Oxford University Press will publish The Pirate Mums, an LGBTQ+ picture book written by Bluebird communications director Jodie Mullish. The book will be illustrated by Lydia Corry.
Peter Marley, senior commissioning editor for picture books, acquired world rights in a two-book deal at auction, from Anwen Hooson at Bird Literary Agency. Illustration rights were negotiated with Claire Cartey at Holroyde Cartey Limited.
The Pirate Mums, to be published in June 2021 to coincide with Pride month, is the story of a boy called Billy and his two "larger-than-life swashbuckling" mums. Billy begins the story wishing his family could be more like everyone else's, but he soon comes to appreciate their uniqueness when his mums' nautical knowledge saves the day on a school trip to the beach.
Mullish commented: "I was moved to write The Pirate Mums after my wife and I searched for picture books featuring LGBTQ+ families to read to our twin daughters, wanting them to see their own experience reflected back at them. The choice was limited to say the least, something I found really upsetting. My wife challenged me to write a story for our girls and The Pirate Mums was the result. I’m delighted to be publishing with OUP and was bowled over by their choice of illustrator—Lydia’s work is full of joy and vigour."
The title will be published under Mullish's married name, Jodie Lancet-Grant. Mullish is a communications director at Pan Macmillan, where she has worked on non-fiction books for Bluebird. She has over 10 years of publicity and marketing experience in the industry.
Publication of her debut book will be accompanied by a "huge" PR campaign to celebrate families with same sex parents and to encourage empathy for all families. Speaking about the campaign, Mullish said: "I’m excited to work with schools, booksellers, media and festivals to lead a campaign which will see the everyday experience of children of same-sex couples emerge from the closet and into the spotlight."
Marley added: "We fell in love with The Pirate Mums as soon as we read it, and felt even more compelled to want to publish it after hearing about Jodie’s motivation for putting pen to paper. First and foremost, The Pirate Mums is an absolutely brilliant story—a rollicking adventure that children will want to pick up again and again—but we’re also excited to see how Jodie’s playful narrative will gently challenge the adult reader’s assumptions. There are many authentic and important reasons for publishing Jodie’s story and we’re thrilled to be her chosen publisher."