Q&A: Authors from the Hardie Grant Bright Light List



Bright Light brings together engaging stories and beautiful design for an exuberant collection of illustrated books, united by a vision to change the world – one conversation at a time.

The list builds on the themes that formed the foundations of the imprint - Gender, Environment, First Nations, Bodies, Character and Diversity – celebrating individuality, positivity, and resilience.



Author Q&A with Sandhya Parappukkaran


Which books have inspired your love of reading?


I loved reading the Funny Bones books by Allan Ahlberg as a child. The way the story begins— ‘In a dark, dark town there was a dark, dark street—and so on, makes it such a wonderful read aloud. I also loved the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books by May Gibbs, for the fantasy adventures and artwork.


What is your book about?


The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name is the story of Zimdalamashkermishkada, who tries to shrink his name as he starts at a new school. It is not until he befriends Elly that he finally finds the confidence to step into his long name.


What do you want young readers to take away from your book?


Have the confidence to be yourself. There’s no need to shrink yourself down for anyone. It would be lovely if young readers feel encouraged to explore the meaning and culture entwined into their names and be empowered to correct people when their names are mispronounced.


What was the inspiration behind your story?


My experience with own long name was the inspiration behind my story. I thought my name, which is a word from an Indian language was too hard to say, so I’d never correct people when they mispronounced it. But one day a friend, insisted I teach her how to say my name and she learned how to say it correctly. I felt that was an important message to share.

What feedback have you had from young readers?


Kids have told me they enjoyed reading The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name. I love it when they notice the orange yarn and its transformation through the book, which was a stroke of genius by the illustrator, Michelle Pereira. One child said the bird is complete at the same time Zimdalamashkermishkada’s name becomes complete. It’s a lovely feeling when young readers notice the details in the book.


If you could be a character from any children’s book, who would you be?


Can I have more than one? I would love to be Herbert Lemon from the Eerie-by-the-sea series by Thomas Taylor, and be a lost and founder, living in a cosy cellar in a grand hotel. I would also love to be Mim Cohen from Katrina Nannestad’s Traveling Bookshop series. Roaming the world in a bookshop that is bigger on the inside sounds perfectly delightful.


What’s the best thing about being an author/illustrator?


Creating a picture book is a wonderful experience. It is a collaboration, done with many people— the illustrator, editor, publisher and book designer. The best thing about it is sharing a reading with children and seeing their reaction.


Sandhya Parappukkaran is the author of The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name and Amma’s Sari, both published by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (£11.99)


Author Q&A with Scott Stuart


Which books have inspired your love of reading?


The Redwall series by Brian Jacques were the first books that I remember really falling in love with as a kid. I spent many weekends exploring libraries and bookstores, looking for every book series, and MANY nights staying up late, with a torch under the covers, reading into the early hours. Mice going on epic adventures, battling evil cats, discovering new worlds - it completely captured my imagination, and I'm constantly looking for the next book that will capture me just as much.


What is your book about?


My books are about learning to have the confidence to be completely yourself, and celebrating all the amazing things that make you, you.


What do you want young readers to take away from your book?


I really want my books to open conversations that kids often wouldn't have with their parents. To explore deeply held beliefs around things like life, masculinity, gender - and ultimately find a place of acceptance of themselves, and for parents, acceptance of their kids.


What was the inspiration behind your story?


My son has inspired a lot of my work - as he grows up to become a young man, the things he questions and struggles with, I try to answer in my books. How to be a Real Man came about because because of his curiosity around what a "real man" was, and exploring my answer as a book allowed me to share thoughts that I often wouldn't have the chance to share with him in day to day life. The Very First You came about as I tried to express to him just how special and unique of a person he is, as we all are, and I tried to show how all the things that make him, him make him completely unique in this world.

What feedback have you had from young readers?


I've gotten incredible feedback from kids and parents who, through my books, have been able to have conversations with each other that they usually wouldn't have had. From learning more about each other as people, to discovering parts of themselves they hadn't seen before, I've often been told that my books are just as much for parents as they are for kids. But the most memorable feedback was when a child came up to me and told me I was their 2nd favourite author. And then walked off. Who is your favourite author?! I still need to know!


If you could be a character from any children’s book, who would you be?


I think I already am basically Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. But if I could be anyone, I would probably be Artemis Fowl. Best friend is an elf, gets to go on magical adventures, time travel, cool tech. Sounds pretty great to me.


What’s the best thing about being an author/illustrator?


Getting to spend my days coming up with entirely new worlds and adventures - living in my imagination and then getting to see the things I come up with out there in the world, being enjoyed by kids. The. Best. Job. Ever.


Scott Stuart is the author of The Very First You and How to Be a Real Man, both published by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (£9.99)


Author Q&A with Eliza Hull


What is your book about?


Come Over to My House invites young children into diverse homes that represent disability in an authentic way. In each house you get to meet families with disability including a mother who is d/Deaf, a father who is an amputee, a parent who has dwarfism, a mother who is blind, and a family who is neurodiverse among others. The way that each family creatively adapt due to their disability, is what makes them fun, interesting and unique.


What do you want young readers to take away from your book?


Come Over to My House provides children with an authentic representation of disability, one that isn't sensationalised or represented as a deficit. I hope that young children learn that disability isn't something that ought to be fixed, instead disability and diversity is what makes this world beautiful. I think young children will learn from the book that disabled people are creative, adaptable and ingenious and that a home with disabled people is not something to be feared, but instead celebrated.


What was the inspiration behind your story?


I am a proud disabled person. I have a physical disability, 'Charcot Marie Tooth', which affects the way I walk, I have muscle and sensation loss and fall over regularly. The inspiration behind the book has grown from lack of representation of stories about disability told in a way that is authentic from lived experience. I wanted to show children that disability isn't something that ought to be feared, in fact disability can add to a person, it can make you more creative, fun and inventive. This is the book I wish I had when I was growing up, to make me feel less alone when I was navigating a world that wasn't build for me.


What’s the best thing about being an author/illustrator?


I love seeing people's reactions to the stories I create. I love changing people's minds and shifting perceptions and attitudes about disability.


Eliza Hull is the co-author of Come Over to My House, published later this year by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (£11.99)


Author Q&A with Sally Rippin


Which books have inspired your love of reading?


Obviously, there are too many to name, but I guess the books that inspired me to work with Eliza Hull on Come Over To My House were two collections of autobiographical stories: Growing Up Disabled In Australia edited by Carly Findlay and We’ve Got This, edited by Eliza herself. Both books share stories from people in our disability community, highlighting the challenges they have had to overcome, but also the resourcefulness, adaptability and creativity many of them possesses. I had held so many pre-conceptions of what it was like to live with a disability, but both these books are a great reminder of how much we can learn by listening to the stories of others.


What is your book about?


Eliza and I wanted to create a book that invites readers into the homes of people living with a disability. We wanted it to be playful and fun and, above all, normalising disability both for young readers who are non-disabled as well as those who may see themselves reflected in the stories. There are very few books or films that portray people with a disability as the heroes of their story, so we want to change this with our book.


What do you want young readers to take away from your book?


While people living with a disability may face challenges different to people in the non-disabled community, once we are invited into each other’s homes and listen to each other’s stories, we will most likely find we have more in common than we first thought.


What is the inspiration behind your story?


I had a book called Come Over To My House when I was growing up, written by Theo LeSeig, otherwise known as Dr Suess. I adored this book as it invited readers into the homes of people from all over the world and showed how differently they lived. I used to spend hours studying all the amazing houses and trying to decide which one I’d like to live in most. As a child, it was a great introduction to different cultures and traditions, and I loved getting to know all the different families. We hope to create the same feeling in young readers poring over Daniel’s gorgeous illustrations as they are invited into the homes of all of our characters.


What feedback have you had from young readers?


It will be wonderful to receive feedback from readers, but I would say, in my experience as a children’s author of over twenty-five years, children are infinitely curious, and we are excited at the thought of this book germinating lots of great discussions in homes right around the world. If you could be a character from any children's book, who would you be? Max from Where The Wild Things Are, though I suspect I already am. I only need to sit at my desk, ready to write, and my imagination immediately takes me away to other lands.


What is the best thing about being an author/illustrator?


Everything. It is literally the best job in the world. I work from home and get to use my imagination for a living!


Sally Rippin is the co-author of Come Over to My House, published later this year by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (£11.99)








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