Meeting my hero, Eileen Browne

20130709_174128 They say ‘don’t meet your heroes’.  I beg to disagree.

Last year, I was lucky enough to work with the illustrator and writer, Eileen Browne, on a project to promote literacy in prisons.  Even though my daughter is now 14, we still flushed out her old copy of ‘Handa’s Surprise’, to get it signed.  However, it was the books about Jo, a child with a black mother and white father, just like my daughter, that I am grateful for.  According to the vast majority of children’s picture books, families like ours didn’t exist.


Wait And See Tony Bradman & Eileen Browne


Eileen delivered a workshop on writing for children to young fathers in a London prison.  Many of these men were not accessing the prison education service and approached the workshop with great caution.  The impact was considerable and many saw the workshop and the stories it inspired in them as a way to link with their families and children.

Now Eileen, along with other writers, is challenging the publishers on gender.   There is is still a perception that while girls will follow protagonists of both genders, boys are only interested in boys.  Better get Katniss on to that.

3 thoughts on “Meeting my hero, Eileen Browne

  1. It’s disappointing that even in the UK, with such a multicultural population, you still have such difficulty finding books that represent that diversity. The situation is even worse here in Australia though — nothing in bookshops at all.


    • Hi – thanks for getting in touch. It’s easier than when I was a child, but still not that great, especially for families with mixed visible ethnicity. It’s the fasted growing population in the UK, so publishers are definitely missing a marketing trick! However, they are still so conservative about gender, that perhaps anything else is too ambitious. I’m surprised about Australia though – a real pity.


      • It’s crazy – and so frustrating. I guess the marketers haven’t grown with the times. Although in Australia, it feels like we are going backwards, with a right-wing journalist lobbying for changes to our Racial Vilification Act in the name of freedom of speech – so he can continue to accuse light-skinned Aboriginal people or rorting the system.


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