Behind Papa’s Marathon

Papa’s Marathon won the Jarul Book Award 2019. Here we talk to Nalini Sorensen, the author, and Prashant Soni, the illustrator, to find out a little more about the people behind this wonderful book.

Nalini, how does it feel winning the Jarul Book Award two years in a row?

N: To win the Jarul Book Award once, was a dream come true. Twice? Surreal. I can’t even express properly the pride, happiness or gratitude I feel about winning this award two years in a row. I sometimes need to pinch myself, as I feel like it is all happening to someone else, and I am just witnessing it from the outside.

Prashant, what was your response to Papa’s Marathon winning the Jarul Book Award 2019?

P: I was so happy to find out our book won this award. It was an unbelievable feeling for me because this is my first award. Credit goes to the entire team.

Was Papa in Papa’s Marathon inspired by anyone you know in your life?

N: I wrote Papa’s Marathon while I lived in Melbourne, Australia. Australians are very sporty people, and I found myself constantly surrounded by friends who had signed themselves and their children up for marathons on the weekend. I guess I got sucked into the culture a little bit, as I bought myself a Fitbit. I remember describing my Fitbit to my mum, and her asking me, in a confused tone, ‘But if you are walking, why do you need to know how many steps you are walking?’
To answer your question, I think Papa is a lot like I am. But let’s not get into that. My Fitbit just reminded me to get moving, so I must take a few steps now!

The ending of Papa’s Marathon has no text – it is revealed through the illustration alone, how did you manage to convey the meaning wordlessly, through only your art?

P: The text was really not necessary in the last page because you can understand what is going on through the illustrations alone. The expressions on the characters’ faces convey that by themselves.

The ending of Papa’s Marathon had a twist no one was expecting, why did you choose to go for such an unconventional ending?

N: I’d love to say I chose the ending. The truth of the matter is, I didn’t. Dadi did.
My characters, in all my books, seem to have a mind of their own. They don’t listen to me. I’m merely their typing channel, setting their story free for children to read.

And finally, Prashant, is there an artist or illustrator whose work you admire?

P: There are several illustrators’ whose work I admire and who inspire me. Some of them are Atanu Roy, Pulak Biswas and Rebecca Dautremer, Paul Tatarnikov, and Quentin Greban.