Afronaut is a new publishing project from company Alanna Max, featuring books about and for African children, the Afronauts. Many have yet to see themselves in a book, despite the millions of folktales and stories from each culture on the continent.
It’s been a dream of mine to play back all the wonderful ‘nganos’, or stories from my childhood in Zimbabwe. But travelling around the continent it’s become very clear that an African childhood is very different from a European or American one. Some of these children experience or witness things that they really shouldn’t. So we knew from the very start of the project that the list has to be appropriate to its readers.
We’re joining a growing list of African publishers committed to making their businesses work in difficult economic environments as well as to reflecting cultures back to readers.
Afronaut will publish books, ebooks, comics, posters, articles, and educational material over time. The list will focus on African countries first on as many local languages as possible. It will not shy away from being topical or political and is aiming to work alongside international organisations whose focus is children.
Afronaut launches in Spring 2020, with several pre-launch activities planned online and offline.
Everyone has a story inside them. Some of us tell it in a book or a play or on the stage, football pitch or boardroom. But most of us live our story, telling it to our loved ones, every day, year by year… the point is each story gets told and appreciated.
I have heard many wonderful stories and have learned to use the book as my medium. Let me share that way with you in a series of real-time posts, starting with an idea and ending (hopefully) with a beautiful book.
If you have thought of writing or illustrating your own book, or if you are just curious, then this real-time project will be of use before you get in touch.
All you have to do is follow the blog for regular monthly updates on the project. Please comment, spread the word and get involved!
It’s been an incredible few months.I’ve been slowly and steadily heading back to doing books full-time and it hasn’t been easy at all.
The plan was to return to the days when there were only books and book ideas on my work list. I have a couple of titles to try as ebooks and started planning for the Bologna Book Fair 2014.
But the idea of becoming a book publisher and a micro sized book publisher at that, worried me. That hasn’t gone away. It may be my vocation, but it’s still business, right? All that lies before me is an incredible schedule of trying to get the titles noticed, paying for a print run and then worrying about when (if) it will make the invested money back. It ooh several more weeks looking at numbers trying to find another way to minimise the risk. With th sol school publishing knowledge I have, it feels like the path gets narrower the further down it one travels. And its great like that; you might brush against a revolutionary new idea and succeed. But you might also brush against something disastrous.
The past few years I have started to value community. These are the people that we can all count on, in however small way. Your neighbourhood, your family, your friends around the world are all incredibly important. I struggled to tell these stories in book form for children. Its better when they are experienced in a different way, somehow. I’ve also been designing and editing newspapers and magazines so have been aware of the many ways to tell a story.
All this preamble is a fitting introduction to the subject of this post. I think I’ve cracked it; the other way to tell stories and still get everything I want!
It won’t be available everywhere. It starts in my neighbourhood early next year. It’s a quarterly. It involves its audience and their grown ups. It brings children’s content to the fore, not just children’s books and I think it’s the closes thing to a physical blog that have ever worked on. If it works, then it will grow and spread. Time will tell.
The Carnegie Greenaway award winners were announced on the same morning I was doing a workshop in front of around 100 children, where they showed what their picks were for the Winner. This took place at Platform in North London which is quite near where I live. The event was well organised by Islington Library Services. A full list of winners, including this year’s can be seen here. The Greenaway winner can be seen here, along with a list of previous winners. Teams of children stepped up and made presentations about their favourite books in what was a very enjoyable morning. Before we started, Sylvia Cohen warmed the children up with a few exercises to sharpen the mind and build confidence. She’s good at that.
I had to comment on each team’s work, and then run a workshop on creativity. During the workshop we discussed where ideas come from and how to hold onto and then make something of them before setting them free. I read an unfinished text for a book idea as an example (the Bear above is part of that).
At the end we handed out One page books on the creativity workshop which the children could take away. That part of the event was made possible by the sponsoring of the print run, something I hadn’t considered doing until recently. It worked fantastically well; the children went away with something they could use later, the sponsors, Singer Financial Trust and Spot On Print were able to play their parts in giving schools a little more than usual and of course for us, it marks the beginning of a collaboration that will bring literature and drama in new and enjoyable ways.
I am working on a digital version of the one page book which can be downloaded from this site
I’m still waiting for some images of the event that I can post.