The World in Multicolour

When strange is good: The Tigon and the Liger Q&A with Cosei Kawa

in: Children's books

Cosei KawaThe Tigon and the Liger is shortlisted for the Sheffield Children’s Book Awards!  To mark the occasion, I talk with illustrator Cosei Kawa about his work on this beloved book. Read on to find out what an “omphant” is (it’s cute!) and to watch the delightful message he prepared for the children of Sheffield.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a few of your favourite things about living in Shizuoka, Japan?

I am an illustrator of picture books and I teach illustration at the Shizuoka University of Art and Culture. Recently, I moved to the seaside in search of good sushi. I often walk on the beach – goofing off on the job!

You completed an MA in illustration at Falmouth University. Has living in the UK influenced your style? Do you think you have a particularly Japanese illustration style?

Living in the UK has significantly changed my illustration style. It was in the UK that I started my career as a professional illustrator. It is nice to hear British people say that Cosei’s illustration smells oriental, while Japanese people say it smells occidental.

The Tigon and the Liger by Keilly Swift and Cosei KawaCan you tell us how you go about creating your illustrations? What materials do you use?

I use pencil, watercolor, acrylic, collage, and CG to draw. Making rough sketches takes longer than colouring.

Did you enjoy illustrating The Tigon and the Liger? What did you like about the story?

I like the way the cats got over their difference. The lions and tigers rejected the tigon at first. I imagine they felt strange looking at this different animal. However, a great discovery, a unique creation, or a revolutionary design may look strange. The feeling of strangeness is evidence that it is good! Don’t you think this book looks slightly strange?

How did you approach illustrating a story set in the Gir Forest in India? What inspired the fantastical drawings and little collages – like stories within the story – in some of your pages?

The Gir Forest has many teak trees, so while drawing the book, I burned incense of teak and surrounded myself with the scent of that forest. As for the small side stories, I enjoy drawing these and prefer to have them in my work. I drew a lot of caricatures and comics on my school textbooks.

If you could create your own hybrid creature, what would it look like and what would you call it?Illustration the Tigon and the Liger

I would create an “Omphant”. This is an elephant who lives in your belly button. Omphant likes sesame seeds.

Do you think it’s important that children have access to books that represent cultures other than their own?

The importance to know different cultures is increasing. Too many societies are becoming closed-minded and too nationalistic these days. Some kingdom is going out of a circle and some eastern tiny empire hates a missile man.

What countries or cultures would you like to see represented more often in children’s books?The Tigon and the Liger Keilly Swift Cosei Kawa

After drawing this book, I became more interested in the intersection of civilizations and in places like Istanbul, Shanghai, or Karelia.

When you are not illustrating picture books, what other types of artwork do you create?

If I am not illustrating, I would make visual narratives anyway, like graphic novels, animation films, or board games.

Do you have any tips for aspiring illustrators?

Please enjoy drawing. To do so, you can survive and continue growing.

Thanks Cosei! You can find more of Cosei’s wonderful artwork here, and to buy your copy of The Tigon and the Liger,  please click here.





2 Lantana titles nominated for the *Kate Greenaway Medal 2018!*

in: Children's books

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Sleep Well, Siba and Saba and The Wooden Camel are nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018, the oldest and most prestigious award for children’s book illustration in the UK! Congratulations to illustrators Manuela Adreani and Sandra van Doorn for this fantastic achievement!

What is the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal?

The Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded to “an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.” This means that the book must “provide pleasure from a stimulating and satisfying visual experience which leaves a lasting impression.” Past winners of the Kate Greenaway medal are Raymond Briggs, Lauren Child, Quentin Blake, Anthony Browne and Chris Riddell. Last year’s winner was Lane Smith for his work on There Is a Tribe of Kids.

See the complete list of nominated titles here.

Meet our nominated illustrators!

Manuela Adreani

Manuela Adreani is the Italian illustrator of The Wooden Camel, written by Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu. Manuela has an acclaimed illustration history and was among the winners of the illustration contest commemorating the 130th anniversary of the creation of Pinocchio.

The Wooden Camel is a gentle story about a young Kenyan boy who dreams about being a camel racer. It was included in the Read for Empathy Guide 2017 curated by EmpathyLab and Children’s Book Editor of the Sunday Times, Nicolette Jones, and has received high praise from critics, including a starred review from the School Library Journal. Here are some of the great things people have said about Manuela’s work on this book:

“Adreani’s expressive illustrations, with her striking use of colour, are alluring.” – Outside In World

“Adreani’s scenes are truly beautiful and perfectly complement the soft, sympathetic humour of Kahiu’s text. A book to cherish, to share, ponder upon and discuss widely.’ – Jill Bennett, Red Reading Hub 

Sandra van Doorn (right) with Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl 

Sandra van Doorn is the illustrator of Sleep Well, Siba and Saba by Ugandan writer Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl. Born in France, she attended art classes at Emily Carr University and now lives in Australia. This is her first nomination for a major award!

Sleep Well, Siba and Saba is a heartwarming story about two forgetful sisters who dream of bright futures. It has received a coveted starred review from Kirkus Reviews and Sandra’s illustrations have earned special praise:

“Sandra van Doorn brings the whimsical story vibrantly to life” – Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“The expressive and elegant artwork, with references to Ugandan tales, makes the journey to the world of Siba and Saba more delightful. ” – School Library Journal

What happens next

The judging panel consisting of 12 children’s librarians who are members of CILIP will assess the nominations. The longlist will be announced on 15th February 2018 and the shortlist on the 15th March 2018. The Medal will be awarded to the winner on the 18th June.

How can I get copies of these books?

To buy a copy of Sleep Well, Siba and Saba and The Wooden Camel, click here. Free shipping in the UK!

If you are in the US, you can get your copies from our US distributor, Lerner Books.

Well done, Sandra and Manuela! A huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful librarians who voted for our books!

The Lantana Team



“Love, not fear” : Nadine Kaadan on needing joyful stories about Syria

in: Children's books

Nadine Kaadan knows the power of stories to open up our world. Her first English-language picture book The Jasmine Sneeze does exactly this and more. Through her joyful, fun-filled tale about cheeky, karaoke-singing cat Haroun and his misadventures in Damascus, Nadine challenges the “single story” many of us have of Syria by focussing on its vibrant culture and rich heritage. Imagine our delight when we learnt that The Jasmine Sneeze was recently translated into Arabic-Slovenian, Arabic-Croatian, and Arabic-German bilingual editions! These were produced by a project called Story time: Connecting people with the power of artFunded by the European Union and with partners from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany, Story time aims to facilitate the acceptance and integration of refugee children into local European communities. I asked Nadine to tell us about her work with Story time and the impact of translated versions of her book on Croatian, Slovenian and Austrian readers.*

Can you tell us more about how The Jasmine Sneeze became involved with Story time?

The organisers wanted to find a book that touched on Syrian culture that they could make bilingual and that could facilitate a true integration. I went on a trip to Slovenia, Croatia and Austria to do storytime workshops and readings and also to show the local community more about the Syrian culture away from the news, away from the fear that everyone is having or that the media is spreading. They wanted, basically, to show locals more about these people who are coming. Where do they come from? What is their culture? And the organiser found that The Jasmine Sneeze was an ideal book for this project.

Nadine with Slovenian artist Vesna Bukovec

Story time also invited you to participate in their art residency programme. What was this about?

The Story time project has two sides. The story-reading project is one side. The other side of it is a one-week art residency. Artists from different countries collaborated to create artwork where traditional motifs were seen through the topic of refugees or immigration. I worked with a Slovenian artist, Vesna Bukovec. I designed a tile that looks like the Islamic tiles that you can find all over Syria. The designs on these tiles usually represent herbs or plants, but instead we used the traditional flower bouquet of Slovenia as inspiration, where each flower represents a Christian value. So what I am trying to challenge is the idea of a monoculture. I am trying to challenge the idea of separation. Through art, you can celebrate diversity truly. When you look at the tile, you see that it is coming from Syria – from Islam – and it is also representing something that is traditional and Slovenian. These tiles were spread all over public spaces in Slovenia.

Photos from KGLU – Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti

How did it feel to hear The Jasmine Sneeze being read in another language? What did you observe from the children listening?

The kids were very excited. We read the book in Arabic and then we read the translation, and I found that all the kids – Slovenian, Croatian and Austrian – were excited to look at the Arabic letters and to learn Arabic. They would ask me to write their names in Arabic. There was a true cultural exchange happening, and I felt it left them feeling less afraid of Syria and Syrians. Kids are so excited to learn about things they don’t know anything about. This is something adults are not so good at – they are mostly afraid of the things they don’t know. And it was really fun for me to hear these languages that I also don’t speak. It was really nice to hear the tonality and learn how they express the story and it was a true cultural exchange.

Photos from KGLU – Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti – KGLU

Can you share a standout event or a favourite moment?

In Zagreb, one of the mums told me that after reading the book her daughter said she can’t wait until she has a Syrian friend. That was really beautiful to hear. This is a time when Syrians need friends. And then in Slovenia, a journalist from the local television network that came to cover the event at the KGLU – Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti asked one little boy, “What did you learn about Syria after reading the book?” And he said, “Well, they have karaoke parties and cats.” So, reading this book immediately created an image of Syria that was positive. It reminds people of the culture, the art. And when these kids meet a child who is a refugee from Syria, then their interaction will be different just from this one story reading.

Photo from Booksa. Arabic-Croatian edition of The Jasmine Sneeze

Why do you think we should publish and read children’s books in translation? What will we gain from reading these types of books?

I’ve learned recently that in the UK less than 3% of books have been translated from other languages. That tells us how much English kids are missing, how much they don’t know about the world and other cultures. It’s very, very important for kids to be exposed to the world, to know what’s going on around them. It creates love, it creates empathy, it creates understanding. You know, at the end of one of these events someone told me that when she gets a cat, she will name it Haroun. I think that’s beautiful, that a Syrian name now has a positive meaning for this European child – that it inspires love and not fear.

Thank you, Nadine! You can buy your copy of The Jasmine Sneeze here. And if you live in the USA, watch out for our hardcover edition – coming to US bookstores in March 2018!

*This interview has been edited.


Lantana Publishing SHORTLISTED for the CLARISSA LUARD AWARD 2017

in: Publishing

We are thrilled to announce that Lantana Publishing is on the shortlist of the Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishers, a prize managed by New Writing North and set up by Arts Council EnglandLantana is 1 of 4 shortlistees who stood out for our ability to “champion diversity, niche areas and underserved markets.”

What is the Clarissa Luard Award?

This biennial award seeks to celebrate the “adventurousness, innovative spirit, and creativity” of independent publishers and to recognise their contribution to UK and Irish literature. Arts Council England created the award to honour the memory of Clarissa Luard, a literature professional and champion of writers and publishers. Publishers were invited to send in proposals detailing the ways the award of £10,000 would benefit their businesses.

Who else is on the shortlist?

Peepal Tree Press, who specialise in Carribean and Black British writing; Little Toller Books, publisher of writing about nature and landscape; and Penned in the Margins, a live literature producer who specialise in poetry. Lantana Publishing is the only children’s publisher on the list.

The judges praised the “inspired and inspiring proposals” put forward by all four publishers. According to The Bookseller, a spokesperson for the award said that all four shortlistees “have already forged ahead by way of content, approach, and presentation.”

Award judges are writer Jenn Ashworth, literary editor Sharmaine Lovegrove, literature and arts professional Gary McKeone and bookseller Helen Stanton, owner of Forum Books.

What happens next?

The winner will be announced alongside the David Cohen Prize for Literature on 8 November 2017 at a ceremony in London.

We are truly honoured to have made it onto the shortlist of this amazing award, and to be in such brilliant company. THANK YOU to all who continue to support and believe in us!

The Lantana Team


Books that build bridges: a librarian’s story by Alison Brumwell

in: Children's books

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Alison Brumwell took some of our books to Eastern Uganda, where they were used in an Africa Educational Trust (AET) reading and creative writing project for primary schools. She offers this insight about The Wooden Camel, saying that like the shared reading groups, the book succeeds in “bridging two very different cultures and bridging the divide between those who can read and those who struggle.” We are pleased to have Alison share her experiences on our blog today.

My work as a volunteer with Africa Educational Trust has been a steep learning curve. I started out in 2010 helping source book stock to support primary school library setups at rural schools in Eastern Uganda. When I was invited to work ‘in the field’ to help develop and deliver staff training I didn’t know what to expect. I first visited the country in February 2012 and in August 2017 returned from a fifth amazing trip, in which I witnessed the pilot of a shared reading project.

The project was set up at Buyaka Primary School in March by Jenny Lewis and Elizabeth Boardman, two ex-Head Teachers and fellow AET volunteers, and runs along lines which are like schemes run by charities such as Reading Matters and Beanstalk. My own involvement as a librarian was in drawing up the framework for how the pilot could work at Buyaka and for monitoring its success (or otherwise) over the first few months; also, in helping to set up two further shared reading groups in July at Mpogo and Bumbobi Primary Schools. On 25 July, I had the opportunity to visit Buyaka Primary School to speak to Mwasa Joshua, the school librarian, about their project, and about the potential for setting up a writing group for upper school pupils. While creative writing isn’t taught in Uganda until secondary school Joshua is keen to explore other ways of supporting pupils with learning English. Parents have been very supportive of the shared reading project and see proficiency in English as key to exam success. A key barrier is finding suitable material in English to use as a stimulus, for both shared reading and developing written and oral storytelling skills.

Shared reading group at Mpogo Primary School

This is where Lantana’s representative African books played a key role. Joshua and his pupils were keen to see The Wooden Camel and Chicken in the Kitchen as these represent landscape, traditions and local issues with which children and their families are familiar. The Wooden Camel, which is set in neighbouring Kenya, sparked interest because of its simple narrative and unique use of perspective. A younger pupil pointed out that you can see between the camel’s legs in one spread and the boys all appreciated Etabo’s passion for sport. Not only does he want to become a camel racer, he wears his football jersey throughout the story. Football is played everywhere in Ugandan schools, but rarely with a football. Children use their imaginations just as Etabo must use his when the family camels are sold. This was a powerful message I took away from Buyaka after my own shared reading experience with Joshua and his pupils.

Alison Brumwell

About the author: Alison has a keen interest in children’s literature and promoting reading for pleasure. She is a past CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judge and the current Chair Elect of National Youth Libraries Group.

Buy your copy of The Wooden Camel here.  Also available in the U.S.A. from our North American distributor, Lerner Books