Macmillan Children’s Books has swooped in a two-book deal for the debut children’s title from Marvyn Harrison, founder of the Dope Black Dads community.
Barry Timms, publishing director for preschool, acquired world rights in all languages from Oscar Janson-Smith at Kruger Cowne. I Love Me! will publish in paperback in May 2022, ahead of Father's Day. A second title will follow in 2023.
Illustrated by Diane Ewen, I Love Me! is billed as “a warm and welcoming collection of positive affirmations for preschool-aged children, designed to boost confidence, enhance self-image and promote resilience and happiness”. Inspired by the author’s relationship with his own two young children, the book charts a typical family week with the characters beginning each day with a different positive affirmation and exploring its value as the day unfolds. It includes tips for parents and carers keen to set up a similar practice with their children.
Dope Black Dads started as a closed WhatsApp group between a handful of fathers in 2018 and has grown across social media, web, live events and a Webby Award-winning podcast to become a series of communities. There are now more than 250,000 members across the UK, US and South Africa.
Harrison said: “I Love Me! is a very exciting and personal project which takes the daily practice of affirmations that I do with my children to support them with mental resilience and self-love as I raise them in a time where being Black can potentially create challenges other children wouldn’t have to consider. The book is fun and informative and a great way for parents who know their child is special, unique or different to ensure the negativity that may be spoken to them isn’t internalised too deeply.”
I Love Me! is MCB’s second book with Ewen following Coming to England by Floella Benjamin, which has sold almost 10,000 copies according to the publisher. Ewen is also the illustrator of Never Show a T-Rex a Book by Rashmi Sirdeshpande (Puffin) which won the Queen’s Knickers Award in 2021.
She said: "I'm so excited to be working with Marvyn on this life-affirming book for the youngest of children. I think they'll really enjoy chatting about it to each other, their parents and carers.”
Timms commented: “It’s been a genuine privilege to work with Marvyn on I Love Me! – a unique chance to set so many young children off on a path of greater confidence and self-belief. The authenticity brought to the book by both Marvyn and Diane made this a must-have for Macmillan Children’s Books, and we’re excited to think it’ll soon be out there in the world.”
Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, m.d. of Macmillan Children’s Books, added: “We are delighted to welcome Marvyn Harrison to Macmillan Children’s Books, and to be able to pair him with the wonderful Diane Ewen. We are certain this will be a winning combination, and help to bring Harrison’s unique voice and tried-and-tested affirmations practice to children and parents around the world.”