Songs of the Jungle

In spring of 2012, during my Masters in Illustrated Picture Books for Children at I con I, I travelled to India. On the last day of my trip, I bought the Penguin paperback edition of The Jungle Book. I felt slightly naughty in doing so. I had militantly resisted reading authors such as Kipling and E.M. Forester for decades. They were “too colonial”, “too British” in respect to India. I devoured on the other hand every exiled or expatriated Indian author writing in English. The quest for their origins accompanied me through my own parallel journey.


How fear came, illustration by Rudyard Kiping

As time passed, my obsession with my origins allowed me to read more varied authors. This was equally shaped by my moving from Casablanca to London and back, and then from Madrid to Paris and back.  My reading list grew, I read in Spanish and French as well as in English. My resistance to certain authors due to their politics also shifted. So when I finally read Kipling’s Jungle Book, jet lagged from my trip, I didn’t feel guilty when I fell madly in love with the story.

I felt so much for this little boy, born in one world, brought up in another and constantly questioning both who and what he is.

I fell in love with the animals, their hindi names, their descriptions.


On the left: Not green corn. On the right: In the forest with Bagheera and Baloo. By Rudyard Kipling


At the time I had an assignment by the author Emilie Vast to make a small silent accordion book with a  surprise ending. Emilie’s work is full of vegetation and animals, so I felt that a jungle book of my own would be appropriate. The work I presented didn’t complete the brief, I knew that before I began it to be honest, but couldn’t help myself.


Image for Milk Magazine by Emilie Vast


I entered a jungle of my own thoughts, lined with coloured paper. And so I began to cut. I cut leaves and trees. I cut out characters of heavy tracing paper and coloured them in.

First maquette of Songs of the Jungle, photos by @Pluviam.

Years passed, as they do in the process of almost all of my projects. I thought often about publishing a small edition of the book using screen printing. I redid the illustrations and sent them to illustration contests only to have them sent back.


Edited illustrations for  Songs of the Jungle, photos by @Pluviam.

And then in 2018, weeks after becoming a mom to a beautiful 2 year old boy, I realised it was time to do something about the book. I wanted to publish it as a birth/arrival gift for my son. I met with  Natalia Royo Parache from TintaEntera Taller de Obra Gráfica on a trip to Zaragoza and we talked about the possibilities of screen printing a limited edition of the book and the process it would entail. We crunched numbers, decided on a co-edition between her studio and my L’École de Papier.


New illustrations for the book with a very different Mowgli character.

As I was decided on re-doing the artwork, I decided to do so in layers so that they could be easily translated to the various colour layers. We maintained the transparency of the paper, so that the objet-book could be played with to give a sense of depth to the jungle.


Process images of the new artwork, separated in colour layers.


Natalia translated the artwork beautifully, respecting the originals as closely as possible. While she was working on the screen printing process of the book in Zaragoza; I began playing around with stencil screens at Fabrica de Texturas in Madrid to see what the result would be like.

Playing with superpositions at Fabrica de Texturas.

A year after our first and only live meeting, we presented the book in her studio in Zaragoza.


Songs of the Jungle. Photos by @La Particular


Unfortunately,due to lockdown, we had to cancel the presentation  on Wednesday 11th of March in Panta Rhei, accompanied by Pep Carrió. We will have to wait a little while before we can converse about books, hand-made artist books, artesanal processes, making books to celebrate big life events amongst other things. New date will be announced as soon as possible. Stay safe everyone.


Song of the day:
Trust in me – Susheela Raman