There’s a brand new series that we have been working on that we have been getting really excited about internally, and I’ve been holding back talking about. Ireland has transformed itself within the last ten years from an essentially mono-ethnic country to one that is very culturally diverse. It’s been a very rapid change and, thankfully, has been pretty smooth. However, there is still a huge education process that needs to take place across society about how this new Ireland is going to work, particularly given the Current Economic Climate.

Chang Ming wants to stay in Ireland and play football: not visit his grandmother in China.

So we decided that it would be great to produce a series of illustrated children’s books that deal with these issues, but not in a preachy way: understanding, communication, integration, friendship etc. We have worked with four great authors and the wonderful people at the Cartoon Saloon and they are nearing completion. The books are (in no particular order) The Romanian Builder, Olanna’s Big Day, I Won’t Go To China and The Dreaming Tree.

TheRomanianBuilder-Lores12Getting from concept to finished book has been extremely complex and rewarding: the stories had to be good and engaging, the illustration has to merge seemlessly and enhance the story, while adding subtle cultural elements that would encourage the reader to think more about the different races, ethnicities and issues in the books (in addition to Romania and China, which are in the titles, Olanna is from Nigeria while Roberto is Brazilian). Of course, we then had to ensure that the images thus produced were examined by people who knew what they were doing to check for cultural gaffes — they simply have to be right!

So they are not finished yet, but we are sure they are going to be beautiful, fun to read and lots of fun to look at … more later, when they are ready to hit the shelves!