The reasoning for this book echoes a thought voiced by activist, George Monbiot, in his article for The Guardian: that a generation disconnected from nature will not strive to save it. It is an unsettling premise that deepens with the fact that childhoods spent immersed in nature, especially within urban communities, are rapidly declining. “Without a feel for the texture and function of the natural world...,” Monbiot explains, “... without an intensity of engagement almost impossible in the absence of early experience, people will not devote their lives to its protection.”
Believing this to be a loss with environmental and human consequences, we set out to bring the two together creatively. Hidden Kingdom is a book of illustrations set to rhyme on native flora from the Western Ghats—a region of southern India that stood as the wild backdrop for many of our own youthful adventures. Intended for ages eight and above, our hope is that an appreciation for the subject matter is universal, and equally insightful to adults as parents and individuals (i.e. fully grown children!)
Our team comprises four complementary skill sets. Nirupa Rao is a botanical illustrator, who utilises her position at the intersection of science and art as an inroad for her audience to recognises our natural wealth. Siddarth Machado is a botanical researcher, who with great care selected the species featured in this book, not unlike a parent asked to pick favourites amongst his brood. Prasenjeet Yadav is a science and conservation photographer, who artfully documented most of our species for the website. Suniti Rao is a brand director who co-wrote the book with Nirupa; her speciality lies in articulating complex information.
While a number of children’s books centred on Indian fauna exist, our attempt to champion plants is to reveal a fascinating kingdom of irreplaceable value, often hidden in plain sight.
Treat this website as a companion to the book, to ease you out of the magical realm of discovery and back into the world of the living. Further resources are available here, should you feel the urge to really sink your teeth.