June 6 2013 - Launch Party for Max the Champion
A group of diverse characters came together to celebrate the arrival of Max the Champion published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books this week. Gathering at Blackwell’s Bookshop on Charing Cross Road, a delighted crowd read copies of the picture book, illustrated by the talented Ros Asquith (The Great Big Book of Families) and co-written by our very own Alex Strick with Sean Stockdale from nasen. In attendance were keen supporters of inclusive children’s literature, such as Philip Ardagh, Jane Ray and Axel Scheffler, as well as friends and colleagues whose experiences informed much of Max’s creation, helping to bring him to life.
The publication of Max the Champion coincided with the launch of a Blackwell's list of books for primary aged children which include representations disabled children. Inclusive Minds were pleased to be able to help Tim Kilmartin from Blackwell's with advice and book selection.
Max the Champion is not a book about disability, it is in fact a book about Max’s keen sportsmanship and powerful imagination which pops up in all aspects of his life, with an array of characters supporting him on all his endeavours. During a round of rousing introductory speeches, Ros Asquith discussed the challenge of illustrating deafness (Max wears a hearing aid) and the importance of keeping in mind the vast tapestry of differences that make up our society, ones that might not necessarily be visually apparent. Alex referred to the assumption that disability means a wheelchair, and that wheelchair users are rarely portrayed out of the chair.
The event also included a few words from Aminder Virdee, a young woman who with her brother Taz fed into the book’s inclusive imagery. Aminder talked about the importance of positive images for both disabled and non-disabled children. Max the Champion is a celebration of incidental inclusion, and aims to break those stereotypes by providing an accurate portrayal of society. With his publication, Max’s success story will continue to pave the way for a legacy of inclusive children’s literature that can follow on from the incredible support during the Paralympics.
As the books creators, with three parents Max obviously sprouted from a delightfully diverse background.
By Charlotte Morris