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’?
Hello Hannah! Thank you so much for chatting to me about your new book ‘Anita and the Dragons’. Could you give us a quick overview of what the book is about?
Hi Shelley and Ivy, wonderful to chat with you! Anita and the Dragons is about a young girl named Anita who lives in the Dominican Republic. She watches the planes come and go from her island, which she refers to as dragons. One day the time comes for her to face the dragons and leave the island she loves. It’s a story of bravery and finding the power within.
What inspired you to write this story?
It was inspired by my mom’s immigration story from the Dominican Republic to America when she was a child. I admire her courage to make that transition so young. She’s always led by example in showing us how to face our fears and take big steps in life.
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.
Oscar has lost a tooth and he’s worried that this will stop him from making friends. It’s tough being a skeleton at the best of times, but surely no one will want to play with him now when he looks so dreadful? Sad and lonely, Oscar resigns himself to the fact that his dog will probably be the only friend he ever has.
But then one day he spots a little girl burying a tooth in the ground. She has heard that doing so will make her dreams come true and what she wants more than anything is to find a friend. She agrees to give the tooth to Oscar if he will help her on her quest, so they join hands and set off together on an adventure.
Oscar and the girl spend the most wonderful day together, discussing what they would do if they each found a friend. The girl shows him a rainbow and her favourite meadow. They smell the cut grass and talk of family and the seaside. Then Oscar leads her in to his own world which is dark and mysterious. They watch skeletons skate on the ice and listen to a strange creature with pointy teeth play the harp.
Siba and Saba are Ugandan sisters who are a tiny bit forgetful. They leave their sweaters on buses and their sandals at the beach. They leave slippers at sleepovers and sashes on safaris. And every evening, when they go to sleep, their dreams are filled with the things they have lost.
But then one night something strange happens. Siba dreams of a silver shilling and Saba dreams of a school uniform. The girls wake in the morning feeling very confused. They have never lost these things, in fact they have never even had these things, so why have they infiltrated their dreams?
In the days that follow Siba and Saba discover that their dreams are now giving them hints of the future instead of the past. A future filled with books, knowledge, travel and adventure. A future beyond their wildest dreams.
I love language so this fantastic book of idioms makes me very happy indeed!
“Do you see a dragon?” asks a child at the start of this story. “A dragon? What dragon? I’ll believe you when pigs fly!” says his friend.
‘When Pigs Fly’ is a wonderful expression which we use in English when we think something will never happen – but what do they say in other countries to express the same sentiment? This book takes us on a little journey around the world to find out.
I won’t spoil the idioms for you as they are great fun but the countries included are the Netherlands, Spain, Nigeria, Turkey, India, the Philippines, Poland, Germany, Russia and Latvia. From whistling lobsters and upside down crows through to ice-dancing cows and tree-climbing fish, this eclectic and slightly bonkers collection of phrases is guaranteed to have your child laughing out loud.
Afiya is a little girl with a very special white dress. As she explores the world around her, little snapshots of her environment and her experiences imprint themselves on the fabric like memories.
When she walks through a field of roses, her dress looks like a beautiful bunch of flowers. When she goes to the zoo, her dress takes the form of leaping tigers. And when she visits the sea, the dress looks like a pool of sparkling fishes.
Every night the dress is washed so that each day starts with a fresh ‘canvas’ but Afiya holds on to each precious moment.
Written by the late James Berry OBE, an award-winning Jamaican poet, and illustrated by outstanding Brazillian artist Anna Cunha, this whimsical story is absolutely breathtaking. Afiya is such a joyful character and I love the fact that we can see her collecting childhood memories with the help of her favourite piece of clothing.
Reading this book with Ivy feels a little like meditation. The gentle words and muted colours calm us both, making it perfect for a snuggly read at the end of the day.
The gentle rhyme asks us to take time to be still and to observe the world around us. Listen to bird song. Feel the beat of your cat’s heart as it purrs. Look at the vastness of the sky and the stars. Listen to the waves as they lap the shore. It also encourages us to look deeply at each other and to find new ways to be kind and to cherish those around us.
The text is minimal but the illustrations speak a thousand words. Each double page spread shows a child from a different country observing their environment and there is so much detail to explore and discuss. We see diferent types of clothes and modes of transport, cultural traditions and breathtaking landscapes. The countries included are the UK, Alaska, Ecuador, Norway, Russia, Egypt, Tanzania, India, Nepal, China and Japan, so the range is really broad.
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.