Nigeria was the country in which Kio Global was born. In a pristine children's bookshop in busy commercial Lagos, Chimaechi Allan found zero books that reflected the local children and languages. Further, she found so many teachers who wanted more for their students, and would want to see their culture reflected in the curriculum. The Wedding Week was developed in partnership with teachers in Lagos, Nigeria and London, England, to 'marry' culture and the curriculum for a world-class classroom.
Like many cultures, the traditional Nigerian wedding often takes place in a rural setting. Drawing both rural and urban landscapes in The Wedding Week presented another great opportunity for the illustrator to create different backdrops, for children to see a variety of settings, and for rural readers to see their environment reflected. We couldn't pass up an opportunity to show the rich red of the untarmacked earth of Africa, and Lagos's new suspension bridge. What colour is the background where you are (green, grey, gold, red)? How many Lagos landmarks can you find in the story?
From the aptly named Meridian Primary School, Cambridgeshire, you can trace the longitudinal line across the world that links Europe to West Africa, where The Wedding Week is set.
The picture book's author Chimaechi Allan shared at a special assembly how books are made, and the multiple skills and talents the children have that they could use in writing and publishing. (Imagine getting paid for daydreaming, or being good at spelling!)
The eagle eyed children spot the difference between a first draft pencil rough by illustrator Amber Cooper-Davies, and her final artwork. It's good to know that it's not only children who have to make corrections on their work!
To close this event, the refurbished school library was officially opened! The next time they sit alone with a book, these children will know how many people worked together to bring it to them.
So what's new in African literature? Every summer, the Royal African Society throws Africa Writes to tell us exactly that. Held at the British Library, with speakers from all over the continent and diaspora, Africa Writes has sessions on everything from how to get published to the Caine Prize list - and now children's workshops for the first time.
This year Kio Global was invited to run workshops on The Wedding Week.
Thanks to @EclecticSarah for these snaps. If you'd like to book an event, email us on chimaechi [at] kioglobal [dot] com.
Just a few of the brilliant thank you letters that Year 2 wrote after The Wedding Week event at Great Wilbraham Primary School, Cambridgeshire.
Cake, dancing and careers are only part of what we cover in The Wedding Week events for all primary school ages. If you'd like to book an event, email chimaechi [at] kioglobal [dot] com.
Armed with manuscript, proofs, roughs and the finished book, author Chimaechi Allan visited St Mary's Junior School in Cambridge for International Week. In the first school event since publishing The Wedding Week, students brought the book to life by drawing and writing their own final page, learning how books are made, and (of course!) doing some dancing!
There was even a gecko present!
Many thanks to the staff and students at St Mary's for a great day of reading, discussion and learning how people celebrate all around the world.
To book an event for your primary or secondary school, email chimaechi [at] kioglobal [dot] com.
It's been a wonderful journey as you may have seen on this blog - seeking an illustrator, finding the brilliant collage artist Amber Cooper-Davies, raising the funding, graphic designer Zoe Waring joining the team, translating the text into three African languages, checking the proofs, making the eBook and now, receiving the printed paperback!
The eBook is available in hundreds of countries: every territory with iTunes or local Amazon store. The paperback is available with global shipping from the Kio store, and will be in more local locations in the coming months. We look forward to seeing your reviews online.
Interview by Black Book Swap, March 2015 in London.
A funny thing happened in Lagos, Nigeria: While on holiday from publishing multicultural children’s books in London, Chimaechi Allan discovered a bookshop with no books featuring African children. After this she founded KioGlobal.com, a company that would join the dots and distribute multicultural and multilingual children’s books all over the world.
While wedding planning in 2014, a talking lizard took Chimaechi on a journey through wedding traditions around the world. She wrote down what he said. The Wedding Week, published in March 2015, is Chimaechi’s first book.