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  • Writer's pictureTulika Publishers

Guest post by Anne Dayanandan: A Colourful Treasure Hunt

Librarian and reading specialist Anne Dayanandan shares her thoughts on our latest picture book, Many Colours of Us!

PLUS suggested classroom activities inspired by the book.

Colours bring smiles.

Colours express the vibrancy of life surrounding us.

This colourful book opens many windows, encouraging us to explore the world with a new pair of binoculars. That world is India, although the name does not appear anywhere. Birds, animals, trees, plants, fruit, food, a lake, a cave, a cloth, a clay pot: these populate the pages of delightful fantasy and real-life action.

The story gives a framework. A baby bird tells an assemblage of ten bird friends that it wants to choose a colour for itself. Naturally, they each recommend their own colour, showing samples of flowers, fruit, and more from different places. The lively illustrations spread right off the edges of the pages, forming a window frame for the verse. Some people and locations are photographs that are creatively integrated with the artistic natural world.

So is this a book about colours? Yes, and more! Visual literacy need not always be tied to the text. As in a wordless book, a younger child can enjoy the details. Recognizing the rhinoceros or coffee beans and chatting about them naturally follows. Finding, counting, matching, or mimicking the birds come automatically. All the birds are real ones but appear cartoon style to fit the story, such as the parakeet drinking a cup of tea in the Nilgiris tea estate. Does the nestling choose a colour in the end? Even the final thought and yellow map are worth a range of discussions.

Aside from colours, the text focuses attention on features and locations—some familiar, some new. The verses are short couplets that will intrigue and delight, inviting a rhythmic reading. Time to explore, time to pull out the wall maps and atlas, whether the readers live in India or elsewhere. What an opportunity to talk about places and people: where have we visited and where to go next? No dumbing down here: run for your dictionary! Do young people get stuck on words such as ‘luscious’ or ‘tint’? Given the delightful context, new words can become new friends. Who are we to limit a child’s growth? Better to spark, stimulate, encourage, stretch: and see where it takes them. Like a treasure hunt!


  • ​Act out in small groups by colour

  • Find the matching colours in your surroundings

  • Find all things of one colour in one day

  • Talk about/draw a favourite colour with samples from book or new ones

  • Introduction to colour wheel; rainbow; prism

  • Focus on food and fruit; bring in samples to share

  • Create own similar chart or story

  • Put a tune or rhythm to the couplets

  • Explore what is colour in all its aspects: physics of colour, emotions, sources of natural dyes, cultural uses of colour, vocabulary of colour, physical perception of colour, colour blindness

  • Find locations, habitats on maps

  • Match landscapes with typical natural products

  • Discuss eco-regions and protected areas such as Ramsar sites, National Forests. Insert / identify them on maps.

  • Explore information about an unfamiliar part of the country; plan a visit

  • Create a collage like the map at end

  • Complete a large floor jigsaw puzzle map of India in a small group; make a jigsaw puzzle map of your own

  • Field trips to local natural area / garden / zoo / beach

  • Go birding, on nature walks

  • Invite an ecologist, forest ranger, college student or nature film maker

  • Make lists of names and locations of the real birds, animals and plants. List common English names, vernacular names and scientific names as appropriate.

  • Make personal lists of all those seen in real life. Draw them.

  • Give names that are typical to their region for the people pictured. Find out meanings of the chosen names.

  • Explore how the natural surroundings and people interact and benefit or harm each other.

Gather other books about colour, ecology and the natural world of South Asia.

Tulika offers so many! Check out these titles:

  • Why the sky is blue

  • Mama, What is the Night?

  • Colour-colour Kamini

  • The Mystery of Blue

  • The Colour Thief

  • Shorewalk

  • Ira the Little Dolphin

  • Andamans Boy

  • Sultan’s Forest

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