A New Frontier

Published on: 30 November 2017 Author: Sophia Whitfield

Sophia WhitfieldBack in 2002 when we started out as a small independent publisher we began with the ethos to inspire, educate and uplift. It is this ethos that I go back to when selecting books to publish. Every picture book and middle grade fiction title has to align with our goal at the inception of the company.

As the mother of five children, one with additional needs, the books I select echo observations of children at home and in the classroom. Inclusion and diversity are at the heart of many of the books we publish.

Jessica's Box is a book that was sent directly to us by an unpublished author. Peter Carnavas submitted a finished copy, complete with illustrations. The book was released in the UK this year and portrays with depth a child struggling on her first day of school. With little text Peter Carnavas deftly shows how Jessica embarks on the challenge of finding new friends.

Jessica's Box

As inclusion is important to us we had been in conversations with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Australia for some time. They were keen to publish a book that reflected a child with a disability starting school but had been unable to find the right text. Together we were hoping to publish a book that was not heavy handed or one that focused on disability, but rather one that told a story that could appeal to any child. So in patnership with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in Australia we created a new edition of Jessica's Box that features Jessica in a wheelchair. None of the text has been changed but a few of the illustrations were adapted for the new edition.

Jessica's Box

Feedback tells us that the book offers all young readers a powerful message about self-worth, friendship, including others and making newcomers feel welcome. The impact of this message is even more meaningful in this Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition, where Jessica is in a wheelchair, sharing the message about including and accepting others but without reference to the fact that she is a child with a disability.

When I asked author Peter Carnavas why he submitted this book to us he said it was our ethos, and as a result his book sits perfectly within our list.

Next year we have two more exciting picture books that focus on inclusion. Round Fish Square Bowl takes a positive spin on being different. Cliches such as the clumsiness of a 'bull in a china-shop' are neatly turned around to be positive and desirable traits. The book ends with the words: 'So, don't think you are not fitting in, celebrate being different!' And shouldn't we all? This is author Tom Skinner's debut picture book and has resonated in classrooms already in Australia.

We are always excited to work with new talent and next year we will be launching debut picture books for six new authors. In her book Lucia and Lawrence first time author and illustrator Joanna Francis tells the tale of two quite different children, one is creative and the other analytical. She shows how - through compromise and play - two children find a way to become firm friends, irrespective of any differences.

Lucia & Lawrence

Working with authors and illustrators is a joy. It is especially thrilling to watch an author's career progress, from the first book to their twentieth book. We published Nicola Connelly's first book My Dad Is a Bear and are delighted to be publishing her second book Is It the Way You Giggle?. Annie White has illustrated both books and beautifully draws on the diversity that was so important to Nicola. You will have to wait until 2018 for this one.

Is it the Way You Giggle?

We are delighted that our list continues to expand with our core values visible throughout our picture book and middle grade fiction lists. As we look ahead to next year we will continue to represent our ethos, with the addition of a new imprint for babies, toddlers and early learners We look forward to sharing all our new books with young readers around the country as we continue to expand our list with the view to representing all children.

More Like This

Bookmark: books and disability

Information on disability and children's books

Find advice and book recommendations for families, teachers, librarians, authors and publishers.

Books with positive images of disability

Take a look at our booklist

These are 12 books that we think show positive images of disability, as well as titles that may prove useful in discussing disability and diversity.



Find your child's next great read!