Europa Contributor Madeleina Kay has gone and done it again by getting stuck in on a new book featuring her now famous illustrations. We got a sneak preview of some of her work, as well as a little about the story behind the book and why it is so important to Madeleina. Madeleina needs your help in getting the book published, so have a read and maybe drop over to her crowdfunding page and help her out.

After the success of ‘Go Back To Where You Came From!’ (GBTWYCF), my first children’s picture book about refugees, I decided to write a sequel with an explicitly pro-European message.

I wrote GBTWYCF in response to the rise in hate crime against refugees and migrants following the referendum result. The book tells the story of a pet wolf (Alba White Wolf), who is forced by war to leave her family behind and flee her home country to seek sanctuary in a country where it is customary to keep dogs as pets… Not wolves! The book explores wider themes of diversity, tolerance and acceptance, featuring an LGBTQ family who take the refugee wolf in and provide her a loving home. The aim of writing the book was to help educate children about the plight of refugees and to promote empathy and foster discussions with parents and teachers about important issues.

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The cover of the new book by Madeleina Kay

The sequel I am writing to GBTWYCF features the same characters but will be about Alba White Wolf’s adventures in Europe. The story is set at Christmas time and she visits all 27 EU countries with her owner, Frank the Postman. They have been given the job of delivering 28 V.I.Ps (Very Important Packages) to the member states containing EU stars to put on top of their Christmas trees. When they return, they discover the 28th package doesn’t have an address, so they decide to keep the missing star safe on top of their tree until somebody comes to claim it… Alba White Wolf and Frank the Postman send illustrated postcards back home with educational information about each country they have visited. The aim of this book will be to promote European cultural diversity and help educate British children about the language, culture, architecture, landscape and history of the EU member states.

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One of the illustrations by Madeleina in the book

Using Crowdfunding

As with GBTWYCF, I am crowdfunding this second book. Parents can pledge for copies for their children, or backers can donate to support the project which will get free copies to schools and libraries. The book will hopefully be published in September and will make an ideal Christmas present for children. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/alba-white-wolf-goes-to-europe

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Researching information for the story book is proving to be a very interesting and informative experience. Having only visited 3 EU member states (France, Spain and the Netherlands) I realised my cultural knowledge was vastly insufficient to inform the book. So I have been scouring the internet to discover fun facts as well as factual information through online articles, YouTube videos and tourist guides (Rubik’s cubes were invented in Hungary, you can fly in a hot air balloon over the capital of Lithuania and public transport is free in Estonia!). In addition, I have been utilising the cultural wealth of my social media networks by putting out posts to request information from my pro-European Facebook friends. I was amazed at the response I have received to these posts, which have proven to be highly entertaining and informative (although some of the comments about the excessive drinking culture and high levels of prostitution in certain countries are not appropriate content for a children’s book, but useful information for tourists!). In fact, I think people are rather enjoying showing off their cultural knowledge… Some posts have received over 70 comments, with people leaving paragraphs of information and video links, and others commenting on how useful or interesting it is to find out about the different countries.

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Positive reactions

All the information I have collected will help to inform the illustrations and the written content of the story, which I hope will make it a valuable and engaging educational resource. The publication of the book is being supported by the Young European Movement (YEM) for which I hold the role of Communications Officer. They are keen to support efforts which promote European culture and education about Europe. So we are publishing my illustrations on the YEM Facebook page to promote the Crowdfunder and asking what people love about the country depicted in the illustration. Some of the comments we have received are lovely and it is great to see the pride and joy that people have in Europe.

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I have definitely stepped-up the quality of the illustrations, to try and capture, as accurately as possible, the architecture and landscape of the different countries. I am also scanning black and white copies of the illustrations before I paint them, with the hope of also producing a colouring book. It is interesting to see the different responses I have received to the illustrations, sometimes there has been a greater reaction to the black and white versions of the image. A.C.Grayling even retweeted my monochrome depiction of Prague!

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My crowdfund backers have been doing an excellent job of retweeting and sharing my crowdfund on social media which I am really grateful for (special thanks to @MrDominicBuxton @SpaceAngel964 @ChelsClive – please follow them for some excellent pro-EU tweets, if you don’t already!). Publicity and awareness is crucial to crowdfunding and I am hopeful that everyone’s joint efforts will help me to raise the funds needed to print and distribute the books. Of course, this does mean that the occasional twitter troll will get wind of the project and unleash a torrent of abuse, but it isn’t hard to put them in their place. After all, leavers will often justify themselves by claiming that we are “leaving the EU not Europe”, so I ask them – what is wrong with promoting the European culture of those 27 countries? Only a racist could object to that.