Krishna Bala Shenoi Posts

“Get Off That Camel!” and “Cat’s Egg”

Get Off That Camel! and Cat’s Egg are two picture books published by Karadi Tales.

Get Off That Camel is a delightful tale about little Meena who is obsessed by her pet camel and refuses to get off it’s back. She attends school sitting atop her camel, she visits the library where fortunately the height at which she is perched enables her to search for books placed in the topmost bookshelves, she goes jogging in the park with her father but all the time astride her pet, accompanies her mother to the supermarket with her camel creating havoc among the aisles and so on. Her love for camels began as an infant when she was given a stuffed camel toy to cuddle with in bed. Her parents did it innocently enough little realising the unfortunate sequence of events it would unleash. It was only when the doctor examined the camel declaring “This poor animal is exhausted”, did Meena agree to climb down and let the camel live in a stable. After all Meena was a kind girl. Get Off The Camel! is an adorable picture book with beautifully designed clear illustrations. Apart from the sweet story it works marvellously well in teaching little readers about empathy and to be a little less self-centred. The only reservation about the storytelling are the roles of the parents with the mother being responsible for the grocery shopping while the father is focused on jogging and teaching his daughter about leading a healthy life. While it may be quite a simple representation of what is often seen in reality, it is still a little disconcerting as it seems to enforce well-known narratives rather than offering little readers alternative role models.

Cat’s Egg is a modern day Easter tale about a cat who is convinced she has laid an egg which will soon hatch. Cat is adamant the egg she found in her bed. So she sits atop it in the hope it will soon hatch her kittens. Despite the Dog, Crow, Magpie, and Turtle telling her otherwise, Cat refuses to listen. It is only when it is pointed out to her gently by the Turtle that the egg is turning damp, does the Cat realise there is something truly amiss with the soggy egg. It is then that Dog and Cat figure out the truth. The Cat has mistaken a chocolate Easter egg for an egg. A truly mixed-up cat if there was one! Warm and sweetly told tale introducing multiple concepts of birth, nurturing, friendships and the Christian tradition of celebrating Easter. Of course the tale is focused on the commercial aspect of how Easter is celebrated with plenty of confectionary particularly Easter eggs rather than the concept of Christians celebrating the festival in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, a new beginning, a new life — a fact that the egg symbolises. A slightly mixed-up tale like the Cat but it does not take away from the pure joy of storytelling.

Get Off The Camel! and Cat’s Egg are marvellous picture books. Wonderful additions to any book collection.

A. H. Benjamin Get Off That Camel! Illustrated by Krishna Bala Shenoi. Karadi Tale, Chennai, 2019. Hb. pp. 32. Rs. 399

Aparna Karthikeyan Cat’s Egg Illustrated by Christine Kastl. Karadi Tale, Chennai, 2019. Hb. pp. 32. Rs. 399

22 March 2019

Scholastic Encyclopaedia Of Dinosaurs

Scholastic Encyclopaedia Of Dinosaurs is a visual delight apart from beingpacked with information. The well-recognised dinosaurs such as Triceratops ( Three-horned face), Mamenchisaurus, Kentrosaurus ( Spiked Lizard) and Tyrannosaurus Rex ( Tyrant Lizard King) are described beautifully. There are full-page colour spreads with exciting information about each highlighted in a comment bubble within the illustration. Alongside it is an illustration in a box comparing the height of a human being to that of the dinosaur. Neatly presented in a panel on the side is the geographical location of the dinosaur, in which year were the fossils first discovered, dimensions of the animal, and its diet. Without it being too much of an information overload, details about the dinosaurs are presented so clearly with simple visual layouts and a clean font used that even I for the first time in years has finally understood in one fell swoop what Trynnosaurus Rex is all about. It is utterly brilliant.


Tyrannosaurus Rex

Titanosaurus Indicus

Dinosaur books exist by truck loads in the market. A significant proportion of storybooks for children particularly for pre-schoolers rely upon dinosaurs. Many times they are anthropomorphised. The dinosaurs often used are Trynnosaurus Rex and Mamenchisaurus, so much so these complicated names come tripping off the tongues of tiddlers. Most of the dinosaurs children are familiar with are found in USA, Europe and China.


Laevisuchus Indicus







This is where the Scholastic Encyclopaedia Of Dinosaurs is exceptional. It has mentioned the few dinosaurs found in India like Titanosaurus Indicus, Kotasaurus, Laevisuchus Indicus, Rajasaurus Narmadensis, and Therizinosaurus. What is truly astonishing is that these dinosaurs were drawn by Krishna Bala Shenoi based on the evidence  available.

Rajasaurus Narmadensis

The editors and illustrator did try and search for illustrations that may have existed based on the skeletal remains discovered except that no satisfactorily clear images were to be found. This is what the illustrator Krishna Bala Shenoi had to say about the process:

Indian dinosaurs haven’t been represented in a plethora of paleoart or scientific reconstructions in the way that most commonly known dinosaurs have been, for a variety of reasons. The references I had to work with (some given to me, some discovered online) were so few in number, so lacking in detail and, most significantly, so contradictory between themselves that I had to do a lot of fairly unscientific guesswork.


My process came down to collecting the images I could, constructing a notion of the dinosaur that sort of fit the multiple references, and then filling in the blanks with details from similar dinosaurs that had richer libraries of visual resources. In one case, I used images of a toy dinosaur (different from the one I was illustrating) as a springboard for the construction of the dinosaur’s body.

I was initially very reluctant with every move I made, fearing I was way off the mark, but later discovered how wrong paleoart has been over the years. That was comforting in a way; it gave me permission to be okay with, essentially, making some details up. So I just had fun with it.

I illustrate digitally, but there’s a misconception that that means it’s not hand drawn. It very much is. I work on a device called a graphic tablet which ports my drawing/painting from the tablet surface onto my computer screen in real time.

This is an extraordinary achievement and is a testament to how much effort the editorial team is willing to put in to make available authentic information in a stunning layout.

This is a book for keeps. To be read. To be shared. To be bought for reference, libraries and school resource materials.

To be gifted liberally simply for the pleasure of holding and reading a beautiful book.

Scholastic Encyclopaedia Of Dinosaurs Scholastic India, Gurgaon, India, 2018. Pb. pp. 80. Rs 399

Reading level: 9 – 16 



30 May 2018 

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