Hi Chitra and Poonam! We have loved your earlier collaborations – ‘You’re Safe With Me’ and ‘You’re Snug With Me’ – so we were really excited to discover your new title ‘You’re Strong With Me’. They are such heart-warming stories and the illustrations are unlike anything I’ve seen in a children’s book before.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves, in case we have any readers who are unfamiliar with your stories?
CHITRA SOUNDAR: I was born in India, and moved to the UK about a decade and half ago. I’ve written over 30 books for children, published across Asia, Europe and North America. I’ve been a teacher, programmer and a manager before I became a full-time writer.
We were lucky enough to meet the lovely Chitra Soundar at an event at Moon Lane Ink last year so I was very happy when Lantana Publishing invited us to be part of the book tour for her newest title – You’re Strong With Me.
This is the third book in a trilogy, all of which feature beautiful illustrations from Poonam Mistry. The previous books in the series are You’re Safe With Me and You’re Snug With Me and each one focuses on the wonderful bond between parent and child.
In this story we follow a mother giraffe and her calf through a day in the wild. The little giraffe encounters many things which make her scared or uncomfortable, like a hissing fire and a bird which pecks at her fur, but her mother is always there to reassure and comfort her.
When Agu spots a little girl called Sam playing in a tree he sees an opportunity to make a friend. He is new to the country but so far all of his attempts at friendship have failed. Poor Agu is heartbroken when Sam says she doesn’t want to play because she doesn’t know him. Why is making friends so hard?
He watches as Sam pretends to be a pirate amongst the gnarled bows of the old tree. She sings of her adventures but when she mentions stealing diamonds from Nigeria Agu steps in. He tells her there are no diamonds there, and he knows because this is where he comes from. Intrigued, Sam asks him what else he knows and just like that the door of friendship starts to open. Agu tells her all about his former home and slowly they start to play. Soon they are sailing together on the breeze, fighting pirates and searching for seashells.
This evening we are extremely excited to be sharing our thoughts on a brand new book from Lantana Publishing as part of the official #oldmanofthesea bookstagram tour.
This beautifully illustrated story looks at the quiet relationship between a boy and his ailing grandfather. Every Sunday they sit together and talk or share a comfortable silence, until one day the Grandfather decides the time has come to share tales of his life with the boy. And what a life!
Grandpa was a sailor who circumnavigated the world and fell in love with each continent he discovered. He picnicked in olive groves with Europe, climbed sand dunes with Africa, explored temples with Asia and went diving with Oceania. The love he felt for these lands was strong, but not as strong as the lure of the sea. Eventually he always found himself back in his boat in search of a new adventure.
When night falls in the Indian forest it is time for the baby animals to go to sleep. However on this particular evening a storm is brewing and the noises make the little ones afraid. Suddenly the forest is full of unfamiliar noises and their imaginations run wild. The trees are swooshing, the wind is howling, lightening is flashing and thunder rolls in the sky.
Fortunately Mama Elephant is there to calm their fears. Each time they are woken by a noise she gives a lovely description of what is happening and why. For example the wind huffs and puffs because it is tired from all the hard work it has been doing gathering seeds from faraway lands and bringing them to the forest. She finishes each little story with a soft whisper of “You’re safe with me”.
One day little Kaya stumbles across her mother meditating. She is also humming an unfamiliar tune which Kaya finds fascinating. When she asks what it is her mother explains that it is her heart song – the song which her heart sings when she is happy.
Kaya would very much like a heart song of her own but she doesn’t know how to find it so instead she goes out to play. She follows a butterfly in to the jungle and there she finds an old man guarding a broken-down elephant carousel.
Drawn to the elephants, Kaya climbs on top of one to try and free it from some vines. She imagines what it would be like to be a beautiful princess riding the elephant through the jungle and suddenly she hears the soft beat of music in her ear.