Prince of Pre-school books

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Hervé Tullet

The Embassy of France in India and Alliance Française de Bangalore are hosting Hervé Tullet, the French bookmaker. He was in the city  to conduct a series of workshops and interactions with children, teachers, parents, storytellers and illustrators. Tullet’s itinerary included visits to Alliance Française de Bangalore, the Hippocampus Experience Center (Sat Aug 25, 4-6.30pm), and to Kathalaya (Sun Aug 26, 9.30am-1.30pm), apart from sessions reserved for school children on Mon Aug 27.  Interview

Your first published book is Comment papa a rencontré maman… Who or what inspired you to write this book? Have you written books before that?
I am not inspired by people. I am inspired by ideas and shapes. Comment papa a rencontré maman was inspired by an idea and not by anyone. It was inspired by two holes (Picture of papa in one hole and picture of maman in the other). That was the first book I wrote, and the first book that was published.

It has been said that maintaining a child-like quality in art is very challenging as you get older. Would you agree with this?
I totally agree with this. One has to be spontaneous and enjoy and feel what one draws. Very often, we get carried away with codes, rules and what publishers need. It gets difficult. My concept of scribble (The Scribble Book) is not far from the idea of being spontaneous, it is drawing without thinking. Writers will always read purpose, but by drawing a circle, then a hole or even a letter without much thought, you may not necessarily learn more, but you learn differently and most importantly by yourself.

Illustration de Hervé Tullet

Your Touch & Feel and Mix & Match series of books have revolutionized the world of children’s books and are loved by pre-schoolers all over the world. Did you have any idea of the impact they would have while creating them?
No, I had no idea how my readers would react. Initially, I had only a few people buying my books, mainly because it was profitable for the publishers. But it was a great opportunity for me to learn. Teachers, libraries and bookshops loved my work and encouraged me to write more.

Who are your favorite painters and illustrators?
Nobody in particular. My favorites keep changing every minute, every month, every year. But I like innovative artists. I like artists whose works show progress and artists who take risks.

Kids these days don’t read as much as they should. Yet your books remain popular because they engage children and are thoroughly interactive. What is your secret to capturing the attention of kids who would probably rather be watching Youtube?
Children are very open and receptive. Yes, with various new media, they do not read as much. There is no secret in my writing (laughs…) I trust my reader. I interact with my reader through my books.

Workshop session

You conduct workshops for kids, parents and illustrators all over the world. How do you vary your approach when working with different age groups?
During workshops, it was difficult at the beginning to work with adults. Adults are shy and uncomfortable. One needs to ‘play’ and ‘act’ my books. The reader that is the parent has to be the interpreter in the right way. There is a link between the parent and the book and the child. When I conduct workshops, I really don’t know what is going to happen, and something happens! It is purely by improvisation. Now with many years of experience, I know what is going to happen, but my secret is to always try to be in the moment, to interact with and to elicit from my audience, and something always new happens!

What advice do you have for the budding illustrators, designers and writers who were unable to attend your workshop?
My advice to young illustrators is to look and to be curious – very very curious. You have to see everything. There is so much around for you to see, things you know and things you don’t know.

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Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...