Happy Saturday! We are super jazzed to feature a great publisher that we’re totally in love with: UK-based Parakeet Books! It’s been a minute since we’ve been able to feature someone for Sound Off Saturday, and these are the perfect humans to start the series back up again with. Hope everyone is having a good day, and that you are able to take a look at the literature-world-shaking that these two powerhouses are up to 🙂
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organisation!
Parakeet Books: Hello! We are Sheju John and Judy Skidmore of Parakeet Books. All our books are diverse and inclusive, all our books are feature stories. We write children’s tales and adventures where the main characters are people of colour, or they have disabilities, or girls are the heroes, or they feature LGBTQ+ families. We’ve both worked in other industries for a while and after we had our children (now 2 aged and 5) we really wanted to make diverse books for them that reflect the world around them. The more we searched in the book shops, online and in the library, the more we found that diverse books featuring people with black and brown skin just aren’t there. So we make our own and we decided to bring in us much diversity as we can – starting with us.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
PK: Equality. We always knew we wanted to be part of positive change. We recycle and do our best for society and the planet. Then we had kids and this publishing company just … popped out of us! We are the only publishing company that pledge to create 100% diverse and inclusive books. So far our books feature main characters who are people of colour, girls as heroes, gender neutral characters, and LGBTQ+ families. In the pipeline we are creating books with main characters with differing abilities or disabilities. And crucially. The books are good! They focus on rip-roaring tales, and cosy family adventures for all children. We also showcase other authors and illustrators making diverse books so if people are looking for recommendations they might want to head over to our insta feed.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
PK: We just finished a collaboration with a local primary school to create an alphabet book made entirely from the school children’s work. It is a sideways take on the usual ABC book with stories, poems, tongue twisters and drawings all inspired by the letters of the alphabet. The children’s creativity and innovation have blown us away. It is a joyful, proud and touching book.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
PK: Buy our books for your family and friends and share our posts on social media. Join our No Outsiders campaign to get LGBT families represented in every school room. Leave reviews on Amazon. Aaaand if you are a book publicist or book distributer and like what we do, please get in touch because we are ready to for distribution.
TTA: What book was your favourite in 2019 so far?
PK: We’re in love with Swami on Rye. We liked the look of it and Sheju’s oldest friend is called Swami! The hero, Max goes off on a wild search for the meaning of life that takes him to India, where he visits the Temple of Doubletalk, meets a chatty guru named Vivek Shabaza-zaza-za, and has other adventures. It is totally surreal. And we’re cheating because it turns out this books came out in 1995 – but it only came to us in 2019! We also bought Under the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell and Alison Colpoys – it is sumptuous to look at and moving to read. The book features all different kinds of families and we got it from London’s only gay Book Shop – Gay’s the Word. Gay’s the Word also stock our book, Eve’s New Brother, which makes us wildly proud.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
PK: Making another book, collaborating with schools and children – they have the best ideas, it’s a blast.