Bristol looks particularly beautiful in the sunshine; people smiling and laughing, enjoying a cool drink in one of the cafes along the harbour side; boats bobbing along on the water. It is a lovely city- and is now the home of Book Island.
I was going to meet the founder of Book Island, Greet Pauwelijn, at the Watershed where her children were taking part in a dream catcher workshop.
Creating 'Book Island' came from Greet's desire to bring some of the amazing stories written in other languages to the English speaking world. In 2009, she was working in New Zealand, translating books from Polish into Dutch. Having two young children, Greet became interested in picture books- and was disappointed with what she found. Being a translator meant that she had access to stories in languages other than English and could see a real contrast between books available in English and those from other European countries. She could see that many wonderful stories had been overlooked and was determined to do something about this!
Greet immediately knew which book she would love to translate -a Polish classic from 1939 written by Julian Tuwim who Greet described as the 'Roald Dahl of Poland'! She decided to publish 'Mr Miniscule and the Whale' in both English and Dutch at the same time and bought the rights for both.
Having contacts in the publishing world through her translation work meant that Dwiesiostry (the Two Sisters) publishers knew Greet and were happy to take a chance on an unknown when others might not have done. I am quite sure Greet's warm personality and incredible work ethic had something to do with their decision as well!
And that was how Book Island started!
Five years on, Greet and her family are in the UK, having chosen Bristol as their base. Book Island have thirteen stunning and varied picture books on their list, only publishing titles that are high quality, meaningful and beautiful. Greet wants to take risks with her choices, not considering 'safe options' in her quest to produce books that people will cherish and want to keep forever.
And that is certainly what she has achieved so far!
'The Lion and The Bird' by Marianne Dubuc is a lovely story about a unusual friendship. Beautifully illustrated, it really is one to treasure and share again and again.
The bold, colourful illustrations are what first attracted me to 'Fox and Goldfish' by Nils Pieters. Goldfish is unwell and Fox wants to share an incredible adventure with him before it is too late. And so they travel together... With themes of loss, adventure, love and saying goodbye, it is a powerful book offering plenty to discuss.
This is the world's best postman- Tim! He very kindly agreed to model 'Here Comes Mr Postmouse' for me! This is a wonderful book full of fantastic illustrations that tell a million stories! As Mr Postmouse makes his deliveries, you get a peek into the homes of each residence he delivers to! It is great fun and a book which needs to be looked at and loved over and over!
I know Greet has great plans for Book Island's future! Thank you to her- and her lovely boys- for meeting with me!
if you want to find out more about Book Island and their titles, go to their website:
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