BOOK American filmmaker Eugene Caputi's first kiddy book, Tara's Lookout, helps one look at a differently abled person with compassion
The Catholic Club terrace hall was packed with kids and book lovers for the launch of American filmmaker Eugene Caputi's first kiddy book “Tara's Lookout”. The book is dedicated to Caputi's two young sons Dante and Marco. Dante, who is seven, was proud and happy to pose with his Dad, while Marco sat in his stroller and waved his legs around. The front seats were reserved for children and Caputi drew up his chair and mike to their level and read out the entire 32-page book. As he read he held the book up to show the kids all the images which he had drawn and coloured himself.
The book is set in India and is centred around the life of Tara, a young girl with special needs. Caputi said he was inspired to create the character of Tara by several people he met with developmental disabilities. He was also keen on introducing western readers to day-to-day life in India through Tara's eyes. The book was launched by Aloma Lobo, Chairperson for the Adoption Coordinating Agency, Karnataka. Lobo said, “When our children are ‘different' we cannot change the world and people's attitudes, instead we must give them the strength to deal with the problem. Tara brings a powerful message to all of us – there is no such thing as a different person, we are all made by God for a reason and no child must be denied the opportunity to learn, whatever the disability.”
“We need more awareness and acceptance among children of the differently abled,” said Reena Ryall, who is an educational consultant in the field of learning disability. “Coming from the field of special education the book has touched a chord with me.” “The drawings took three months to do,” says Caputi, “but the colouring in Photoshop took the most of the nine months that I took to finish the illustrations. I am colour blind, so I put in a lot of sunset colours and it is really a hot day that I wanted to replicate in Bangalore. The most difficulty I had was with skin tones, so I got my wife, Nyna, my mother, Marion, who is a painter, and Ruth Boyle, another friend, to give me feedback.”
Caputi explained his simple and stark cover image. “It was very like the first image I had of the terrace which figures in my book, so that is why I replicated that image in my mind's eye.” As for his reason for doing the book Caputi said, “I don't want my sons to prejudge people like I did and presume they don't have enough to offer. As a young boy we had this differently-abled person visit and I always made fun of him because he visited for so long. I don't want them to be harsh like I was.... In fact, Nyna was surprised I was so patient while working on Tara and the entire concept of my book.”
MARIANNE DE NAZARETH