Check out the cover for a new picture book by Cynsations own Suma Subramaniam, My Name Is Long As A River, illustrated by Tara Anand, due out from Penguin Workshop on May 28, 2024. From the publisher’s description:
In this sweeping picture book, an Indian girl discovers the power of her name as she travels along the river she was named after.
What’s so special about your name?
Kaveri Thanjavur Jayalakshmi Ganesan doesn’t think there is anything special about her very long name—in fact, she would prefer to be called “Kav.” But Paati reminds Kaveri that her name was inspired by her family’s heritage, where she was born, and the powerful river they journey across for the Pushkaram Festival. Along the way, Kaveri’s eyes and heart are opened to the beauty and magic her name holds.
Through Suma Subramaniam’s lyrical and tender writing and Tara Anand’s radiant illustrations, My Name Is Long as a River offers messages of cultural pride, self-confidence, and empowerment.
Suma’s reflection: The inspiration for My Name Is Long As A River came from my own family.
The name of the main character in the story is Kaveri Thanjavur Jayalakshmi Ganesan. Pronunciation guide: (KA-VEY-ree thun-JAV-oor jay-ya-luck-sh-mee guh-nay-sun)
Kaveri would have been the name of my child if I had one. It is also my husband’s great grandmother’s name and the name of the river that connects our families’ ancestral origins. Thanjavur is a city in South India where our elders lived for many years. Jayalakshmi is my other name that is primarily used for special ceremonies. It’s also my husband’s grandmother’s as well as my grandmothers’ name. Ganesan is my grandfather’s name.
A name when pronounced correctly is a comforting feeling to everyone involved. That is what we all need—a little comfort. It is like seeing a friendly face. Or the sound of a familiar and well-loved piece of music. Something to let one know that even though some names may seem long or difficult to say, they can be embraced with a little bit of practice. And for children, nothing could be more self-boosting and reassuring than holding a piece of history and the warmth of their families inside them.
I hope this book helps readers recognize the importance and beauty of names.
Suma Subramaniam’s interests in writing for children are centered around STEM/STEAM related topics as well as India and Indian heritage. When she’s not recruiting by day or writing by night, she’s volunteering for We Need Diverse Books and SCBWI or blogging about children’s books.
Her picture books include, Namaste is a Greeting, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (Candlewick, 2022), She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used her Voice for Change, illustrated by Shreya Gupta (FSG Books, 2022), and The Runaway Dosa, illustrated by Parvati Pillai (Little Bee Books, 2023). Suma is also the contributing author of The Hero Next Door middle-grade anthology (Penguin Random House, 2019) and What is Hope? poetry anthology (Pomelo Books, 2023) .
Her poems have been published in Poetry Foundation’s first Young People’s Poetry Edition of Poetry Magazine. She lives in Seattle with her family and a dog who watches baking shows. Learn more at https://sumasubramaniam.com.
Tara Anand is an illustrator and visual artist from Bombay, India, based in New York City. She graduated from School of Visual Arts in 2022 and has since worked on editorial and children’s book projects. She works primarily in gouache and loves to read in her spare time. Learn more at taraanandart.com.