Social Justice Storytelling - Rohingya Refugee Humanitarian Crisis

June 20, 2019, World Refugee Day

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Our bilingual publishing company was hired by aid organization Save the Children to create an illustrated story about displaced Rohingya children. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority of 1.3 million, formerly living in the Rakhine State within Myanmar. Two years ago, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people fled violence and horrific abuses in their home and sought safety in neighboring Bangladesh. More than half of those fleeing were children.

Thoughtfully illustrated with detailed imagery, The Unexpected Friend is a fictional story based on the real lives of those children currently living in the refugee camps of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Their individual stories were compiled through the dedicated work of aid agencies Save the Children, Plan International and World Vision and transformed into a storybook in partnership with Guba Publishing, for the purpose of gifting it to the children in the camps.

A new friend!

A new friend!

Children playing at the camp learning centre.

Children playing at the camp learning centre.

A view of Kutupalong Refugee Camp

A view of Kutupalong Refugee Camp

The Unexpected Friend: A Rohingya Children’s Story is available for purchase on the Guba Publishing website. All profits from book sales to be donated directly to Save the Children’s Rohingya relief fund in Bangladesh. Order the book here.

Here are some other picture books to teach young children about the worldwide refugee humanitarian crisis (links to Amazon listing):

Celebrating diversity with kids on International Mother Language Day

February 21, 2019

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Today is International Mother Language Day (IMLD). The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed February 21 as the International Mother Language Day in November 1999. Since February 2000, it has become an annual observation to promote multilingualism and cultural and linguistic diversity.

Each year, UNESCO chooses a theme for the annual celebration of this important day. This year, the theme centers around Indigenous languages and its importance for development, peace building and reconciliation.

History and connection to Bangladesh

The Shaheed Minar   (martyr’s monument). The real structure in Dhaka, Bangladesh is covered with flowers of respect every year on February 21.

The Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument). The real structure in Dhaka, Bangladesh is covered with flowers of respect every year on February 21.

At the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided according to the religions of the inhabitants. The western part became part of India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. East and West Pakistan were separated from each other by 1600 Km of Indian territory. There were economic, cultural and linguistic differences between the two regions that resulted in tensions in 1948 when Pakistan's government declared that Urdu was the sole national language. This sparked protests amongst the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. The government outlawed the protests but on February 21, 1952, students at the University of Dhaka and other activists organized a protest. Later that day, the police opened fire at the demonstrators and killed four students. These students' deaths in fighting for the right to use their mother language are now remembered on International Mother Language Day.

The protests continued as Bengali speakers campaigned for the right to use their mother language. Bengali became an official language in Pakistan on February 29, 1956. Following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh became an independent country with Bengali as its official language.

The Shaheed Minar (martyr's monument) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pays homage to the four demonstrators killed in 1952.

Celebrating language diversity with kids

Languages are powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. Learning a new language is also a great tool to understanding a culture that is different from our own. Here are four fun and super simple ways to introduce linguistic diversity to children:

#1 Learn to say ‘hello’ in different languages!

A small gesture that can go a long way when you meet people from different backgrounds.

# 2 Dance to the Hula and learn Hawaiian

An important part of any preschool classroom, singing can help children to learn vocabulary and communication skills. Why not dance the hula and learn another language while you’re at it?

#3 Count ten toes in four languages

This catchy kid’s song teaches children to count in English, Spanish, Japanese and French.

#4 Watch a foreign language film

This last one is my favorite, although it would only apply to big kids who can read subtitles. If you’re not familiar with Studio Ghibli produced anime feature films, then this is a great opportunity to watch one of these brilliant Japanese classics.

Guba Publishing publishes Bengali inspired diverse kid lit, thus we wish every one:

Happy International Mother Language Day!

Weird and awesome Christmas traditions from around the world

Whether for religious reasons or simply for fun, Christmas is celebrated in some form or another in many countries around the world. These five countries have some unique traditions to make this holiday even more wonderful!

Santa’s evil twin Krampus scaring children (and adults) in Austria

Santa’s evil twin Krampus scaring children (and adults) in Austria

Austria

“Kids beware!”

Christmas may be jolly in North America, but in the folklore of the Austrian Alps, a Bad Santa takes the stage every year. This fearsome character’s name is Krampus: a half-man, half-goat demon whose legend has been around since pagan times, and whose Krampus Parade is now one of Europe's most popular festivals.

Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December and particularly in the evening of December 5 and roam the streets frightening children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells.


Norway

“Hide your brooms!”

Christmas Eve (Julaften) is the big event for Norwegians and families gather to have their main Christmas feast and open presents on this evening. Singing Christmas carols is an important part of the Christmas traditions and for this family members join hands and walk around the Christmas tree. 

But for the superstitious, all the brooms in the house are hidden! Norwegians long ago believed that witches and mischievous spirits come out on Christmas Eve and would steal their brooms for riding.


Japan

Yummy fried chicken!

In Japan only around around 1% of the population is Christian, and Christmas is not an official holiday. But over the past few years, it’s become customary for the Japanese to tuck into a festive feast of KFC on Christmas Day. Thanks to a successful advertising campaign, KFC branches throughout Japan report that families will queue around the block to pick up their battered thighs and wings. The tradition has now become so popular that orders for the KFC Christmas Party Barrel are taken as early as October.


Colombia

“Light up the town!”

Beautiful lights light up the city for Dia de las Velitas in Colombia

Beautiful lights light up the city for Dia de las Velitas in Colombia

In Colombia, Christmas celebrations and preparations start on the evening of the 7th December which is known as 'Día de las Velitas' or 'Day of the little Candles'. Houses and streets are decorated with candles, lanterns and lots of lights. There are also big firework displays and music to dance to and foods like 'buñuelos' and 'empanadas'. This day is celebrated by Catholics around the world as The Feast of the Immaculate Conception but is especially popular in Colombia.

Venezuela

“Santa’s on roller skates!”

For locals in the capital of Caracas, it is customary to strap on your roller skates and glide to Christmas mass.

Rollerskating to church in Caracas, Venezuela

Rollerskating to church in Caracas, Venezuela

Every year between 16 and 24 December in Caracas, Venezuela, roads are closed to traffic to let people  roller skate to the early morning Christmas mass. On their way, skaters will tug on the ends of long pieces of string tied by children to their big toes and dangled out of the window, so they know when to wake up and put their skates on.

Beautifully illustrated country & culture flashcards made by Guba Publishing available to purchase online in the USA and UK/Europe.

Five award winning children's books on Bangladesh and West Bengal

Twenty Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank

By Paula Yoo
Illustrated by Jamel Akib

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Published by: Lee & Low Books, 2014

Growing up in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus witnessed extreme poverty around and was determined to eradicate it. In 1976, as an Economics professor, Muhammad met a young craftswoman in the village of Jobra who needed to borrow five taka (twenty-two cents) to buy materials. No bank would lend such a small amount to an uneducated woman, so she was forced to borrow from corrupt lenders who charged an unfair interest rate, and left her without enough profit to buy food. Muhammad realized that what stood in the way of her financial security was just a few cents.

Inspired, Muhammad founded Grameen Bank where people could borrow small amounts of money to start a job, and then pay back the bank without exorbitant interest charges. Over the next few years, Muhammad’s compassion and determination changed the lives of millions of people by loaning the equivalent of more than ten billion US dollars in micro-credit. This has also served to advocate and empower the poor, especially women, who often have limited options.

Twenty-two Cents is an inspiring story of economic innovation and a celebration of how one person—like one small loan—can make a positive difference in the lives of many.

Rickshaw girl

By Mitali Perkins

Illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Published by Charlesbridge, 2007

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Naima is a talented painter of traditional alpana patterns, which Bangladeshi women and girls paint on their houses for special celebrations. But Naima is not satisfied just painting alpana. She wants to help earn money for her family, like her best friend, Saleem, does for his family. When Naima's rash effort to help puts her family deeper in debt, she draws on her resourceful nature and her talents to bravely save the day.

Includes a glossary of Bangla words and an author's note about a changing Bangladesh and microfinance.

Yasmin’s Hammer

By Ann Malaspina
Illustrated by Doug Chayka

Published by Lee & Low Books, 2010

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In the noisy streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, another busy morning is beginning as Yasmin rides to work in her father’s rattling rickshaw. Yasmin longs to go to school so she can learn to read, but her family needs the money she and her sister earn at the brickyard to help keep the rice bag full and the roof repaired.

As she hammers away at bricks day after day, Yasmin dreams of a different life. If she could read, she could be anything she wants to be when she grows up. One night Yasmin has an idea—a secret plan that will bring her one step closer to making her dream a reality.

Compassionately told and inspired by contemporary news articles, Yasmin’s Hammer offers a fresh perspective on the value of education. Readers will admire Yasmin’s persistence in reaching for her goals and the enduring love of her hardworking family in this hopeful story of a bright young girl whose mind is set on changing her future.

Grandma and the Great Gourd

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters

Published by Roaring Book Press, 2013

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Once upon a time, in a little village in India, there lived an old woman. Everyone in the village called her Grandma. One day, Grandma received a letter from her daughter, who lived on the other side of the jungle. “Please come and visit me,” said the letter. “I haven’t seen you in so long. I miss you.” And so, Grandma begins a perilous journey to the far side of the jungle.  Can she use her keen wit to escape the jungle animals and make it safely home?

Chitra Divakaruni’s sharp, rhythmic retelling of this Bengali folktale is complemented perfectly by Susy Pilgrim Waters’s brightly colored, captivating illustrations.

The Ghost Catcher

By Martha Hamilton & Mitch Weiss

Illustrated by Kristen Balouch

Published by August House Little Folk, 2008

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A barber in Bengal is so generous to others that sometimes he has nothing left for his own family. When he comes home empty-handed once again, his wife, tired of going hungry, sends him packing until he finds a way to feed the family. As the barber rests under a banyan tree he is terrorized by a ghost. Through his cleverness, though, he turns the frightening encounter into a solution to his problems. When he returns home to his grateful wife, their money worries are over, and the barber can continue to share with those in need. In a hilarious turn of events, the barber discovers a way to scare the ghost into doing what he says. Kristen Balouch's crisp and colorful illustrations transport us to a world where the living bargain and bluff with the dead, where the communities gather under sprawling banyan trees, and where generosity prevails. This colorful, Bengali folktale will teach readers the importance of courage, resourcefulness and trustworthiness.

All five books have won at least one publishing award or notable mention, with the exception of “Twenty Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank” and “Rickshaw Girl” that have won numerous prestigious literary awards.

An interview with a children's illustrator from Dhaka

Tell us about yourself. What work do you do? 

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Hello, I am Rakibul Hasan. I am a Freelance Illustrator from  Bangladesh. I live with my wife Disha and two beautiful cats Umami and Yami. I am an Art Director at Grey Dhaka. 

As an art director I typically oversee the work of other designers and artists who produce images for advertisements both for television, and print media. I generate ideas, direct how the creative will work best and design concepts. 

 

Have you always been an artist? How did you start?

I can’t actually determine the exact age when I started drawing. I was always an art enthusiast and used to spend hours looking at different art works on books,  magazines or newspaper.  I started drawing little cartoons at school and I never stopped. During my years in the University, studying law, I thought why don’t I do something for a living that I love doing, and never get bored of,  thus my first step of “learning to draw” began.

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When you make illustrations for children, what is your process? 

I always start by thoroughly reading the script, learn about the characters, their behavior. I then plan a figure, according to their age and build, with the target audience in mind. The genre of the book is very important too, it determines the character and illustration style, the environmental factors, the basic features, etc. After going through this I start with the illustrations following the writer’s brief.

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What (or who) is your inspiration for your creative work?

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Naming one or two favorites or inspiration is very tough, I follow a lot of artists and they inspire me in various ways, someone knows how to express themselves well, someone plays with color beautifully, or someone may express happiness through their canvas in such an excellent manner, that leaves me breathless. My inspirations also come from nature, people around me,  and from my cats too.

Do you have any tips for young people who want to work in the creative field?

I will tell them to follow their heart, go though different art periods and famous artists, learn a bit about history, experiment with their ideas, style and techniques and practice to achieve their goal. Try to be honest and experiment well. 

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 Rakibul Hasan is the talented illustrator of the Guba board book series My World of Colors, My World of Opposites and My Beautiful World. His other work can be viewed here.

Perspectives on Identity

September 6, 2018

Raya Rahman

I grew up in a place where everyone around me had the same customs, culture, language and ideologies in life. I hardly gave a thought to what my identity was because it was already strongly defined through the numerous shared experiences of my peers. And these experiences matched what I saw at home as well. This will most likely not be the case for my daughters. Having lived all their lives in Canada and now the USA, they will face situations with their peers that might make them feel different. It might make them question what they see at home. And as they get older, it might make them ponder about their identity.

So what really is their identity? This summer we started to work with a bright young lady who kindly offered her own perspective on the subject.

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"Hi! I’m Zaara and I’m an intern at Guba Publishing! So a little about me, I’m a 17 year old Bengali American who lives in Virginia. I’m a senior who is beginning to apply to colleges this fall which is a stressful experience in itself. But what makes it more intense is that colleges are always asking applicants to tell them who they really are. But how do I really convey the many different identities as a woman and as a Muslim and especially as a Bengali that adds up to me?

I heard about Guba Publishing from my aunt and the idea of the company really spoke to me because, even though I can understand spoken Bangla and speak conversational Bangla to my family and friends, I can’t read it. I’m illiterate in my mother tongue and attempting to learn it has been an uphill battle from day one. When I was eight I spent the summer in Bangladesh and my grandmother got me a tutor and while she and my parents encouraged me to retain what I learned after I returned home, the stacks of Bangla books collected dust on the highest shelf.

I am a first generation American. A lot of the customs that my parents grew up with seem outdated to me like not eating with your left hand and other superstitions that they believe but to me, without the constant cultural implications of them, seem odd. I’m hoping that initiatives like Guba Publishing, that makes learning Bangla easy and approachable and opens up a platform to speak about different perspectives, will help me bridge the cultural gap between me and my parents.

- Zaara Masud"

 

When I read Zaara's post, it reminded me of a question my older daughter once asked me. She asked why I eat rice and lentils (bhaat daal) with my hand but I eat fried rice with chopsticks and other rice dishes with a fork? Which one is right, she asked. 

Fork vs. chopsticks vs. hand

Fork vs. chopsticks vs. hand

It was a great question. 

Unfortunately I didn't have a good answer at the time. 

But if she asks again, I would tell her that its not about right or wrong. Its about being adaptable.  Its about embracing many different perspectives. Its about having more than one identity and being okay with it. 

And hopefully, when she's Zaara's age, she will understand. 

 

 

 

 

Pohela Boishakh celebrations around the world

May 3, 2018

On April 15th, Bengalis around the world celebrated the start of a new year 1425 in the Bengali lunisolar calendar. Some historians state that the history of this special calendar dates back to the 15th Century during Mughal reign of the Bengal region. In those days, agricultural taxes were collected according to the Islamic calendar. But the Islamic calendar was lunar and it didn't coincide with the harvest which made it difficult for the farmers as they had to pay out of season. To make things simple, Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned his Royal Astronomer Fathullah Shiraz to combine the lunar Islamic calendar and the solar hindu calendar to make a harvest calendar. Thus began the start of Bangla New Year (Noboborsho) celebrations and festivities on the first day of the first Bengali month 'Boishakh' (Pohela Boishakh) that continues to this day!

Here are a few snippets of how Pohela Boishakh was celebrated in some cities around the world:

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Mongol Shobhajatra for Pohela Boishakh 1425 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Mongol Shobhajatra for Pohela Boishakh 1425 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Bangladeshis all over the country come out in huge numbers to celebrate Pohela Boishakh on April 14th of every year, a day that is also marked as a government holiday. In Dhaka, thousands of people take part in the "Mongol Shobhajatra" festival, an event organized by the students and teachers of Dhaka University's Faculty of Fine Arts. The procession was first organized in 1989 by the University Faculty in order to symbolize peace and unity regardless of religion, gender, class, or age. The most fun feature of the processions are the giant, colorful, masks and representations of animals! In 2016, UNESCO declared this event as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

Brooklyn, USA

Noboborsho celebration in Kensington, Brooklyn. Photo Zainab Iqbal/BKYNER

Noboborsho celebration in Kensington, Brooklyn. Photo Zainab Iqbal/BKYNER

Kensington, a diverse neighbourhood of Brooklyn, NY, was the setting for a most beautiful Noboborsho celebration this year, complete with face painting, hues of red, colorful masks and an all female samba drumline! Who could ask for more? Check out the details of the festivities in this wonderful article here.

All female Samba band. Photo Zainab Iqbal/BKYNER

All female Samba band. Photo Zainab Iqbal/BKYNER

 

Tokyo, Japan

Hosted by the Japan Bangladesh Society, The 19th Bangladeshi Boishakhi Mela and Curry Festival attracted a crowd of almost 12000 people to the Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park on April 15th in Tokyo. Bangladeshi expats living in Japan and Japanese locals enjoyed the cultural programs and delicious food vendors offering curry and other Bangladeshi food.

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Bangla songs performed by  Bajna Beat  at the Tokyo Boishakhi mela

Bangla songs performed by Bajna Beat at the Tokyo Boishakhi mela

 

Sydney, Australia

The Sydney Boishakhi Mela is a lavish affair with live entertainment, fireworks, theatrical performances and lots of food and handicraft stalls! What started as a small cultural event with just a few Bangladeshis in Australia has now become one of the biggest Bengali events outside of Bangladesh, attracting crowds of up to 20,000 people. Check out their epic promo video for the 2018 festival here!

The Bengali New Year Festival at ANZ Stadium, Sydney

The Bengali New Year Festival at ANZ Stadium, Sydney

London, UK

Pohela Boishakh Mela 2017 in London - Photo courtesy The Docklands and East London Advertiser

Pohela Boishakh Mela 2017 in London - Photo courtesy The Docklands and East London Advertiser

Last, but not least, the Tower Hamlets Boishakhi Mela is possibly the biggest Bengali festival outside South Asia. The 2018 festival date is set for July 1st and it is expected to be a grand affair, with famous musicians (rock band Miles performed last year), children's cultural programs, colorful processions and tons of fun and free activities. The 2017 festival crowd size was more than 40,000 people! 

Children performing at the Pohela Boishakh Mela 2017 in London - Photo courtesy The Docklands and East London Advertiser

Children performing at the Pohela Boishakh Mela 2017 in London - Photo courtesy The Docklands and East London Advertiser

 

Wherever you are in the world, we wish you a Happy New Year 1425! 

শুভ নববর্ষ ১৪২৫! 

 

 

Reading with your child has lifelong benefits

April 2, 2018

Raya Rahman

Today marks International Children's Book Day 2018, a special day to inspire and promote the love of reading among children around the world. This yearly event, held on April 2nd around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, is sponsored by The International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY), a nonprofit organization based in Basel, Switzerland that promotes the appreciation of children’s literature.

Reading to children from an early age helps to give them the best possible start in life. It not only boosts language development, but listening to a parent's voice can be highly comforting for infants and toddlers. 

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Picture books are a great introduction to reading. The illustrations of a picture book are a powerful way to help a young learner understand the story and to gain a sense of independence. Picture books are multi-sensory, which aids a child’s growing mind and stimulates their imagination. They offer a more interactive communication between parent and child.

Here are some tips to enjoy reading together :

  • Choose a quiet place away from noise, television and mobile phones
  • Take time to look and talk about the pictures
  • It doesn’t matter if your child chews books to start with. Soon they will help you turn the pages.
  • Bring stories to life by using animal noises, silly voices and sound effects- it will make you both laugh!
  • Make reading together a routine by picking the same time everyday. My own children look forward to reading with their parents before going to bed every night.

Happy reading from all of us at Guba Publishing! :)

Tiny makes a BIG splash at Author Reading events in Dhaka!

Jan 24, 2018

Raya Rahman

“Is she jumping in paint?”

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“That creature looks like a germ!”

“Oh no, she will get eaten!”

These are just some of the creative comments made by kids who attended the highly interactive book reading of “Tiny Jumps In” by the book’s author and illustrator, Inshra S. Russel, in various venues in Dhaka city. 

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In the spirit of bilingualism (a big part of the Guba ethos), our good friend Rushnaf Wadud, singer and song-writer extraordinaire, read out the Bengali verison of the book “টাইনি ঝাঁপ দিল”.

 

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There were giggles and laughter as the fantastic duo narrated Tiny’s big underwater adventure most expressively. 

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Mr. Mustafa Monwar, eminent award winning artist and puppeteer, graced us with his presence at the BENGAL BOI event on January 19th. It was a special honor to have him as a guest in the audience. He was called up on stage by Inshra, although he resisted, and he gave the loveliest impromptu talk on the enormous benefits of teaching children through fun and laughter. 

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The grand finale, much to the children’s delight, was a story writing game with prizes and candy for all! The game players spun the 'words wheel' (pictured on the right) and used their words to make sentences until a story formed!  All participants chose their very own Guba posters as their prize. In the picture below, a little girl decides to take the Bengali Alphabet poster as her prize.

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The debut author and illustrator was thrilled to meet the young audience members in person after the reading and sign their books with a warm personal message.

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The events were lovely and we look forward to hosting many more. Do check our Facebook page for more author readings and children’s events coming up in the future!

Ready...set...LAUNCH!

December 15, 2017

Raya Rahman

November 2017 and the weeks leading up to it just whizzed by in a blur. Inshra and I, along with our team of uber talented artistic contributors and diligent printers spent many a sleepless nights to get ready for our launch at the Dhaka Literary Festival, where we presented our books and flashcards to an audience for the first time. 

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As we rushed to the finish line at the end of October, a few unanticipated delays caused us to miss the printer’s deadline :S But our wonderful printing company pulled off a miracle (and some night shifts) to bring our much awaited books and flashcards literally “hot off the press” to the Guba booth at the festival! 

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Barring a few hiccups – sadly much of our booth décor was destroyed in a sudden rainstorm the night before the launch – everyone stopping by managed to have oodles of fun! A huge thank you to Inshra for designing the most fun and engaging games that both kids and adults enjoyed in equal proportion.  This was no boring booth! Spin the wheel, trivia or dare, story writing game, plinko board, prizes – you name it, we had it :) 

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In other Guba related activities at the Festival, Mr. Mustafa Monwar’s socially conscious and super fun puppet show thrilled the children in attendance while Inshra teamed up with Rushnaf (a friend who also happens to be a radio jockey, singer and song writer) to read out her debut picture book “Tiny Jumps In” to finish off the three-day long event. 

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As far as launches go, this one was eventful, exhausting, exhilarating and energizing. Now the real work begins.

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"Subculture vulture" - Where in the world would you like to go?

October 1, 2017

Inshra S Russell

One good thing about doing a liberal arts degree is that you learn about culture, and specifically subcultures. Mine was in Fashion Photography at London College of Fashion. Teddy boys, New Romantics, Punks, Skinheads, many styles, many influences boiled together in my mind as I attempted to contextualise.  While grasping western subcultures, I realised that the same must be happening at home continent. What was happening at home, in Bangladesh?

You just have to look at the art, films and music coming out of Bangladesh now to see the change in fashion and culture. Festivals like Chobi Mela, Dhaka Art Summit and Dhaka Lit Fest have put famous talented stars on the plane straight to Dhaka City to attend. Bangla hip-hop is on the radio and all over youtube, and artists like Black Zhang are representing at the Alchemy Festival, UK. The Milkshake Collective in Dhaka is a bunch of quirky, creative young artists and entrepreneurs making waves…and cakes! The energy around all this is electric, and I feel it as soon as the plane lands in Dhaka.

We have been fortunate to work with an energetic young artist, the lovely Humairah Shams aka The Left Handed Wildflower. She has a warm, contemporary style that blends together bright colours with a watercolour textures. Her typography is both script and modern influenced, with bold and friendly strokes. Right now she is working away on our English alphabet flashcards inspired by countries and capitals.

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Where In The World? is 26 flashcards with names of countries for each alphabet. Each flashcard has a map of the country. it’s capital city and fun features dotted in. It’s a fun way to learn about countries and their cultures and Humairah has been meticulously drawing and painting all the elements. 

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The last time I visited Dhaka was last November, and I made it to the Folk Music Festival and the Lit Fest. Besides the burst of hijabi fashionistas with their funky scarf twists and thick eyebrows were the handsome hipster boys with well-groomed facial hair and man buns on top of their heads.  I wonder what will be on the radar this year?

 

 

 

Halfway to launching Guba!

August 31, 2017

Inshra S Russell

Guba Publishing was conceived in 2016 and birthed in 2017, which is why this is such an exciting year for us. We have managed to put things together enough to plan our launch in November, at the Dhaka Literature Festival.

In fact, founder-fantastic Raya Rahman has just returned from fruitful a trip to Dhaka. Meetings with printers, illustrators, lawyers and inspirational people means that Raya is now a happy bunny, looking towards a future with a basketful of fun prospects. She will no doubt fill you in with the juicy details...or keep it all a secret, you’ll have to ask her.

As for Inshra here in London, the wet weather, instead of curbing, has satiated the cup of creativity drop by drop. Lists of things to do have been ticked off, dinner has been made and the feeling of satisfaction hovers tantalisingly in the air - almost within reach. That’s a rare feeling so I had to record it.

So our wonderful consumers of culture, we have a bunch of things in store for you. The Guba Podcast, our online freebie will be up and running soon and we would love to hear your thoughts on what you want to hear...to feed your thoughts. As for me, I return to the life away from the laptop, the other real one.

 

 

 

Starting a niche publishing business...

August 1, 2017

Raya Rahman

Had someone told me five years ago that I would be starting a business selling Bengali books, I would have a) laughed in their face and b) internally thought to myself that I would never do such a thing. In true mock-movie-dramatized fashion, fast forward to the present and here I am sitting at a coffee shop with my laptop doing exactly that! What sequence of events led to this change of heart, you ask? (And if you are actually asking that and still reading on, then THANK YOU :).

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Here's the short version: I grew up in Dhaka, Bangladesh but my kids were NOT born there. This created the obvious unfortunate dilemma of Bengali language loss as soon as said offspring started daycare/school. I searched and searched for some quality reading or animated material that would expose them to their parent's native language in a fun and appealing way. The initiative failed miserably, and my kids went back to their "way cooler" English books and learning videos. I have to admit that I probably felt rather defensive - after all, our Bengali experiences were also "way cool!" We definitely had the stories to share, but perhaps what's missing are a trusted platform and fun packaging, I thought. And that was how the idea of Guba Publishing came to be...

Okay, I tricked you, that was the long version (did I say Thank you for reading!). Now that you know the back-story, this is where we are hopefully headed. We want to be your go to place for great stories…we want to present these stories in the most fun, safe and appealing set-up that both kids and grown-ups will appreciate…and we want to create fair partnerships with authors and illustrators with the common goal of sharing their talent with the world. And last, but not least, we want to provide all of the above in both English and Bengali, so it’s accessible to a lot more people!

More to come on launch dates, the first books and other interesting tit bits. Please stay tuned!