Violet is usually a cheerful, bubbly little girl but right now she feels a little lost. She’s recently discovered that she will be playing one of the lead roles in her school play and she’s plagued with worry. Learning the lines isn’t a problem for her but she’s really nervous about public speaking. What if she messes up? What if she freezes? What if everyone laughs at her?
As Violet’s emotions swirl, her family and friends surround her with love and support. Her grandmother provides cuddles and patiently sews her a costume, her uncles suggest ways she could feel more confident on stage, and her teacher calmly and quietly reassures her at every rehearsal. Everyone knows she is capable of doing a fantastic job but all Violet feels is doubt. Why did they choose her? Why didn’t they select someone ‘better’?
Here is another great pick for Pride Month – The Pirate Mums by Jodie Lancet-Grant and Lydia Corry. It’s a swashbuckling adventure about pirates, the high seas and slightly embarrassing parents.
Billy’s family is a little bit different and sometimes this can be hard. He worries a lot about what his friends might think and sometimes just wishes his parents were a tad more ‘normal’. Why? Well his two mums have a penchant for all things piratey. They sing sea shanties all day long, they take their pet parrot for walks, they decorate the house with fishing nets and insist on using smelly old maps. They are SO EMBARRASSING!
When Billy’s teacher announces that the class will be going on a trip to the seaside and taking a boat ride, naturally his mums volunteer to help. The little boy is mortified because he knows his friends will make fun of their pirate-led fashion sense and their fondness for words like matey, scallywag and buccaneer.
June is Pride Month in the UK – the perfect time for the publication of Nen and the Lonely Fisherman, an LGBTQ+ reimagining of The Little Mermaid.
Nen the Merman loves his ocean home but deep down he knows that something is missing. He’s not quite sure what he’s looking for but he starts to explore the world above the waves, singing soulfully of the yearning he feels in his heart.
One day Nen’s song is heard by Ernest, a lonely fisherman, and suddenly everything clicks into place. The two quickly realise they have a very special connection and are filled with a sense of hope for the future.
Established in early 2020, Formy Books is an independent family-run publisher, with a passion for own voices children’s books. Formy Books is dedicated to delivering striking children’s books by Black creators from across the diaspora.
Here, Co-Founder Ebony Lyon reflects on the importance of accurate representation in children’s books and tells us how Formy Books seeks to positively depict the richness of Black culture in the stories which they publish.
“Children need to see themselves reflected back from the books they read, yes. However we must ensure that the reflections are accurate, not distorted.
In her seminal essay, Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Doors, Rudine Sims Bishop Stated “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a valuable lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.”
On an ordinary day, in an ordinary park, a little boy called Joe is playing pirates. As he leans over the edge of his ship and waves his trusty sword in the faces of imaginary (moustached!) sharks, he is interrupted by a shout from another child. “YOU’VE ONLY GOT ONE LEG!” she yells – and just like that, Joe’s game is ruined.
It’s clear that the girl hasn’t seen anyone with a missing limb before and she has a lot of questions. She wants to know where the leg is and she’s determined to get some answers. Soon other children join in and they each try to guess what has happened to Joe. Did his leg fall off? Was it stolen by a burglar? Was it eaten by a lion?
For the group of children, the fact that Joe has one leg seems extraordinary, but for Joe this is his everyday reality. He’s perfectly aware he only has one leg but he doesn’t want to talk about it all the time and he certainly doesn’t want to talk about it in the middle of a game of pirates. There are sharks to defeat and crocodiles to vanquish!
“No boy is an island and the bravest way to face problems is to talk and to listen.”
‘The Girls‘ by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie is one of our all-time favourite children’s books. It celebrates female friendship in such a relatable way and instantly made me want to buy copies for all of my childhood friends. When I shared my review back in 2018 the response was universal – we need this for boys too! It’s been a long time coming but ‘The Boys’ is finally here, and it is everything I hoped it would be.
The story is about four boys who are as close as brothers. Rey, Nattie, Bobby and Tam spend much of their childhood playing on their favourite beach under the watchful eyes of their mothers (who will look very familiar to you if you have read The Girls!). Each boy is very different but together they make a phenomenal team. The foursome build sandcastles, fly kites, learn how to swim and gather to tell stories around the campfire. Their worlds are completely entwined and they revel in each others company.
Little Tess has grown up surrounded by warmth and affection. She adores her family and, because they are never apart, love follows her like a warm scarf wherever she goes.
When it’s time for Tess to start school she is nervous because her family can’t come with her. She’s never had to do anything by herself before and she is worried that she will be seperated from her family’s love. Her mother explains that love is like a string which connects them even when they are apart. It can stretch really far and it won’t ever, ever break.
Tess isn’t sure about this theory but as she enters the school she starts to see little threads of love everywhere. Each child has a string just like hers and one boy even has a string which reaches right up to the sky, connecting him to the father which he lost when he was small. Reassured by this, Tess settles into her day and we even see a new thread start to grow between the little girl and her teacher.
In part 2 of our ‘Meet the Publisher’ series, diverse and inclusive ‘Lantana Publishing’ tells us how they got started, what they aim to achieve and which books you need to watch out for in 2021.
“Lantana Publishing was founded in 2014 by Alice Curry when she realised her mixed-race nephew would not be able to see himself in books. ‘Where are all the books about children of colour?’ she asked as she scanned bookshop and library shelves. From this question sprung the mission at the heart of Lantana: books should reflect the lives of all children, not just a few. Because ALL children deserve to see themselves in the books they read.
We are very proud to be an award-winning independent children’s publisher and social enterprise publishing inclusive books celebrating every kind of child and family.Today, Lantana is an all-female team committed to opening up a space for new and exciting voices from around the world and bringing their words to life with beautiful artwork from brilliant illustrators.
In the middle of a war-torn city a garden grows. It’s surrounded by devastation, but within these four walls there are trees and herbs, vegetables and flowers, and most importantly there is hope.
Every day Zara tends to her plants, helped by the local children, and when the work is done they climb trees and build dens. Outside the war looms, but the garden gives them the freedom to play and to shake off their worries for a short while. They pick flowers to brighten up their homes and bring baskets of fruit to their friends in hospital.
As the conflict increases their focus turns to mending the things in the garden which have been broken, but eventually the danger is too great and they are forced to leave the city behind.
When the war is finally over the families return to what is left of their homes. As Zara unocks the gate to her precious garden her anticipation rises. What will she find within those four walls?
Jake is bored and more than a little gloomy. As he sits at home staring out of the window into the cold grey street he longs for colour and excitement – but where can he find it? He twirls his globe and finds himself wondering what life is like on the other side of the world.
Feeling inspired, Jake heads out into the garden and starts to dig a hole with his bare hands. If he digs deep enough then surely he can tunnel right through the earth and pop up in the southern hemisphere.
As Jake digs something wonderful starts to happen. First a little girl appears with a spoon and asks if she can help, then a boy arrives with a toy digger. Soon the garden is full of children all working together to help Jake on his quest – but how far will they get?