by Dapo Adeola
Our Reflecting Realities report is an annual survey that reviews the quality and extent of ethnic minority presence in children’s literature published in the UK. In each report we provide data and analysis of the books produced and consider the extent to which the books reflect the realities, as well as, broaden the outlook of their readership. We address the shortfalls of poor portrayals and highlight examples of great books we encounter as part of the review process. This year’s report celebrates your book as an example of a high quality inclusive and representative book...
What does the term Reflecting Realities mean to you?
Reflecting realities means not only telling stories that reflect the truth of the world we live in now, stories that allow everyone to be and feel seen, but also telling stories that allow people to imagine and envision the possibilities of a reality where they can be whatever they want to be. I’ve heard it said that it’s significantly harder to be what you don’t see examples of yourself as when looking out at the world, this was very true of my own childhood, so if I can create the kind of work that makes it easier for others to connect those dots then I’ve done my job well.
What inspired you to write/illustrate your book Look Up!?
From a character design place my main inspiration for Rocket came from one of my nieces. I really wanted to design a character that captured her curiosity, determination and focused yet fun nature. I also wanted to capture in the book itself a character and world that many children can connect with and relate to. I like to think it worked lol.
Was there a particularly memorable book that shaped your early reading experiences and set you on your reading journey? What was it about this particular title(s) that appealed to you?
As much as they haven’t arguably aged well, Roald Dahl’s books were my earliest remembered introduction to reading for pleasure. They provided me with the perfect mix of fantasy that allowed me to escape without ever leaving my room, and reality that allowed me to relate to the heroes in his stories. Hey were also just dark enough to thrill me but humorous enough to make me laugh. I loved his descriptive way with words most of all. With my favourites been “The Witches”, “George’s Marvellous Medicine” and “Fantastic Mr Fox”.
What are some of the major influences on your work and how do you decide on your subjects?
The most major influences on my work can be found in the animation I watch and the comics and books I read growing up. My artistic influences are far too many to list but noticeable influences are Ronald Searle, Quentin Blake and Marc Boutavant. To be honest I choose the stories I work on based on how different they are from each other and how much they allow me to stretch what people currently know me for in my work. As I’m new to the industry, this is something I do so as to avoid being pigeonholed too early. I’ve learned so much working this way, and I’m hoping it’s made me the best storyteller I can be for when I start to write my own stories.