NEW AUTHOR: Jordan Stephens
RIZZLE KICKS member Jordan Stephens is to publish three books with Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
The first, a life-affirming picture book, is due out in 2021.
The book is inspired by Stephens’ love for his late grandmothers and is an upbeat reminder to us all to enjoy the journey, open our hearts and make friends. It plays a crucial role in encouraging empathy and compassion as well as changing attitudes to emotional health and wellbeing.
Stephens, a musician, actor, presenter – and now children’s author – says: “I wrote the book in an attempt to deconstruct my own uncomfortable search for something. In a world of people, colour and connection, I found myself searching for destinations when in fact I’m always where I need to be.”
Stephen’s debut children’s picture book tells the story of Sunny, a little girl who loves “the sweet, dusty chaos of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle”. When her Gran gives her a thousand-piece puzzle to complete Sunny is delighted but when she gets to the end she realises that she is one piece short. Sunny sets off to find the missing piece and makes some new friends along the way.
Stephens adds: “Ultimately the book is about finding peace in creating pictures and taking solace in their beauty, rather than hurrying to finish them and wishing that you could start again. In a world of targets sometimes we need to shoot the breeze. The book also encourages children to understand the cultural differences between families that live in England as well as the world, and to revel in how eye opening those differences are. Whether that be Caribbean, South Asian, British or otherwise.”
Emma Blackburn, publishing director Illustrated Publishing, bought world rights in three books in a six-figure deal covering picture books, fiction and poetry from Julia Churchill at AM Heath.
Blackburn said: “Jordan is a really exciting addition to the Bloomsbury Children’s Books list. His writing is warm, evocative, full of heart and draws on his own experiences of growing up. He has a real passion for children’s books; a strong connection with, and understanding of children; and an energy and commitment to creating books that will make a real and lasting difference. Jordan is an enormously likeable, clever and thoughtful person who offers something completely unique to the Bloomsbury list. We are hugely excited to be his publishing home and look forward to creating many successful books with him.”
Having been publicly open with his own struggles surrounding mental health, Stephens’ has also been very active in creating awareness around the stigma attached to it and helping young people to open up about how they feel.
His mental health campaign #IAMWHOLE reached over 120 million people online and made enough of an impact to be mentioned in the Houses of Parliament. More recently, Jordan wrote an article in The Guardian about the negative effects that hyper-masculinity has on men’s wellbeing and has since been invited on television and at festivals to further discuss the matter.
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