Book Series: Diseases inside out

Sui learns to bite

A book on malaria for children?

What are Mosquitos? Why do they bite us? How do they spread diseases? How long do they live? Find out all about Mosquitos and the most common disease they spread Malaria. Through the life of the mosquito name "Sui". A curious young mosquito who along with her newly found friends discovers the perils and excitement of their life and how they spread Malaria.

Enjoy the colorful fact packed book, full of fascinating illustrations and photographs! Book designed for children of seven years and above.

How did you arrive at this project topic, why malaria and why children as the focus?

It has been my long-term interest to see design play a key role in influencing public health communication. After having spent some time immersing myself into the subject many influencing factors came to the forefront. Especially related to Health and Hygiene. Diseases and its effect on people in urban centers became of particular interest to me considering I too belonged to this segment. Issues like diseases and awareness are directly related to the lifestyles that people lead. A lot of us today, even as adults, live with so many misguided notions about our health and body. Children are often faced with such mistaken concepts when they fall ill and don’t have a clear idea of what’s going on. It is important to explain them the reality, because they too have a right to know. In these crucial years of their lives, when their understanding develops, all these pieces of information will help them make choices in the future with respect to lifestyle changes.

I chose ten diseases, which are common amongst children in India, or they had heard of within the spectrum of communicable and non communicable diseases and epidemics: Malaria (Fever, Common Cold), which was taken as my first testing example, Dengue Typhoid, Jaundice, Polio, Anaemia, Chicken Pox, TB, Cancer, Heart Attack, Diabetes and Swine Flu.

The content seems vast, how did you freeze on the content and structure information. What methodology did you adopt?

I worked closely with a friend of mine who is a doctor. We identified 5 key areas that are important to understand any disease: the agent, the host, the mode, the incubation period and the environment. We then worked backwards and worked on the important facts that need to be included. We set together to break down complex information like life cycles and organisms for easier understanding of children. We went over the list of diseases and the kind of data that needs to be put into simpler chunks of information. I also got the opportunity to meet professor of Public Health, Dr. Harshad Thakore from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, in the very initial stages of my research to understand public health and its implications.

Tell me something about the illustration style you chose? Why this particular one?

I did refer to different illustration styles but this particular style is something that I explored and came to naturally. The book is my first attempt at illustration too and has been a great learning experience. The illustrations were hand drawn and then reworked in Photoshop using a tablet.

Why did you choose the mosquito point of view in the story?

I chose the mosquito's point of you consciously to focus on the ecological balance and not show any one entity in bad light. Especially working with children requires certain sensitivity. The mosquito acts out of its innate tendency to survive and procreate and it is important for children to learn the same too.

Any other experience about the project you would like to share with us?

The project holds a special place for the main reason that for the first time, I got to explore skills I hadn't explored before. It pushed me to work outside my comfort zone and I learnt the most during this time.
Contact: shibassheikh@gmail.com