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Authors Pranoti Sheldenkar and Archana Rajagopal on 'Mama Mia', a colouring book for adults that captures parenting moments

Pages from Mamma Mia   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

How would a new Mom pick stuff up from the floor as she balances her baby on the hip? It’s a gentle slide down striking a triangle pose. Trikon Masana suggests Pranoti Sheldenkar who calls this a parental asana. Her new book Mamma Mia, is an adult colouring book that captures parenting moments that are funny, chaotic, and also rewarding at times. Archana Rajagopal’s minimal illustrations make it even more entertaining. Don’t forget to check out the Kidtionary section and learn new words such as ‘Doz(e)’ that is explained as the fog of sleep that surrounds parents of babies! And, if you want to gen up on sibling rivalry, read War & Tease. Mamma Mia, The Mommyhood Life- A colour-in doodle book, is brought out by Wonder House Publishers.

Excerpts from an interview with the author and the illustrator.

Pranoti Sheldenkar

Pranoti Sheldenkar   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Why did you choose a colouring book format?

Wonder House, our publishers, thought there was a great opportunity to create a new concept which is colour-in cartoons for parents. Internationally, adult colouring books are gaining a lot of traction as a mode of relaxation so we wanted to introduce this to the harassed Indian parent as well. This has the added advantage that it can be enjoyed and coloured in by the children as well.

Did you follow any theme ?

Archana and I fortunately share the same design aesthetics. We wanted the final image tone and feel to be minimal, whimsical and affectionate. I think I helped figure out some of the child-specific elements while she brought in her own unique brand of humour and detailing.

Do you think this book will help parents-to-be or scare them away from the mad world of parenting?

Archana is not a parent yet. I keep telling her that I have either traumatised her out of ever having kids or really prepared her for how it actually is. Not the rainbows and sunshine version.

When I was expecting for the first time, nobody quite prepared me for the tsunami of living with the kids — the staggering irrationality (if you have had to take a child who insists on wearing shoes two sizes smaller because it is pink, or bawls because your hair happens to be attached to your head), or the constant sleep deprivation, the way they bulldoze into your personal space… (the two year old sitting with, if not on, you in the wash room) and other such fun stuff. I wish I had an inkling of that as an expectant parent. I am hoping this might give a little idea on that to future parents. In the long run, it’s funny, and one does it because one loves the child.

Mamma Mia colouring book

Mamma Mia colouring book   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

What led you to write this book?

I currently work as a brand planning consultant to a few advertising agencies, while my kids are patiently training me in adulthood and parenting. This book grew organically and almost accidentally. After the birth of my second child, I would be up all night taking care of her after chasing an active five-year-old during the day. Somewhere in the throes of this zonked mombiehood, when I had to clean poop (yet again), ‘Deja poo’ popped into my head. So I just started thinking of such homonyms during the night to keep myself entertained (and awake) and not drop the baby. I started sharing some of them on Facebook. They seemed to strike a chord. A couple of friends started insisting I structure this into a book form.

First Law of Ma-tion, Mumphy's Laws, yoga for parents...your chapter names are such pun!

I love puns and I love word play. So, this was almost inevitable. When we made the decision to make a new concept – colour-in cartoons, we decided that the first book needs to be an introductory book which gives a flavour of all the chapters. Ideally, we would like to create a series – the Mamma Mia, Ma-asanas could be next. Or Mamma Mia- Mumphys’ Laws.

If you have ever shared a bed with two starfish-octopus hybrids who are champion kickers – then you might be quite familiar with the parental asanas. Those contortions where the parent is forced to hang off the edge of the bed, holding on for dear life, but unable to move (or breathe) because, yay! The kids are finally asleep. I think that might have been the genesis of the yoga series (which happens to be my favourite section as well).

Mamma Mia colouring book

Mamma Mia colouring book   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

There are doodles that highlight the bonding of parents with the second one when the first child is away

The initial few weeks after the second/third child comes in tends to be fraught with so much adjustment for the older sibling. My elder kid used to look so stricken that I spent the whole time with him and the younger one was left either with my mother or husband. And then the mommy guilt used to rear its ugly head – so the entire furtiveness, and stolen moments with the little one in the absence of the older kid gave rise to this particular word pe-kid-dillo. Once the kids start engaging with each other then one can show affection to both.

Q &A with Archana Rajagopal

Archana Rajagopal

Archana Rajagopal   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Your references for the illustrations…

I have illustrated for children’s books before - one was Kitten the Dog, with Penguin Random House and the other was a children’s education series with US-based indie company 1stwords. But, this is my first illustration-heavy book for adults. I grew up watching anime and cartoons that are rather expressive. I’m also quite a visual thinker, and often think in doodles. Working with Pranoti to illustrate these parenting haps and mishaps with a dollop of humour was honestly right up my alley.

On going minimalist with illustrations…

Pranoti and I both share a liking of minimalist illustrations — quirky ones that make you smile. One thing we wanted to convey was the feeling that all the sticky, messy, stinky antics of kids were still adorable in their own way. And also underscore that even the exasperation and frustration felt by parents is accompanied by affection.

We didn’t want to create anything too intricate, because we wanted the humour in the scenes to take centre-stage. And although this is a colouring book, we wanted to give our readers the freedom to enjoy with the book as they want - whether it’s with conventional colouring using crayons, pencils or water colours or something more meditative like zentangle and other pattern-based art. So, we decided to go with a book of minimalist illustrations that people can get creative with.

Mamma Mia colouring book

Mamma Mia colouring book   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The sketches bring an instant smile...

I’m glad to hear that! I’ve always loved drawing things that can make people smile, no matter the message - whether it’s through a relatable expression, or a cheeky detail. Which is why I doodle. For this project, I’d create a rough sketch and send it across to Pranoti, and if she got it and it made her chuckle, we’d okay it and I’d set about refining it, and adding more details, and things to snigger about. The easiest ones were of course, the yoga ones — the descriptions painted pictures that was super fun to draw.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 1:00:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/authors-pranoti-sheldenkar-and-archana-rajagopal-bring-exhausted-parents-a-colouring-book-called-mama-mia-that-might-teach-them-to-smile-again/article31329340.ece

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