Chandro and (sister-n-law) Prakashi Tomar.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)