What happens when all the baby-sitters say “No!” to looking after Bekki the Fairy? And what on earth happened last time?
In my day I believe I was responsible for the most expensive children’s book illustrations ever. My “Fairy in the Family” books with their lavish studio photos of real models absorbed all my spare cash.
I was intrigued to hear that I could buy illustrations for as little as five dollars from a website called Fiverr. Fiverr is one of those new ‘gigging economy’ websites where sellers all over the planet offer tantalising art works. The offers are presented in the first person “I will sing your jingle for a fiver”, “I will create your cartoon portrait for a fiver” and so on.
The website has the feel of an affordable sweetshop. I have decided to give it a go for my book “Kei-Ling and the Ivory Princess”. After looking at dozens of drawings I have settled on someone with very cure drawings on her profile page.
The first thing I noticed was that while many people offer a service for a fiver, added extras can bump up the cost. But the sellers vary widely in their pricing. There are bargains to be had but also you can pay what you feel to be fair and right. I would feel bad about paying five dollars for something this good.
I am very excited to think I can have something as lovely as this after a few days wait and a few euro going out of my PayPal account.
I have sent off my own version of a front cover to an artist in the Philippines. I want a cover, not just a drawing and I want commercial rights so the cost is closer now to fifty than five and heading upwards. I think this style will suit my characters and give them a professional, commercial look.
My own cover is here. This labour of love took many hours with hand drawn pictures researched and coloured by hand. I cannot wait to see how the artist reinterprets my drawing.
Bekki the Fairy is very excited to meet Zolie Zi, also known by her nickname “Miss Chit Chat”. Zolie is the narrator of a series of books set in the Helping Hands Academy for Gifted and Talented Children.
Before we start check out the pics of Zolie on this video. She’s a cutie!
Bekki: Is it true your story was on the radio read out by a very special presenter. Tell me about that, please.
and and a dolly
In her first ever blog interview Bekki the Fairy is delighted to meet Raffi the star of Made by Raffi. He tells her why is it cool for boys to knit.
Bekki: Hi Raffi. It is good to meet you. I’m Bekki the Fairy and I am a very helpful fairy. Now i should point out that I am a girl. Are you one of those boys who doesn’t like playing with girls?
Raffi: Hi Bekki, aren’t all fairies helpful? I like playing with everyone, even adults. The spelling of your name is really cool.
Bekki: Back Atcha! That means ‘same to you’. Tell me, what is so good about knitting?
Raffi: Knitting is really peaceful. I like to be quiet. It’s a great way to pass the time on a long, boring ride to school. I have to concentrate so I don’t miss a stitch ,and the time flies. Another great thing about knitting is “tinking”. that is knitting backwards – you can always go back and “unknit” any mistakes.
Bekki: My granny used to knit. Who knits in your family? Is it only the grannies and aunties?
Raffi: Only me — I saw my teacher knitting during recess and she showed me. My parents were really surprised when I asked them if I could get some needles and yarn.
Bekki: Where did you get those lovely drawings of yourself and the wool?
Raffi: My friend Margaret Chamberlain is a famous illustrator and she made them. Don’t you think it’s funny to see a drawing of yourself? Who made your drawings? How did they get you to sit still? Did you fly all over the room?
Bekki: My mum was at all my photo shoots and she helps me be good. What is your favourite type of sheep?
Raffi: I like the cute black faced ones. I like all kinds of animals, especially dogs. My dog’s name is Scamp. Do you have a pet?
Bekki: Yes, I sometimes do spells on my cat and cat to make their lives fun. Do some sheep have better wool for knitting? Do you use real wool?
Raffi: I do use real wool. I like merino wool because it is really soft, but it is harder to work with because it is so fragile. Sometimes I use acrylic yarn — it comes in the most awesome colors!
Bekki: What knitting project are you doing now?
Raffi: I like to make presents for people. My mother’s birthday is coming up so I thought I would make her some gloves with each finger a different color. My first knitting project was a scarf for my dad. I just started knitting and finally when I stopped i didn’t realise the scarf was soooooo long. It ran the length of the school bus.
Bekki: I am from London but I am a mixture. My family come from Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Portugal and Scotland. Where are you from and are you a mixture?
Raffi: That is a mixture! I live in New York but was born in Russia, does that make me a mixture?
Bekki: Of course it does! Congrats! My books are in English and Irish. What languages is your book in and how did you pick them?
Raffi: My book is in eight languages (11 countries) with more coming: Italian, English, Danish, Dutch, Korean, Norweigian, Chinese and Taiwanese. I didn’t pick them, I think they picked me because they liked my story. Isn’t it cool that all over the world people like the same thing? I enjoy looking at the different kinds of writing, but my picture looks the same in every language – haha!
Bekki: I won the three legged race in my School Sports Day. Have you won any prizes?
Raffi: Wow – a three legged race sounds fun. Congratulations! I haven’t won any prizes, but I am not so good at sports. At school I am the person everyone comes to when they want clothing or costumes or any homemade craft things. I once made a pair of shoes!
Bekki: I think you are being modest. i hear you are a Little Rebel. What’s that all about?
Raffi: I was nominated for The Little Rebel’s Children’s Book Awards. They nominate kids like me who stand up for themselves and fight for social justice and equality and even change stereotypes. they narrowed it down to three really cool kids out of hundreds!
Bekki: Ooooh! Props to you! Who wrote a book about you and why?
Raffi: My Uncle Craig. He isn’t really my uncle, he’s my mom’s best friend. He wrote it because some kids at school teased me for being a boy who likes to knit, but I showed them knitting is cool! I think he hoped the story might help some other boys who like to sew and knit or even any kid who feels out of place. Are you surrounded by other fairies? Do you think you would feel out of place?
Bekki: Out of place, me? Never. i am extraordinary and special! Will you be starring in any more books?
Raffi: Gee, do you think I am a star? LOL. My uncle is working on a book about how I like to bake. I might share some of my recipes and show kids how much fun it is to be in the kitchen. I make white chocolate macadamia cookies! and who doesn’t like cookies!!!
Bekki: Yes, you are a sparkly star cos you didn’t let the teasing put you off doing what you love.
Bekki: It has been entertaining talking to you. If you like I can do a magic spell and turn you into anything you like for a few minutes.
Raffi: You are great to talk to, Bekki. You’re the first fairy i have ever met! i think you are great and I hope we can be long time friends. Thank you for the magic spell! I’d love to be a bird for a bit and see as much of the world as possible from the sky, as long as it isn’t raining.
Bekki hopes you liked her first ever interview. Now she wants be be a helpful fairy and tell you where you can find out more about Raffi and his uncle.
Here’s is the website for Raffi’s uncle. He is actually a singer too and his name is Craig Pomranz.
Remember we said there might be music? Well, have a listen to Uncle Craig singing about everyone being Different.
And if you want the book you can find it on Amazon.
And for Ireland and UK here is a link you can click on
I am very happy to say that my first ever guest blogger is going to be Raffi from “Made by Raffi”, a book by Craig Pomeranz.
Craig Pomeranz is a cabaret singer who has written a charming story about a little boy who loves to knit. When I first heard about Craig I was pretty envious. He is published by Frances Lincoln who do the Amazing Grace books. And his book is illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain who did the loveable artwork for My Two Grannies. What’s so special about this guy, I wondered.
Plenty, it turns out. Craig has a lot to say about what in means to be a boy or girl in these modern times. His book has a light touch but makes powerful points about identity, gender-roles, love and encouragement. You’ll see what I mean when the blog comes in.
Craig is a good sport and is going to let my character Bekki the Fairy interview his character Raffi. It should be fun and there might even be music!
So, can a girl get a job in science that she might actually enjoy? Uh, yeah!!! Mumbi Dunjwa has a very cool life.
Mumbi’s family come fromKenya and she lives in the US. She is a scientist and has spent a lot of time in the lab developing products for black hair.
Here is what she has to say about her company Naturaz :
“Our passion is to get you to love, handle and wear your beautiful natural hair, regardless of type, with ease, beauty and grace”
STEM and girls
As you might know lots of girls are great at maths and science when they are in school but not enough girls are making a career out of science. We are delighted to have Mumbi in our book showing how someone can have a cool career in the beauty industry using their science skills.
Mumbi had nice things to say about ‘A Fairy in the Family Again’:
“It would be great to contribute to your book and subsequently to inspire young black girls to not only pursue science but to love their hair.”
All the baby-sitters in the book have different hairstyles. They are schoolgirls so we couldn’t go too crazy with the styles. Mumbi talks about braids, extensions and relaxers and how to care for your hair.
Shea Moisture recently upset some of their core users by featuring a red-haired white model in their advertising.
Some users were upset, not only because Shea Moisture seemed to be suggesting that red and afro hair were similar in how they led to discrimination, but also because they were supposedly reformulating their products.
Geeky Mikita responded to the story by getting into the lab and mixing up her own products.
This is not to make light of the situation or hurt feelings but to remind girls that they are not at the mercy of big companies. Many people went online to share the names of lesser known, much-loved black-owned companies.
Response from Shea Moisture
Melissa from BlackHairOMG gave the Shea Moisture CEO, Rich Dennis, a chance to have his say and try and put things right. Her feature is here:
Studious STEM girls might like to read about the tree that gives us shea butter here.
My fairy books are available in English and Irish. Most kids in Ireland are studying Irish and dual language books can be very useful.
Reading a whole book in Irish is an achievement to be proud of. Here is some advice on using dual language books.
One suggestion is to pre-read the book in English and then switch to Irish the following day. The idea is that the memory of the story will be fresh in your child’s mind and they will be able to make a good guess at any unfamiliar words.
Another idea is to read the Irish book with your child, stopping when you come to any unfamiliar words. Of course you will have the translations to hand or a copy of the English book that you can consult but not your child.
You want your child to make their best guess at the meaning of the Irish words. Most children love attention and will do their best to puzzle out what the book is saying when you are there to encourage them.
Find a family member who can read aloud in Irish. Ask them to go into your child’s school to read the book. That gives a strong message about how important and valued Irish is to the family. I find that book reading followed by arts and crafts makes for a very pleasant school visit.
Keep it light and keep it fun.
Paper books in Irish about Bekki the Fairy
Previews of e-books on Kindle