S&S Children's scoops 'family-centred' picture-book series on Black hair

S&S Children's scoops 'family-centred' picture-book series on Black hair

Simon & Schuster Children’s Books is to launch a "heart-warming" picture book series about the beauty and versatility of Afro hair, by Tọlá Okogwu and Chanté Timothy.

Beth's Twists is the first instalment in the Daddy Do My Hair series, which focuses on the bond between father and child. It will publish on 26th May 2022, followed by a second, currently untitled, book in May 2023. 

Melissa Gitari, assistant editor, and Helen Mackenzie Smith, picture books publisher, bought world rights for two books in the previously self-published picture book series. Okogwu’s text was acquired from Claire Wilson at RCW and Timothy’s illustrations from Lydia Silver at the Darley Anderson Illustration Agency. 
 
Gitari said of the acquisition: "We are so thrilled to publish Tọlá Okogwu on both our fiction and picture books lists. Beth's Twists is a heart-warming, family-centred tale where the beauty and versatility of Afro hair takes centre stage. In a world where Black hair is often seen as ‘messy’ or ‘other’, it’s so important to provide Black children with positive images of themselves, and the Daddy Do My Hair series does this and more. Tọlá’s gorgeous and affirming story pairs perfectly with Chanté Timothy’s bold, child-friendly illustrations. This is a series that will set the picture book world alight!"

Okogwu is a journalist, author and hair care educator. She has written for publications including Black Ballad, Metro, Huffington Post and Refinery29. She now writes children's books, including the Aziza's Secret Fairy Door series (Macmillan), under the pen name Lola Morayo, and her middle-grade duology, Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun (S&S), which launches in June 2022.

She said: "I’m so thrilled to be working with S&S on the Daddy Do My Hair books. This series has a special place in my heart and I’m excited by this opportunity to work with the brilliant Chanté to breathe new life into it. The entire S&S Children’s team have been amazing and so supportive of my work and my hope is that readers will discover and love the series as it grows."

Timothy is a London-based illustrator who creates work that often explores different themes of diversity. Her work includes the illustrations for Malaika Adero’s A Black Woman Did That (Downtown Bookworks), and her pictures are also featured in Dapo Adeola's Hey You (Puffin) and the anthology Happy Here (Knights Of).

She said: "As my UK picture book debut, I'm super excited to introduce the world to Beth! Her bubbly personality is infectious and her bouncy twists have given me slight hair envy."