Bekki’s black fairy princess jigsaw

Bekki the Fairy is a big fan of Princess Tiana and loves how Tiana does her bit to show black girls how important they are.  This is why books and dolls and toys are so important.  Tiny girl might get the heebie jeebies if they went to see The Frog Princess – that voodoo scene, whew!  – but they can cuddle a Princess Tiana doll and they a can do a Princess Tiana jigsaw.

black fairy princess plate
Disney Princess Tiana represents black kids

Tiana has had a few issues over the year – her hairstyle in the movie is out of step with the natural hair movement.  She spent a lot of time as a frog in her own movie.  She almost changed her look for Wreck it Ralph and started to look like Beyonce.  But aside from that, she works hard as a Disney princess and has been doing her bit for afrovisibility and representation while the Disney Princess came back into fashion in a big way.  The new comfy doll has curly, coily hair.

Princess Tiana doll from Ralph break the Internet
The clothes are comfy, the tresses are natural

I design items on Zazzle around my characters Bekki the Fairy, Geeky Mikita and the STEM Lovin’ Baby-Sitters.   I use them items to liven up my book parcels.  i have just started doing Bekki the Fairy jigsaws.  My books about a black girl who is the only fairy in a normal family is doing its bit to help literacy amon black kids who will be happy to see a girl like them in a book.  And if she happens to be a black fairy princess having silly fun with magic spells  like Princess Tiana then all the better.

black fairy and her cat
Bekki the Fairy and Fluffypuff jigsaw on Zazzle


Bekki the Fairy and Fluffypuff jigsaw



Using Barbie dolls to make diverse book characters

I will be explaining how I am customizing Barbie dolls to make them into my book characters, Bekki the Fairy and Geeky Mikita.  I will be using Chelsea and Skipper to make my characters.   I want STE companies to see the importance of diversity – all my girls are science superstars as well as baby-sitters.   Details to follow.

Fairy doll in a package with a cellophane front that shows the doll against an imaginative package.
We will take a Sharpies to the hair

It is important for children to see themselves in books, toys, TV shows and popular culture. I love what Barbie does to represent as many girls as she can in this multicultural world. Barbie also does her bit to show girls doing science and STEM jobs. My book A Fairy in the Family Again – the School Science Competition is about babysitters doing STEM. Girls of African descent star in the book.

Black Barbie sister doll with school science accessories
STEM role model Stacie

I have got some Stacie and Skipper dolls and I will be customizing them to make them look like my STEM Lovin’ baby-sitters book characters. I am especially happy with a Stacie doll who is dressed for science. i got her on ebay and she is in Compton now! She left Redondo Beach a few days ago, so the tracking info tells me. She will arrive in ireland to do her bit to represent black girls in STEM.

Corona crisis, Covid-19, cancelled, Communion

First Holy Communions in ireland and around the world have been postponed. Can you imagine being eight years old and having to miss the big day out and possibly  a party in your honour?  My story was written before the crisis and shows a little girl and her chaotic family in Cork dealing with the messy business of the First Holy Communion.

Most people remember their First Holy Communion day warmly. Even in moden times the day has a great significance for families acknowledging their part in a wider community. Here is my nostalgic story about a Cork family caught up in the fun and fuss of dress buying.

Kathleen and the Communion Copter was named after my aunt and godmother, Kathleen, a gracious and generous woman.

Here is a spin-off story about Aine and her chatterbox baby brother

Multi-cultural Farming and Gardening books – diversity with “A Barbie and a Book”

Doll with afro puff and wicker basket and wellies
Let’s play urban gardeners

Is there anything nicer than an Amazon package with a new book?  Yes, a new book PAIRED with a dolly.

While I was involved with Multi-Cultural Book Day I reviewed a book about African elephants and my review had a suggestion of buying toy animals too.

Diverse books are needed as much as ever. Dolls and books have a very important role in REPRESENTATION. Imagine reading a book like “The Sugar Plum Ballerinas ” and then having a ballet doll to act out the scenes!   Heaven!!   Imaginative play, books and dolls all work together. 

I am going to kick off with a post about Farming and Urban Gardening to tie in with the new Sweet  Orchard Farm Barbie dolls.  I have a FABULOUS  global list of Multi-Cultural Farming books  that  I am linking to.  The list is from America so there’s a rich  mix of cultures and plants. Barbie dolls are multi-cultural and affordable.

I am selecting two books “Lola Plants a Garden”

Little black girl looking at seeds growing in her garden
Lola has many books for little kids

and “Green, Green – A Community Gardening Story” 

Book cover with little black girl in a garden
Dolls enjoy playing in the garden

I used to live in London so I want to share the idea of gardening in small spaces and urban settings.

Here come the dolls. 

I am showcasing the  Sweet Orchard Farm series of dolls, animal and play items.  I live in a rural Irish village so I love that Barbie has a tractor as well as a truck.

To pair with Lola Plants a Garden and Green Green  I think Chelsea is perfect.   Chelsea in Barbie’s little baby sister and she comes with a little yellow chick. 

Brunety curly doll in wellies
Chelsea on the farm. is she Lola today?

Barbie gets the best accessories but her pals and siblings have some sweet outfits, animals  and props too.   The brown skinned  dolls, apart from Chelsea are adult sized, with one male and two female dolls in jolly coloured wellies.    I have linked to US Amazon where possible.

Barbie with afro puff and wicker basket in packaging
Sweet Orchard Farm has a dress code

barbie in blue wellies and watering can
Sweet Orchard Farm Barbie, an urban gardener

Planting time on Sweet Orchard Farm


Books for people who cannot read – Alexa helps people who are alexic as well as dyslexic

The book industry has changed so much- all the new ways to read or hear a book –  Amazon’s Alexa can share books with people who might really enjoy some story telling but cannot read – they could be  too small, they could be dyslexic, they could be”Alexic”. 

In neuropsychology there are words that we only come across when a brain is not well.  Someone whose brain has taken a knock could be aphasic (not able to speak properly), agnosic (not able to recognise objects), prosopagnosic (not able to recognize faces) or , new word coming up ‘alexic’.  The “a” means that something is missing so afamilial means you have no family.  Alexia means the absence of the ability to read.

But Alexa was shown on TV recently helping a women who had lost her ability to read to access the books she had collected for her retirement  – but then lost with a rare type of dementia.  An Alexa type device gave her back her books.

I had not seen Amazon and Jeff Bezos as anything other than money-making machines but the Big Life Fix showed that tech is looking to a future that is not about young people with new kit but old people keeping quality of life.  So as a self-published author I am happy to do battle with all the different platforms for books, e-books, audio books, library books, library e-books and library audio books.


girl in First Holy Communion dress and veil has her hair and rosary beads blown sideways by a white helcopter
Which format is this again?

A hair-aware book for Multi-Cultural Children’s Book Day 2020

Here is my plan.   I am changing direction with my books.  From the beginning my books were about representation of black girls in London where I lived and I put my time and £ into the project.  Now I want a corporate sponsor who wants to share the positive messages in my book.

The books are full of good messages about girls doing STEM, being kind, sporting natural Afro hair, helping each other, wearing hair inspired by Brixton’s hairdressers, doing mischief.

My books are unusually ‘hair aware’.  Each character is played by a child model who I had worked with previously when I did photography for  photo libraries like Getty and Alamy.  I knew each girl’s style – Mikita has a natural afro, Keysha always loved extensions, Ruby likes braids.  Bekki the Fairy had a crazy style –  because, in the stories, her magic spells affected her costume and hair.   The girls all had their own look.  London hairdressers are world class style leaders. 
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

The School Science Competition

Over the past decade, more and more groups have popped up who share books with  children in under-resourced areas.  When by books head off around the world I know that kids see something of themselves in the starts of my book.  Science, baby-sitting, magic and black hair mean something to little girls.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Representation and literacy are two things that I tried to contribute with A Fairy in the Family and now with A Fairy in the Family Again – The School Science Competition My books represent black girls in an appealing and aspirational way.  Kids want to see themselves in funny, entertaining books.  ‘Mirrors”  give kids them a reason to read.  And dream.

Young girl scientist tucking her hair into a hat

I need to get a corporate sponsor   –  My hope is that my reviews on MCBD will help me attract a global, science company who will want diverse female employees. 

twowomen with post bag full of books outside a rural irish post office
Sending Bekki the Fairy to the DEIS urban primary schools

What next for the Atlanta African American BookFest?

I am sending good wishes to Ferai Caldwell who organised this year’s  festival but afterwards sent an email to all participants saying that the event was no more.

A successful, well-attended, buzzy event was visible on social media.  Participants posted clips of authors sitting at their stands while readers milled around.  The email suggested that a lack of money caused the event to go awry.  Mr Caldwell might have needed a few generous sponsors to keep the show on the road.  I don’t think this is the end of the story. 

An Instagram post by the AAABookFeest naming Avril O'Reilly as a Book Donor
Bekki the fairy has been donated to many interesting places.

I’m delighted that I was invited to the Atlanta African American BookFest

Mr Ferai Caldwell – founder of the AAABookFest – was looking to increase the numbers attending the AAABookfest.  He seeks to promote African American writing.  I am not American of African (Irish in London) but I have written a book that has appeal for the audience.   

This year I took part as a book donor to the Atlanta Children’s Book Drive with my book A Fairy in the Family.   I think the books have gone to Fulton County Library.

I was invited to add my book to the Freedom Bookstore.  That was very exciting – I would have been in some very good company – however my book needs reformatting so next year it will be.  Diversity will be a theme in the 2020 AAABookFest and I hope my London Irish book finds a kindly audience.

An Instagram post by the AAABookFeest naming Avril O'Reilly as a Book Donor
Bekki the fairy has been donated to many interesting places.