Acquired: pandemic-themed children’s poetry debut
The Emma Press has acquired world rights to My Sneezes Are Perfect, the debut children’s poetry collection by Rakhshan Rizwan, author of Kashmiri Life Narratives (Routledge, 2020) and Paisley (The Emma Press, 2017).
Publisher Emma Wright chose My Sneezes Are Perfect from the 2019/20 call for manuscripts, from a total of 105 children’s poetry collection manuscripts. The book, co-written with Rizwan’s 6-year-old son Yusuf and illustrated by Hastings illustrator Benjamin Phillips, will be published February 2021.
The poems in My Sneezes Are Perfect are in the voice of a small boy who wants to tell you about his family and all the things he’s learning all the time. As the collection progresses, we see him moving from the Netherlands to America, with COVID-19 coming on the scene just as he’s starting to settle in. In the later part of the book, the reader sees his funny observations about online school and the strange new world.
Rizwan, who is based in California, via Pakistan, Germany and the Netherlands, said: “I wrote the book while we were in the throes of the pandemic. I was busy homeschooling Yusuf, helping him read a tonne of Mo Willems’s pigeon books, and simultaneously also struggling with scholarly writing which under the circumstances seemed much too onerous. Writing poems with Yusuf seemed like the perfect antidote to beat the COVID-19 blues and to chronicle these strangely significant times we are living in. We just had great fun writing it and so, finding out that the poems were going to be published was an extra cherry on our cake.”
Wright said: “Rakhshan’s approach to children’s poetry is fresh and invigorating, and I laughed aloud many times while reading it. Somehow reading these poems about the pandemic makes it all seem less awful, even while Rakhshan is pointing out how terrible and awful it is. Benjamin’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the poems, and I hope that Yusuf’s collaboration with Rakhshan will inspire more children to write poetry – with or without their parents.”
My Sneezes Are Perfect
ISBN 978-1-912915-68-2 / 96 pages / 18 February 2021 / £8.99