Frann Preston-Gannon is one of the best known and best-loved authors and illustrators working in children’s books. She has written many of her own books and illustrated works for many other authors across various publishers. Her debut picture book, The Journey Home, was published 10 years ago and the messages within remain as important today as they were a decade ago. In this special interview for NSSM, Frann reflects on her publishing journey so far and explains why The Journey Home is a perfect fit for NSSM and our current times.
How does it feel to be celebrating 10 years as a published author and illustrator?!
It can often be hard, as an author, to appreciate how much has been accomplished. The nature of the job means when a book is published, you are often already working on something that will publish a year or so later, which can lead to a loss of perspective. I was really glad to have had the opportunity to mark the occasion of 10 years as an author with this lovely anniversary edition of my first book and it’s helped me reflect on just what an amazing decade it has been!
The Journey Home ends with hope – that tomorrow could bring a brighter day, a better future, but did you imagine when you wrote the book that the messages in the book would still be so pertinent 10 years on?
Unfortunately, I feel climate change feels a lot closer than it did 10 years ago. This conversation has been happening for decades, but it is now in our collective consciousness in a way it never has been before.
I was very conscious of ending The Journey Home with a glimmer of hope. I think we owe children the truth about what is happening to their planet, but it is desperately important that we balance this with hope for their future.
And you’ve added some extra material for this new edition – can you tell us about that?
After years of visiting thousands of school children and discussing The Journey Home it was really nice to reflect on the topics and questions that have most come up and to use that to create this extra content. The book is so open-ended and invites discussion between grown-up and child and I wanted to offer some material to facilitate that dialogue.
For those not familiar with the story, how does the book explore the theme of Belonging?
So the story begins with a polar bear, realising his home is no longer suitable, setting sail and picking up other endangered animals along the way. After sailing far they reach an island and have a discussion with a dodo about what needs to be done to return to their homes. They are very different animals but they share common basic needs – the same need for safety as us humans.
We all belong on this planet together and looking after it will benefit us all! When it comes to our future, just like the four animals, we are all in the same boat.
The Literacy Tree has created some fantastic resources for The Journey Home – do you see or hear about the book being used lots in schools?
It is always remarkable to me that a book that is 10 years old is still in used in schools up and down the country and organisations like The Literacy Tree have a lot to do with this. I get contacted by so many teachers on twitter sharing the wonderful work their children do around my text. It is wonderful!
What are you working on now?
Well, alongside my books, I am currently growing my second baby that is due late summer. I have two books to finish before that deadline. One is a board book, which is a follow on to The Every Baby book, which published in March 2022 with Magic Cat. The other is a wonderful non-fiction called Animal Superpowers, which will publish in 2023 with Beach Lane, S&S.
I have also just finished my new author/illustrator picture book called I Want The Moon, which I am very excited about. That is a book all about greed, happiness – and where NOT to look for it and it publishes with Templar in July 2022.
The Journey Home 10th anniversary special edition, by Frann Preston-Gannon, is published by Pavilion Children’s Books (28th April 2022), £11.99 hardback. ISBN 9781843655169.