A ‘clever spin’ on upcycling

An adaptation of an European folktale, The Clever Tailor by the acclaimed children’s writer, Srividhya Venkat is the story of Rupa Ram, who stitches new clothes for others, but is unable to afford making any for his family. He is delighted when he is gifted a new ‘saafa’ (turban used by men) at a wedding and wears it all the time, till it’s worn out. The rest of the story describes how the worn-out saafa is imaginatively upcycled into different items of clothing for his family. The repurposing of the fabric into new items is a matter of pride for Rupa Ram and his family, and an endearing celebration of the culture of sharing and recycling that is prevalent in most Indian households.

When I first read this story, I was amused. It reminded me of how we Indians routinely reuse, recycle and repurpose things around the house, from kitchen leftovers to plastic bags. It’s cultural wisdom that I wanted to pass on to my daughter, and this delightful book published by Karadi Tales saved the day!

The story line is simple and the illustrations by Nayantara Surendranath vividly bring out the warmth at the heart of this story. Set in Rajasthan, the Indian motifs, hindi words and fabric prints transport you to Rupa Ram’s cultural bearings, offering a unique opportunity to discuss the regional diversity in India and introduce the tie-and-dye technique common in the region. But most of all, the book is a fun way of talking about reducing waste, recycling material and how children can do this on their own. So, get imaginative and have fun!

By Aparna Kher