Book Island: On Publishing Up

by Greet Pauwelijn 

E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, once said: ‘Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth…’

At publishing house Book Island, we aim to publish up, not down. We publish picture books for the brilliant, resilient children of today, who grow up in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual world. We select titles from around the world and translate them into English, building bridges between cultures. Thanks to our focus on inspiring stories, stunning illustrations and our high production values we create books to last forever.

I founded Book Island in 2012 in New Zealand, after having worked as a linguist and literary translator in Belgium. In May 2016 we moved the family and the company to Bristol, which turned out to be the perfect place for our independent, family-owned business. 

Book Island is still very small, but thanks to our partnership with Thames & Hudson our picture books are now available from over 30 countries around the world.  While their reps travel the globe with our titles, we tend to focus more on our local market, and Bristol in particular. We run a lot of local outreach projects, like our Green Satchel Project and the Picture Book Trail on Gloucester Road, which allows us to expand our Book Island community.

For this blog we thought we’d collect some facts about picture books in translation and some of our titles. We will be sharing more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so do follow us @bookisland or @bookislandbooks, if you’d like to find out more about Book Island. 


All Book Island titles are available from all good book shops and gift stores in the UK, and from our website. Please remember that by supporting your local bookshop and Book Island you help us bring more picture books gems from around the world to the UK. 

This was a guest blog by Greet Pauwelijn, founder of Book Island publishers. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of FCBG. 

One response to “Book Island: On Publishing Up”

  1. Simone Fraser says:

    When I think about Book Island’s beginnings as the profundity and sheer diverse beauty of its writers and illustrators, I genuinely get a lump in my throat and misty eyes. I was moved by The Lion and the Bird and often have thought of Lion’s question, “And you?” followed a couple of pages later by the one-note illustration of the bird’s return and feel the sweet joy of it. The tender, uncomplicated friendship between two vastly different creatures should be seen by every human on the planet and this story will always be necessary. I am pleased that Book Island has so many as-yet-unknown authors and illustrators for myself and others to discover. Thank you!