Tag Archives: adventures

Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Kai and the Monkey King [released 10/22]

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton

For ages: 5-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Adventure, Mythology, Family, Love, Women Adventurers, Single Mother Families. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by Flying Eye Books, Nobrow in the UK, but all opinions are our own!  This book is part of the larger Brownstone’s collection, and the illustrations are incredible!

Kai and her mother Wen are adventurers, traveling there world helping people.  When the pair are in a village visited by a destructive monster once a year, Wen and Kai head straight to the library.  Soon, Kai gets bored and decides to solve the problem herself by freeing the Monkey King to help defeat the monster.  After the Monkey King is freed, he has a few things to take care of before helping Kai.  After getting chased by monsters when Kai tries to help the Monkey King gather immortal peaches, she gets frustrated and he leaves her on a cliff.  Returning home, Kai sees her mother defending the village from the monster all by herself!  Rushing to help, Kai hopes the Monkey King will also come back and help but she is disappointed.  It is up to Kai and Wen to save the village!  Can they?

This is a great book that weaves in an original story and mythology.  Having the two main characters be women adventurers is an amazing breath of fresh air.  The way the illustrations wend their way through the book is reminiscent of a comic book, but with larger panels.  This is the only book in the Brownstone’s series that we have read so far, but we absolutely plan on getting more of them!

Reflection Questions:

  • What adventure of Kai’s would you like to have gone on?
  • Do you think Wen spends too much time in the library?
  • What do you believe Kai thinks?
  • Would you have freed the Monkey King?

About the Author & Illustrator:

Headshot_BW_croppedJoe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.

To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:

What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.

Deadendia: The Broken Halo [released 10/17]

Written & Illustrated by: Hamish Steele

For ages: YA middle & upper grades (2 vaguely implied sexual situations)

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Neurodivergent Characters, LGBTQ, Supernatural, Friendship, Graphic Novels, Adventure, Love, Family, Acceptance. 

Summary: This graphic novel is the next installment in the series!  We were sent this book by the publisher, Flying Eye Books, (Nobrow in the UK) but all opinions are our own.

We really liked this book, and the diverse cast of characters can’t be beat.  Norma is an autistic POC queer character, Barney is trans, and Badyah is Muslim.  Besides this badass trio, there are a range of demons and angels all vying for control of the 7th neutral plane also known as earth.  Because of previous events, Norma’s soul won’t stay in her body when she’s surprised.  This is both helpful and aggravating as tensions mount between demons and angels.  Barney is hiding a secret career from his boyfriend though, but it’s very lucrative. Norma and Badyah along with some demons are working overtime at the Dead End, a haunted house during the day and demon B&B at night.  We don’t want to give too much about this graphic novel away, but it’s incredible and Corrie had to start reading it right away! It would be helpful to read the first volume before this one, but not necessary.  There are a lot of references to past events but enough context to provide the reader of this volume backstory.  We can’t wait to see what happens next, it’s an amazing series with awesome representation!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Screen-Shot-2018-01-01-at-21.35.01_3_400From the website of Hamish: My name is Hamish Ridley-Steele and I’m a Animation Director and Comic-Book artist from London. Soon after graduating, I directed Dead End, a short for Frederator Studio’s Cartoon Hangover. This lead to me directing two films for Nickelodeon’s International Shorts program, the second of which I collaborated on with Blink Industrieswho now represent me.

In 2014, I self-published my first graphic novel Pantheon thanks to Kickstarter. Since then, it has been republished by Nobrow Press. This year, they will also publish my webcomic DeadEndia which is based on that first Cartoon Hangover short.  I really like crocodiles. My dream is to meet one.

Footprints in the Snow

Written by: Annahita De La Mare

Illustrated by: Jennifer Kirkham

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Girls Outdoors, Family, Love, Friendship, Adventure.

Summary: We have arrived at the most recent-but hopefully not final-installment of the Hot Air Balloon Adventure story!  Alice, Hannah, and Rosie are discussing plans over breakfast one morning and grandma has a great idea, to take the balloon to the mountains and splitboard the day away!  A splitboard is like a snowboard, but you can go uphill too.  This sounds like a fantastic way to spend the day outdoors, and every sets off, including Roger the cat.  The group quickly reaches Iceland, and enjoy their time spent up, down, and all around the mountains on their splitboards.  However, after some hot chocolate, the girls discover that their backpack is missing and in its place are massive footprints!  Being the leaders that they are, the cousins follow the path and end up at a cave.  Calling into the darkness, the trio is greeted by a large Yeti named Fred!  Fred took the backpack because he really needed one, but his smile is so scary that whenever he goes into town to buy one everyone runs away.  Alice, Rosie, and Hannah assure Fred that they don’t judge anyone by appearances and help him learn to smile a little less scarily.  The group glides down the mountain and into town so Fred can buy his very own backpack.

This, like all the others have adorable illustrations that capture the fun that these cousins have together while being explorers.  The trio love the outdoors and are kind to every creature they come into contact with.  We can’t wait to see what other adventures these lovely characters get into next!

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Fred feels that everyone is afraid of him?
  • How have you helped someone learn a new skill?
  • Why is it important to get to know someone before you judge them, and what they might be like?
  • The girls love to be outside and play sports, what do you like to do?
  • Do you think you would like to go on an adventure with Hannah, Alice, and Rosie?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

6493d270391e0a1200478445f53f5c73_originalWe were lucky enough to interview Annahita earlier this summer!  Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Hi! My name is Annahita, I was born in the UK to an Iranian mother and Welsh father. I moved to Switzerland 11 years ago to be live with my German husband, and together we have two girls (5 and 6 years old) who haven’t got a clue if they are Swiss, German or British 🙂

TTA: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about naturally inclusive children’s books. I believe that fear and prejudice grow out of a lack of knowledge and exposure, and I feel that books are a wonderful way to broaden children’s minds, and introduce them to topics or people that they may not necessarily come across in their daily lives. I also believe that girls should be FAR better represented in children’s books. They need more inspiring role models in positive fictional stories that they can go to sleep dreaming about.

I am also working on re-writes of the traditional princess fairy tales, trying to keep the original magic and delight of the original stories, but just changing silly storylines being all about meeting a prince and getting married. In all of my books I ensure that the characters in the story are a mixture of skin colours, because I believe it’s important not just for children of colour to see themselves in the pages of books, but for white children to see themselves in the pages of books, alongside children of colour with equally important roles in the stories.

Here is some information from her successful Kickstarter campaign:

“My children have been given many books about great women from history over this past year. It’s wonderful to see so many stories of strong and diverse women on the bookshelves. Some publishers have even tried to make versions relevant to younger audiences by reducing the text and using more illustrations. But these stories are still filled with themes which are hard to explain to young children, such as starvation, world war, segregation and sexism.

I know I don’t have to read every word, but I find myself censoring so many of the words that the sentences and the stories no longer make sense. They will learn these themes in school, and when they do, they will have many excellent books to explore the roles played by courageous women during these important periods in history.

But for the younger audience? It’s still incredibly important that younger children are hearing stories about brave and adventurous girls; girls that take risks and work through challenges; who work together as equals and aren’t labelled “tomboys” or “different” just because they handle a screwdriver or climb a tree. But I want these stories to be positive, happy and care-free. I want them to be stories that they can go to sleep dreaming about.

I tried to find stories like these, but they were so few and far between that after reading each of them the requisite 100 times, even my young children started to ask why there weren’t more!

So I started dreaming up new stories. It began with ideas and notes scribbled on scraps of paper, in notebooks, on my computer, on my phone. Eventually the Hot Air Balloon Stories began to take shape…three cousins playing hide and seek, discovering a broken hot air balloon and dreaming of places they could go…

*All* I needed was to find someone to bring to paper the illustrations that I see when I close my eyes. She wasn’t easy to find, but find her I did. When I received that first beautiful illustration from Jennifer Kirkham, I knew she was the perfect person to take the Hot Air Balloon Adventure Stories to the next level.

The under-representation of girls and the complete lack of diversity in children’s books has been a subject of concern for decades. Yet still today, as aware and concerned as we are of gender bias in every day life, children’s books are twice as likely to feature male lead characters than female lead characters. Even today, when 32% of school aged children in the UK are Black, Asian or “other Ethnic Minority”; only 1% of children’s books published in 2017 had main characters that were anything other than white.

In the picture book market for younger children – where seeing oneself in the characters of a book is so important – the traditional publishing industry continues to focus on non-human characters. It is easy to understand why; change the language of the text in a book about a cat, monster or potato and it becomes sellable in any country. But a study of the University of Toronto last year confirmed that children do not learn behaviours or morals from stories with animal characters.

Don’t get me wrong – my children and I absolutely adore many of the wonderful animal (and vegetable!) stories out there. They deserve a place on the bookshelf because they are fun, wonderfully told and beautifully illustrated stories. But studies show that girls start to doubt the brilliance of their own gender at six years of age. We HAVE to balance the bookshelves of younger children with enjoyable stories which clearly carry the message that girls are confident, capable and brilliant. Even if they fly into the odd tree every now and again…”

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.30.31 PMJennifer Kirkham is a British freelance Illustrator and graduate of the Glasgow School of Art. She credits her love of drawing to the portion of her childhood spent in East Africa, where the local wildlife provided endless inspiration and artistic challenges. 

Now based in the North East of England, Jennifer shares a studio with her cat Heath and dog Scout. She works with a mixture of digital and traditional tools, and gets through an awful lot of podcasts. 

The Start of Something Big

Written by: Annahita De La Mare

Illustrated by: Jennifer Kirkham

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Feminism, Adventure, Girls Outdoors, Family, Friendship, Love.

Summary: This book is so cute!  We love that the three main characters are an adventurous set of cousins, and very diverse!  These girls are an ode to those of us that prefer to splash in puddles, explore the woods, and take a hot air balloon away to a far off adventure.

Alice, Hannah, and Rosie find an old hot air balloon in the garden shed during a game of hide and seek.  Fixing it up, the courageous trio decides to fly it to their grandma’s house for dinner.  Despite a fun and harrowing journey, they land at their grandma’s house just in time for dinner! Afterwards, everyone (including Gordon the horse!) pile back into the balloon for another ride.  The girls learn a bit about flying from their grandmother, and then fly home to turn in for the night.  Knowing that this is the beginning of even more adventures, the girls have a sleepover to plan all of the places they wish to fly while falling asleep in Hannah’s room, tuckered out by their day of adventure.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

6493d270391e0a1200478445f53f5c73_originalWe were lucky enough to interview Annahita earlier this summer!  Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Hi! My name is Annahita, I was born in the UK to an Iranian mother and Welsh father. I moved to Switzerland 11 years ago to be live with my German husband, and together we have two girls (5 and 6 years old) who haven’t got a clue if they are Swiss, German or British 🙂

TTA: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about naturally inclusive children’s books. I believe that fear and prejudice grow out of a lack of knowledge and exposure, and I feel that books are a wonderful way to broaden children’s minds, and introduce them to topics or people that they may not necessarily come across in their daily lives. I also believe that girls should be FAR better represented in children’s books. They need more inspiring role models in positive fictional stories that they can go to sleep dreaming about.

I am also working on re-writes of the traditional princess fairy tales, trying to keep the original magic and delight of the original stories, but just changing silly storylines being all about meeting a prince and getting married. In all of my books I ensure that the characters in the story are a mixture of skin colours, because I believe it’s important not just for children of colour to see themselves in the pages of books, but for white children to see themselves in the pages of books, alongside children of colour with equally important roles in the stories.

Here is some information from her successful Kickstarter campaign:

“My children have been given many books about great women from history over this past year. It’s wonderful to see so many stories of strong and diverse women on the bookshelves. Some publishers have even tried to make versions relevant to younger audiences by reducing the text and using more illustrations. But these stories are still filled with themes which are hard to explain to young children, such as starvation, world war, segregation and sexism.

I know I don’t have to read every word, but I find myself censoring so many of the words that the sentences and the stories no longer make sense. They will learn these themes in school, and when they do, they will have many excellent books to explore the roles played by courageous women during these important periods in history.

But for the younger audience? It’s still incredibly important that younger children are hearing stories about brave and adventurous girls; girls that take risks and work through challenges; who work together as equals and aren’t labelled “tomboys” or “different” just because they handle a screwdriver or climb a tree. But I want these stories to be positive, happy and care-free. I want them to be stories that they can go to sleep dreaming about.

I tried to find stories like these, but they were so few and far between that after reading each of them the requisite 100 times, even my young children started to ask why there weren’t more!

So I started dreaming up new stories. It began with ideas and notes scribbled on scraps of paper, in notebooks, on my computer, on my phone. Eventually the Hot Air Balloon Stories began to take shape…three cousins playing hide and seek, discovering a broken hot air balloon and dreaming of places they could go…

*All* I needed was to find someone to bring to paper the illustrations that I see when I close my eyes. She wasn’t easy to find, but find her I did. When I received that first beautiful illustration from Jennifer Kirkham, I knew she was the perfect person to take the Hot Air Balloon Adventure Stories to the next level.

The under-representation of girls and the complete lack of diversity in children’s books has been a subject of concern for decades. Yet still today, as aware and concerned as we are of gender bias in every day life, children’s books are twice as likely to feature male lead characters than female lead characters. Even today, when 32% of school aged children in the UK are Black, Asian or “other Ethnic Minority”; only 1% of children’s books published in 2017 had main characters that were anything other than white.

In the picture book market for younger children – where seeing oneself in the characters of a book is so important – the traditional publishing industry continues to focus on non-human characters. It is easy to understand why; change the language of the text in a book about a cat, monster or potato and it becomes sellable in any country. But a study of the University of Toronto last year confirmed that children do not learn behaviours or morals from stories with animal characters.

Don’t get me wrong – my children and I absolutely adore many of the wonderful animal (and vegetable!) stories out there. They deserve a place on the bookshelf because they are fun, wonderfully told and beautifully illustrated stories. But studies show that girls start to doubt the brilliance of their own gender at six years of age. We HAVE to balance the bookshelves of younger children with enjoyable stories which clearly carry the message that girls are confident, capable and brilliant. Even if they fly into the odd tree every now and again…”

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.30.31 PMJennifer Kirkham is a British freelance Illustrator and graduate of the Glasgow School of Art. She credits her love of drawing to the portion of her childhood spent in East Africa, where the local wildlife provided endless inspiration and artistic challenges. 

Now based in the North East of England, Jennifer shares a studio with her cat Heath and dog Scout. She works with a mixture of digital and traditional tools, and gets through an awful lot of podcasts. 

 

Introducing: Annahita and her Hot Air Balloon Adventures!

Happy Saturday folx!  After a few waterlogged days here in New England, we were graced with a sunny afternoon.  Naturally, we spent it inside doing boring but necessary things like cleaning, laundry, and of course working on the website!  Now it’s time to go outside and look for important favorites of ours like pretty rocks and soft moss.  Hope you’re having a great Saturday, whatever is happening! 

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.13.01 PMAnnahita: Hi! My name is Annahita, I was born in the UK to an Iranian mother and Welsh father. I moved to Switzerland 11 years ago to be live with my German husband, and together we have two girls (5 and 6 years old) who haven’t got a clue if they are Swiss, German or British 🙂

TTA: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about naturally inclusive children’s books. I believe that fear and prejudice grow out of a lack of knowledge and exposure, and I feel that books are a wonderful way to broaden children’s minds, and introduce them to topics or people that they may not necessarily come across in their daily lives. I also believe that girls should be FAR better represented in children’s books. They need more inspiring role models in positive fictional stories that they can go to sleep dreaming about.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.20.51 PM

A: I am working with a wonderful illustrator, Jennifer Kirkham, to produce a series of books called the Hot Air Balloon Adventure series. The stories are about three cousins who go on adventures in a hot air balloon, exploring exciting destinations around the world. I wanted children to be reading stories about girls who do fun and physical stuff (like snowboarding and climbing), girls who encourage each other to be brave and work together to overcome obstacles, girls who have a passion for our beautiful world.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.15.22 PMI am also working on re-writes of the traditional princess fairy tales, trying to keep the original magic and delight of the original stories, but just changing silly storylines being all about meeting a prince and getting married. In all of my books I ensure that the characters in the story are a mixture of skin colours, because I believe it’s important not just for children of colour to see themselves in the pages of books, but for white children to see themselves in the pages of books, alongside children of colour with equally important roles in the stories.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.14.30 PM

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

A: Follow me on social media (follow the links below!), sign up for updates on the website to know when new books are released, but most importantly buy the books, review the books, and spread the word about them to people who you think would also enjoy them! 🙂 At the moment, every penny of profit I make in book sales goes towards the cost of illustrating the next story.

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The Girls
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?

A: Really?!? Only one?! Oh this is so hard. Well obviously I would like to say my own, but I will stop myself and instead say: I absolutely loved The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jennie Lovlie. It just says so much, so naturally with it’s illustrations and simple but powerful storyline. I cried the first ten times I read it to my children!

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

A: The third and fourth hot air balloon adventure stories coming out! Footprints in the Snow is coming out on 1st June; in this one the girls fly to Iceland to go snowboarding, and end up making a very large-footed friend. It’s a lovely story with a message about treating everyone as equals. In the fourth story, the girls go with Grandma on a mountain climbing expedition in Switzerland in search of some long lost treasure. So much adventure!!

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 12.24.34 PM


Stay Connected with Annahita!

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Stay Connected with Jennifer!

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Jennifer’s Portfolio

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