The Emma Press has acquired world rights to My Sneezes Are Perfect, the debut children's poetry collection by Rakhshan Rizwan. The collection has been co-written with her six-year-old son Yusuf and illustrated by Benjamin Phillips.
Publisher Emma Wright acquired world rights to the title, which was chosen from a total of 105 children's poetry collection manuscripts submitted to the publisher in an open submissions call. The collection will be published in February 2021.
The poems in My Sneezes Are Perfect will be narrated by 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, readers willl see him moving from the Netherlands to America, with the pandemic starting just as he's beginning to settle in. In the later part of the book, the reader will see his funny observations about online school and the strange new world, says the publisher.
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.”
Rizwan commented: "I wrote the book while we were in the throes of the pandemic. I was busy homeschooling Yusuf, helping him read a ton of Mo Willems' 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."
Rizwan is the author of Kashmiri Life Narratives (Routledge, 2020) and Paisley (The Emma Press, 2017).