A new selection of titles from Hardie Grant’s brand new imprint for children called Bright Light, their first list of books for children in the UK, which launched in Autumn is out. Bright Light brings together engaging stories and beautiful design for an exuberant collection of illustrated books, united by a vision to change the world – one conversation at a time. The new Spring list builds on the themes that formed the foundations of the imprint - Gender, Environment, First Nations, Bodies, Character and Diversity – celebrating individuality, positivity, and resilience.
One of the highlights of the collection is Amma’s Sari by Sandhya Parappukkaran, which has the most enchanting illustrations by Michelle Pereira, and is a warm and uplifting story about being caught between two identities and encourages young readers to celebrate their individuality and show pride in that which makes you different that encourages young readers to celebrate their individuality.
Amma's Sari is a powerful reflection on connection with family, the acceptance of difference, and the celebration of cultural heritage. As a second-generation migrant, 6-year-old Shreya’s life tilts between her life at home and the outside world. While her love for family lifts her up, her spirits plummet at the stares and whispers that her mother's sari attracts. Searching for balance, Shreya asks questions about her culture. Despite the beautiful stories her mother shares, Shreya’s internal and external struggle continues. But when Shreya finds herself lost in a crowd, it's the shimmer of Amma’s sari that leads her to find pride in her difference.
Speaking to Asian Voice, Sandhya said, “Sometimes names can feel arduous, unfurling rapidly like a rolling ball of yarn when you’re introducing yourself or reciting the spelling for someone.”
In The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name, which is also written by Sandhya Parappukkaran and illustrated by Michelle Pereira, Zimdalamashkermishkada attempts to shrink his name as he starts a new school, but it returns to its full glory after every attempt.
Zimdalamashkermishkada’s mother tries to help him by reminding him of his name’s meaning and gently suggests giving people a chance to say it right. It is hard, though, when your name is from another culture and unwieldy to the English language palates. It is not until he befriends Elly that he finally finds the confidence to step into his long name. Elly’s friendship gives Zimdalamashkermishkada the courage to teach her how to say his name, and a name repeated correctly helps Elly to learn to say it. It is that simple.”
This compelling story, inspired by the author’s trepidations with her own name, pays tribute to the meaning entwined in names and empowers those with first-language pronunciations to uphold their cultural heritage with pride and joy.
The Boy who Tried to Shrink His Name, written by Sandhya Parappukkaran and illustrated by Michelle Pereira, is published by Hardie Grant Books (£11.99).