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Picture Book Club #13 Alanna Books

November saw us welcome Anna McQuinn from Alanna Books to PBC. I’ve been wanting Anna to come for a long time and so it was such a pleasure to finally be able to say hello and make a Zeki cake!

Anna has so much experience and wisdom to share. Anna sort of fell into being a publisher by accident as part of her journey to bring her character Lulu to life in book form. If you don’t know Lulu then your should get to know her. She’s a lovely little character, living a busy life going to the library, growing flowers, adopting a kitten, becoming a big sister (to Zeki). Her stories are the everyday adventures of pre-school life. Nothing dramatic or wacky happens but that is the joy of these stories. They are the ordinary adventures that every child will recognise and identify with. Anna could not find a UK publisher for Lulu but, using her previous experience from working for publishers, she was able to attract more attention overseas. Lulu now has a big following in the US (where she is called Lola). Frustrated at the lack of interest in Lulu in the UK, Anna decided to publish the books herself and Alanna Books was born.

As well as the Lulu books, Alanna also publishes other inclusive titles and has had success with buying rights to overseas titles and translating them. It was very interesting to hear more about how international the children’s book market is. That’s a perspective that we haven’t really explored in PBC before.

I was especially keen to discuss inclusion in books and publishing with Anna. I’ll be blogging about that separately as there isn’t space to do credit to the discussion here.

Anna brought along a huge range of fabulous books for us to look at. In addition to her Alanna titles, it was a privilege to see some of her extensive collection of picture books. We had an especially interesting discussion about foreign language books and how much of the story can be interpreted from the pictures alone. I was delighted to see ‘Whistle for Willie’ by Ezra Jack Keats; a book I have not seen for 45 years but which instantly took me back to my childhood. I may even have shed a tear.

Thank you Anna for being so generous with your time, experience and books. You’re welcome at PBC anytime!