My mother’s latest book is the first cookery book for children published in Sri Lanka. It was written due to a special request by the Directress of a Montessori.
The entire book had to be designed attractively yet simply. I suggested that we highlight the magical nature of cooking. Once that idea was approved, the design aspects took shape fairly quickly. The cover illustration was hand drawn and coloured using a combination of colour pencils, watercolour pencils and gel pen. For the background I used a shade of the colour of magic—purple. The photographs of the dishes on the cover were selected according to 2 criteria: they had to represent the wide range and colours of the dishes within.
We decided that each recipe should begin with a simple prep drill. I incorporated the magical element into it by creating the mnemonic ‘WAND’. To aid young readers I drew simple illustrations which spelled out WAND visually. Repetition and structure are vital aspects in early childhood learning. I was mindful of these points when I designed the page layouts. Consequently, all 40 recipes were presented using the same layout. To differentiate the recipes which required an adult’s assistance I used a different colour.
We also wanted to train children to clean up the kitchen after cooking. Once again I used a magical element and another mnemonic—POOF. This was designed to complement the WAND mnemonic on the facing page. I sent a sample of the pages to the Montessori Directress. Her feedback was very positive and also appreciative.
Apart from designing the book I had to test the recipes as well. Thereafter, the results had to photographed for inclusion in the book. Once again I incorporated the idea of magic by including a trail of stars.
Enquiries confirmed that a second edition in our native language would be required. I was mindful of this factor whilst designing the book. The design was done to enable the re-use of printing plates wherever possible. Likewise, using only 2 process colours for approximately half of the book reduced costs. Consequently, the artwork of the Sinhala language edition was ready within 2 weeks.
The books were out on sale 2 1/2 weeks later. The timing was perfect as it was the week before our traditional New Year. It is a period when families are busy preparing traditional sweetmeats. Unfortunately, most children end up as spectators since cooking on stoves is deemed dangerous. Hopefully, our new book was just what they needed to break the spell!