Stormzy's imprint at PRH, #Merky Books, will publish its first children's book in September, celebrating 50 iconic British figures from underrepresented communities to inspire, encourage and empower children.
Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength is a comic strip-style book aiming to challenge representation in children's books. It has been written by Sophia Thakur and illustrated by Denzell Dankwah, and will feature an introduction by Stormzy. Out on 16th September, the publisher said 8% of the proceeds will be donated to the #Merky Foundation charity. It follows the release of Stormzy’s single "Superheroes" last year, which was a tribute to real life heroes.
Tallulah Lyons, assistant editor for #Merky Books, said: “It was so important to us at #Merky Books to publish a children’s book filled with positive representation, allowing the younger generation to see themselves represented in a way that they may not have experienced before. Unfortunately there is still a distinct lack of representation in children’s books and we know that it is vital that children see themselves in the books they read growing up. Superheroes is packed full of amazing modern day ‘superheroes’, all of whom have taken their unique talent, passion and skill and have turned it into something extraordinary. I hope after reading this book, children everywhere are inspired and know that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.”
The superheroes involved in the project include athlete Dina Asher-Smith, comedian Mo Gilligan, writer Candice Carty-Williams, baker Liam Charles, model Jourdan Dunn, scientist Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, writer-director Reggie Yates, ex-footballer Ian Wright and many more from across the fields of art, activism, sport, film, TV, music, science, food, fashion and literature.
Thakur said: “The earliest seeds that are planted often influence the rest of the garden. If from a young age, we only really meet Blackness from a position of weakness, of slavery and shootings … stereotypes and racist media … as children, we don’t get an opportunity to develop a healthy and confident outlook on what it means to be Black. It was important to work on this book to plant a new seed of celebration. Of Black excellence into our young minds who will hopefully bloom into their very own superheroes. Confident and powerful.”
Illustrator Dankwah added: “Working on this project has been an exciting experience as I grew up with a love for superheroes and cartoons. Since my illustrations are heavily influenced by comic books, this was a great opportunity to portray such huge figures and role models as heroes for young readers to look up to. This is a dream come true as I've always wanted to illustrate a book and I'm grateful to have collaborated with Sophia and the amazing team at #Merky Books.”