If any of you are in London this Saturday – May 11th, 2013 – and looking for a way to spend a very happy few hours with some very exciting people from the world of radical children’s literature, then I suggest you head down to the London Radical Bookfair at Conway Hall.
Not only is this event free and open to all, but will there be a whole host of authors, illustrators and booksellers there to inspire you and share their passion for the thriving world of radical bookselling in the UK. Since I’ve started blogging about books and reading (and spending even more time on Twitter chatting about them) I’ve been lucky enough to come across people who are absolutely committed to making children’s books as inclusive as possible and, cheesy though it sounds, I am learning from them all the time.
There’s far too much to go into in this post, but I now think so much more how each character is represented within a story (both in pictures and in words) and am increasingly aware of those groups of people who may feel under-represented in books. In my meanderings on the subject in other posts, I’m sure I’ve
paraphrased the statement made by the wonderful ‘Inclusive Minds’
, whose aim is that every child should be able to see themselves in a book.
One of the best ways to help make this happen is to highlight all the amazing stuff that’s happening in the world of radical bookselling (and here the word’s being used to include, “… books informed by inclusive/anti-discriminatory concerns or those which promote social equality or social justice”) and to celebrate it with gusto, which is exactly what’s happening this weekend. The Little Rebel’s Children’s Book Award has been set up to show the world the best of the best in terms of inclusive children’s books. The award (the winner of which will be announced at 4pm on Saturday, May 11th, at the book fair) is being adminstered by the totally splendiferous Letterbox Library
– radical booksellers extraordinaire!
The Little Rebels shortlist
The shortlisted books all look brilliant (more details, courtesy of Letterbox Library, below). Of the four, I’ve only read ‘…Barnaby Brocket’, but I am itching to get my hands on the other three…
- ‘Azzi In Between’ by Sarah Garland
A short graphic novel which details one family’s escape from a country at war and their adjustment to life in a new country. Based on the author’s experiences among refugee families. Endorsed by Amnesty International UK. Ages 7-11.
- ‘Hans and Matilda’ by Yokococo
Described as a “feline Jekyll and Hyde adventure” by the publisher, this simple picture book with bold artwork tells the story of good Matilda and anarchic Hans…But are they so very different? Ages 3-6.
- ‘The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket’ by John Boyne, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
A chapter book for younger readers which introduces the unusual Barnaby Brocket, the terrible thing that happened to him and his fantastic odyssey around the world. A narrative about being different, being extraordinary and being happy with yourself. Age 8-12.
- ‘Wild Child’ by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Lorna Freytag
This picture book introduces Wild Child, a spirited, curious and free-loving child roaming in a magical prehistorical world. An anti-authoritarian story told through rhyming text and a fusion of photos and illustrations. Age 4-7.
Prior to the awards you can listen to Bookstart founder Wendy Cooling in conversation with Jeanne Willis and Sarah Garland at 2pm. You’ll also have the chance to chat to some genuinely lovely people: when we first learned that H needed glasses and I asked for help in finding books that would help him feel positive about this change, some of the first people to respond were Fen from Letterbox Library and Beth from Inclusive Minds. Not only did they suggest books that explicitly talked about wearing glasses, but even more helpfully they pointed me in the direction of books that featured characters wearing glasses without any comment being made about it all. It was just what I needed and the books we are slowly amassing are genuinely making a real difference to H, who now gets really excited when he sees a character in a book looking as cool as he does in his super specs 🙂
Anyway, I’m truly gutted that I can’t make it on Saturday, so I’m relying on all of you to go, have fun and report back!