What We Want to Achieve
Roxborough Publishing is working towards publishing its first children’s picture book, ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’. We need to raise a minimum of £4,000 to make it a reality.
We all know how imaginative children are and how they love to be engrossed in the world of make believe. In this age of social technology and media, it is a sad fact that people’s engagement in the world of imagination outside of themselves is wreaking havoc on their mental health and self esteem in a number of ways and it is happening among younger people and even among children.
Roxborough Publishing’s first picture story book for children, ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’, takes children on a fun, imaginative and whimsical journey, that leaves them at the end with the clear understanding that it is best to be yourself, rather than trying to be something or someone else. It gently utilises the theme of self esteem to encourage children to value and to accept themselves for who they are.
The overall aim of Roxborough Publishing is to create a series of books that are enjoyable for children as stand alone stories but that simultaneously instil positive and uplifting values and messages.
In soliciting support for the project, I have also discovered a number of children and young people who are actively interested in writing children’s stories. Roxborough Publishing aims to establish a mentoring programme to help these children and young people with developing their craft.
Why Should You Support This Project?
There are many great stories that will never make it into books because traditional publishing is so exclusive. Talented writers are increasingly taking advantage of available technology to produce their work but often, especially as is the case with picture books, it takes a significant capital investment to create products that are of a marketable standard. I have shared ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’ with several children who have enjoyed the story. It is important that the project receives the required support to make the final product a reality and to ensure increased diversity in the types of books that are able to be made available to children through the production of other similarly excellent stories.
My name is Joy. I am a trained journalist and I have years of general writing experience. During this time, I have won several awards and recommendations for my poetry, short stories, articles and essays.
I have always enjoyed writing, and over the past several years, I have especially developed a love for writing for children. Some of the best fun I have had was when I ran a children’s entertainment business, where I would tell stories, create and perform sketches and play games with children at their birthday and Christmas parties, and at school sessions, especially during Black History Month. I did this dressed as Anancy, the Spider and sometimes, we’d even have other animal hand puppets who pitted wits with Anancy and delighted the children.
I’m getting on a bit now, though, and so I’d like to turn my writing in another direction and create books that children can keep and read for themselves again and again. The ethos of the books is first to give children a sense of pleasure from reading (or being read to) but also to inspire and encourage positive attitudes and self esteem.
The Book: ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’
My idea is to develop and write a series of stories that engender this ethos. The first such book, ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’ will be marketed under the new brand, Roxborough Publishing, which is currently being developed.
‘I Wish I Were a Bird’ is 764 words in length. Here is the idea behind it:
If you could change into an animal, which one would you choose to be, and why? Children are often fascinated with the world of make believe; and as one little boy watches a bird preening its feathers, he wishes he could be a bird too. The bird offers to exchange places with him, and that wish takes the boy on a whimsical journey, swapping identities with a number of animals that he meets on the way. With each swap, he realises that being in a different skin has its drawbacks and is perhaps not as grand an idea as he at first imagined. Finally, he just wants to be himself again, and one last wish takes him to the end of his journey and back home again, where he is happiest of all.
The story uses a fun, repetitive, semi-rhyme format that children will enjoy following. It is written in English and the intended audience is children 3 to 8 years old.
Themes In The Book
On a subtle level, the book addresses the issue of self-esteem and gently helps children to appreciate themselves for who they are. In this age when talk of good mental health is so high on the political and social agendas, and where social media often wreaks such havoc in people’s minds, from an earlier and earlier age, I think the importance of actively utilising media to foster good mental health and to counteract the no doubt unintended negative effects of social media, needs to be amplified.
Will Children Like This Kind of Book?
In some ways, I would say that “I Wish I Were a Bird’ compares to 'The Gruffalo' and 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' in that all three take children on whimsical journeys, engaging them through the use of repetitive story patterns, as well as rhyme (in the case of ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’) or onomatopoeias (in the case of ‘We're Going on a Bear Hunt’). Children will enjoy the silliness and repetition inherent in ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’ as they do in the other two books. ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘We're Going on a Bear Hunt’ are timeless classics and they impacted me when I purchased them for the children in my life. With your backing, I am trusting that ‘I Wish I Were a Bird’ will last as long as those two great books have and impact children just as tremendously.
‘I Wish I Were a Bird’ is different from the two books mentioned in that the journey itself and the circumstances surrounding it are different. I was inspired to write it one day when I sat on my mother's verandah in Jamaica watching a bird that was sitting on the gate cleaning itself. As I watched the bird twisting its head almost all the way around on its neck, I wondered what it would be like if I could do that. . .if I could be a bird. . .
What 5 year old, Tianna, had to say . . .
How the Funds Raised Will Help
The money raised for the project will be used to pay an illustrator/designer to produce the pictures and the layout for the book. I have already been in discussion with a UK based illustrator, Andy Catling, who is excited about the project and has years of experience in picture book illustrating with some of the big publishing houses. Some of the funds will also be used to pay a company to help me with the marketing, promotion and all other technical aspects involved in the process.
*We have received a pledge of £2,000 to cover the rewards and book marketing
Before You Go . . .
I just wanted to share with you that in 2014, my short story, ‘The Club’, was awarded a silver medal and the trophy for the best children's short story in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's annual Creative Writing Competition. In 2015, I was awarded two bronze medals for submissions to the adult categories of the same competition. In 2018 and 2019, I was awarded gold medals for entries in the essay categories of the same competition. As a trained journalist, I have also been involved in numerous other writing projects, often for charities and community organisations but also for government and other business organisations. I trust that this will inspire you with confidence that I will do a stellar job in creating products that parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and librarians will be happy to get for the children in their lives.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my project. And thank you for backing me! Let’s engage and inspire the children in our lives, one story at a time . . .
(Me reading with my nephew, several years ago, while on holiday in Jamaica.)