Sharon F Jones interview for Pearl Power! November 24 2014
Sharon F. Jones, children's book blogger and writer, has reviewed Pearl Power and what's more, done a fantastic interview with Mel about her inspiration and the desperate need for more stories with gender equality for kids.
S: Your daughter Pearl was the inspiration behind the books. Were you fed up with the stereotyping that you can still find in children’s books and toys in general?
M: Most definitely. Especially with toys and advertising. I saw yesterday that ASDA describe Minecraft as ‘boy’s toys’, where as my daughter is obsessed with it. I also saw that there is now a JENGA FOR GIRLS… which is obviously pink! It’s ridiculous that in 2014, this appalling stereotyping is going on, and when my five year old daughter, Pearl declared that girls can become nurses and boys can become doctors, I just had to try and do something about it. It’s damaging little girls and boys so much.
S: You’re best known for your cool colouring books and products range, how did you get to grips with writing a picture book?
M: It was so easy! I had wanted to produce a children’s book that empowers little girls for some time and one night I awoke with the idea for ‘Pearl Power’ and pretty much wrote the entire book into my phone there and then (before going back to sleep)! The illustrations were much more difficult, but the story was a flash of inspiration.
S: How did you come up with the concept of tackling gender stereotyping to a very young audience?
M: Obviously you can’t shout these issues at children. It had to be fun, engaging, It needed a strong character, with personality and humour, and the issue had to tackled subtely: for example, the mum is promoted and obviously has a high-powered job, the mum loads boxes onto the removal lorry. I’m hoping that children won’t even notice this (as they shouldn’t) but the idea that women can achieve these things will stick… if they hear it from enough sources. The story-line involving Pearl’s day at her new school is less subtle but is amusing and doesn’t take itself too seriously.