Monika Singh Gangotra is the author of Sunflower Sisters, a powerful picture book which tackles colourism in the South Asian community. Here she talks about her own experiences and why it’s important for children to have access to books about difficult topics.
“Colourism is an issue that has followed me throughout my whole life and continues to do so to ALL South Asians in some way. With a deep-rooted history related to colonialism and caste, colourism has become incredibly engrained in the way South Asians view beauty and success. South Asian pop culture is saturated in colourism and our exposure and ideology is incredibly high. As I began to work in the beauty industry, what I was taught to believe about what is beautiful became incongruent with what I saw and felt for myself. And I wanted to create change. I feel social change is incredibly powerful through children and it is our responsibility as adults to help steer them in the direction of love.
Sarah Dennis is an award-winning paper artist and illustrator whose work combines traditional paper-cutting techniques with collage. An extraordinary artistic talent, Sarah has previously worked with BBC Four, Tatler, The Guardian and Gosh Arts.
Since 2015, Sarah has teamed up with small-but-mighty UK children’s publisher b small publishing to create a series of beautifully intricate search and find books – ANIMAL CAMOUFLAGE, FOOD CHAINS: WHO EATS WHAT? and ENDANGERED ANIMALS. Alongside Sarah’s illustrations, these three books contain essential facts and knowledge about animals, the environment, and the beautiful natural world around us.
Here, Sarah tells us a little about the process behind her work!
Georgina Durrant is a private tutor for children with special educational needs and the author of ‘100 Ways Your Child Can Learn Through Play’. Here she talks about the importance of play and how families can use it to help children develop new skills.
“Over the course of the pandemic there’s been a lot of concern over children, in particular those with Special Educational Needs, missing out academically and whilst this may be true, I strongly believe that we need also to focus on the fact that children have also missed out on play. Playing with friends, playing outside, playing with grandparents, playing at their friend’s house…the list goes on. And whilst play might be seen as something trivial it’s actually imperative for children’s well-being and their development of important skills. I’d go as far as saying that for young children, play is learning.
Play is everything, it’s squishing play dough and in turn developing those important fine motor skills that help them learn how to write. It’s walking and balancing on that fallen log in the park and learning how to take risks and finesse their gross motor skills. And it’s falling out with a friend over who has the best sequins for their craft and learning those really important social skills and language/communication skills.
Looking for something your kids can get their teeth stuck into over the summer hols?
Henley Literary Festival is running a creative competition for budding authors & illustrators aged 4-11 with the opportunity to win fab prizes!
Here’s what Harriet Reed-Ryan, the Event Director for Henley Literary Festival, told us about the event and the competition…..
This October, Henley Literary Festival is returning with an exciting children’s line-up jam-packed with fun events for children of all ages to enjoy.
This year’s festival features authors and illustrators including Sir Michael Morpurgo, Rob Biddulph, Serena Patel, Clare Balding, Joe Wicks, David Melling, Liz Pichon and many more. From storytellings to writing workshops, space detectives to rapping princesses, there is something for everyone.
If you can’t wait until the autumn, Henley Literary Festival is hosting a fantastic Creative Competition for children aged 4 – 11, designed to get imaginative brains whirring.
Taking inspiration from the magical Henley Literary Festival programme cover, illustrated by one of this year’s festival authors Chris Riddell, budding writers are encouraged to write a story or poem of up to 500 words. For all the artists out there, there is an illustration competition too!
On July 8th, 2021 Buster Books will be celebrating a big birthday! Here, Publicity Manager Alice Furse looks back on the last 20 years and gives us a sneak peek at some upcoming titles.
Buster Books was founded in 2001, the children’s imprint of independent and family-run publishing house, Michael O’Mara Books Limited. Since the beginning, the focus has always been publishing books that children would love to pick up and enjoy reading, and this has been the beating heart of Buster ever since – poo jokes and unicorns abound!
Early success came from spotting the unicorn craze. Where’s the Unicorn? is now a classic search-and-find title and has sold just over 680k copies while the fascinating mythology and stunningly beautiful illustrations behind The Magical Unicorn Society have captured the imaginations of young readers everywhere.
My typical working routine has changed enormously over the past year. Part of this is down to all the recent restrictions, but also because my youngest child left home in September and we started house renovations in February.
In the normal world, my days would include a mixture of working from home, travelling to schools and libraries to run workshops, and the occasional trip to London for meetings and socials.
But these days there are no journeys or jollies and all my visits have gone virtual. So here’s a flavour of how life has been for this author during the last 14 months.
My day starts around 7.15 with a cup of tea in bed from my lovely husband.
Hello Ian! Thank you so much for chatting to me about your debut book ‘Nen and the Lonely Fisherman.
Could you give us a little overview of what the book is about?
At its heart, Nen and the Lonely Fisherman is about hope and finding that someone special in your life. Nen spends his days exploring his underwater kingdom, but is lonely and wants more from his life. He ventures to the surface and meets a lonely, quiet fisherman who spends his days looking after the beaches. But Nen’s father, Pelagios, is furious that his son is spending so much time with a human – humans are destroying his precious oceans. So, he creates a terrifying sea storm and Ernest is thrown into the waves. Can Nen save him and can they convince Pelagios that two people from two very different worlds can be together?
Hello Kate! Thank you so much for chatting to me about your new book ‘Edmund The Elephant Who Forgot’. Could you give us a quick overview of what the book is about?
Edmund is a little different from other elephants in that he’s quite forgetful. And so, when his mother sends him to the shop to collect things for his brother’s birthday party, his ears wiggle with worry. Equipped with a little memory song to sing, he makes his way around town with hilariously disastrous results. There is a hidden message that good can come from even the trickiest of situations!
What inspired you to write this story?
I’m a big collector of notebooks! And whenever an idea, be it a title, funny word, or character’s name pops into my head, I have to scribble it down there and then. One day I think I was joking about elephants never forgetting and Edmund’s little memory song just popped in my head; the story just unfolded from there.
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.”