We’re the Parakeet Books team: Sheju and Judy. Fed up with the same old books on offer to our own children we started to make our own. We’ve been making inclusive and diverse books for the last two years. Our vibrant, warm and entertaining stories are told through underrepresented groups – central characters who are BAME, people of colour, female or LGBT+.
Having read in cafes and schools we always find that children either don’t notice difference or they love it. The two mums in our book, Eve’s New Brother, never get questioned by our audiences, they just accept that family for what it is. But the relationship between Eve and her brother has them enthralled. In Buddy’s Pancakes they kids afterwards all want to talk about pancakes, in the Mysterious Dinosaurs of Crystal Palace they all want to talk about guess what… dinosaurs. The idea that kids books with main characters who are Black or have a disability or have same-sex parents are niche is totally bogus. It’s an adult assumption and cannot be dressed up as anything other than prejudice. The mainstream publishing world is too slow to change and now is the time for them to pick their feet up and catch up with what readers want.
Eve is very close to her two mummies, so when baby Stanley joins the family she isn’t quite sure what to expect. She hopes that he’ll play with her and share her love of trains, but she knows that babies cry a lot and she’s not looking forward to the dirty nappies!
The path they tread will be a familiar one for many parents of more than one child. Eve is initially excited about the new baby but this quickly turns to resentment as Stanley gets lots of attention for things she doesn’t deem that interesting. He can’t talk, he can’t play and he messes with her train set all the time. Eve decides that there’s only one thing for it – Stanley will have to go back to wherever he came from so that she can have her mummies back!
Then one day, Eve throws a ball and everything changes. Stanley wobbles towards it on uncertain legs, picks it up and returns it. A game! As Stanley’s ability to interact with the world grows, Eve realises that maybe there’s room in this family (and her heart) for a little brother after all.
We have recently discovered Parakeet Books – a small independent publisher whose focus is on stories which are truly inclusive – and we LOVE their ethos. Our favourite title so far is Buddy’s Pancakes, a story which will be very familiar to parents of fussy toddlers (us included!).
Buddy is a little boy who is far more interested in playing than eating. At breakfast time his dad asks him if he would like some pancakes and the answer is a resounding no.
As Buddy plays, his dad serves up food to the rest of the family and we see how everyone likes their pancakes a different way. Granny likes lemon and honey, Grandad likes blueberries, whilst Mummy prefers to have hers with slices of banana. Each time a new variation is suggested, they ask Buddy if he would like some but he always replies that he’s not hungry.