Blazing a path in women’s football

Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while will know that as a former rugby player myself, I’m passionate about encouraging girls into sports. Last year, I featured a book about Gaelic football (“Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”) and that author is working on one about Camogie which I’m really looking forward to, so when I heard of a new picture book about Lily Parr, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Lily Parr made women’s football possible. I still struggle to believe that women’s football was banned when I was born (Ok that rather gives away my age)!

I do want to add that although the book is about women’s football, this should be read by all young football fans, regardless of gender. There is nothing pink or fluffy about it. Pure grit and determination.

Trailblazer is written by Elizabeth Dale and illustrated by Caroline Coroa, and as part of the publication book tour, I’m delighted that Carolina has agreed to chat to us.

1.Trailblazer is about real events and real people. What research did you do to ensure that you illustrated them correctly?

I didn’t start from zero. Elizabeth Dale, the author, and Kim from Maverick Books sent me an amazing compilation of info: websites with history, photos, names, events, etc. They were very careful with who was who, especially the Dick Kerr Ladies team and Alfred. There are plenty of websites that tell us events and stories of women in football since the beginning of 1900s in Europe, Americas, Africa, etc, so I started my research to find out more about women’s football worldwide and why UK and French female teams were so famous at the time. Then I focused on the girls of Dick Kerr Ladies. As they use uniforms most of the time, I needed to find physical and personal characteristics to distinguish them from each other. When you “know” someone it gets easier to draw, so the more I learned from them, the more their personalities would appear in the pages. As they didn’t have many pictures in 1900s, it’s even more impossible to find about a specific person, so I tried to find as many as I could to refine expressions. I was always thinking if they could ever imagine one day someone was going to research their lives and draw about it. I feel very honoured to do so.

 
2.You include a wide variety of clothes worn at that time. Were there any problems depicting them? 

I have a degree in fashion, and I was always very curious about fashion history in Europe. I already knew the consequences of World War I in the wardrobe of people. It was nice to revisit some books and see those nice hats, silk dresses, pearls, and tuxedos. I also use Pinterest for research faster. The challenge was the colors. As the photos from those decades are all black and white, I had to keep an eye on the croquis and old fashion magazines to draw. 

 3. Were the headlines you include in the illustration of the US newspapers, real headlines from the time?

 They’re part of Elizabeth and Kim’s research. Lily was a star; my impression is that every newspaper wanted to highlight her at some point. I received the headlines with the briefing, and I had to research images so both could work together. 

 4.The final double page spread – showing that female footballers today are playing due to the struggle of the ones who went before – is very moving. Was that scene your idea and was it difficult to get just right?

The scene was part of the briefing too, I also found it very moving to imagine that girls who play now have the support from those ladies. 

 5.You portray the football action scenes very well. Are you a football fan? Were you aware of the fascinating story of Lily and her team-mates struggle before you read this book?

Thank you! I played football after school for some months when I was 15, as left-wing, though I was a terrible player. In Brazil, we have a very strong soccer/football culture, especially at school. Even if you don’t like it you always end up learning something or you have a friend that is “sick” about it, as we say there. My husband and my brother-in-law helped me with some scenes by playing FIFA. We paused some moves so I could sketch. Marta, for example, is a very famous player worldwide today and she’s left-footed as Lily was, I studied her playing a little bit to improve the sketches. I also took care of the book “flow” to make sure Lily was well placed as left-footed. I remember seeing something about Lily’s statue being revealed last year during the Women’s World Cup in France, but I didn’t know much before the book.

6. Do you and the author have plans for more books e.g. to make this into a series?

 That would be great to have more of Lily and her team-mates! Florrie Redford, Alice Kell, and Alice Woods, for example, have nice stories to tell too. If Elizabeth and Maverick decide to make this into a series, I’m super available to work on it and, of course, learn more and improve scenes and characters.

An African adventure for lockdown travellers

I think we’re all craving travel at the moment, even a trip to the shops makes me quite excited, while my annual trip to the Scottish Highlands is looking unlikely, and ditto any sailing this year. If you’ve followed my blog over the past few months, you’ll know I’ve devoured the first two of Roxana Valea’s “Polo Diaries” series (and am about to start the third). These are fiction but based heavily on her life, so I couldn’t resist a purely non-fiction account of her African adventure, Through Dust and Dreams. And I wasn’t disappointed. I absolutely love her writing – you can see the journalism training in her engaging, pacey style – there’s not a dull moment in this. Splash an Amarula into your coffee and find a comfy spot in the sunshine, you won’t want to put it down.

Author bio

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

Fresh Eggs & Dog Beds

I love audiobooks, especially when dog walking and especially non-fiction, so this was a double tick as soon as I saw it. I particularly love memoir narrated by the author themselves, but understand that’s a big task and not for everyone (certainly not me anyway). In fact the narrator was excellent – I’d definitely look out for anything else by him.

At times I forgot this was non fiction and was looking for a plot. Then again, as a memoir, I was expecting some life lessons, but it’s a pretty straightforward linear account. It is a little slow – five chapters before they even think of moving to Ireland and way more before they actually make the purchase – it’s a bit like watching one of those “Home or Abroad” or “Move to the Country” property search TV shows! If you enjoy those shows, this lets you see “behind the scenes” and you’re going to absolutely love it. It could have gone straight from his health wake up call/ redundancy into the action, but I guess by taking the slow road it’s left plenty of scope for book two. I wasn’t rolling around with laughter, just a gentle smile but, as a light, easy listen, I definitely enjoyed it and am looking forward to book two.

Blurb

Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Author Bio

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020. Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

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https://www.facebook.com/NickAlbertAuthor/

Twitter @Nickalbertautho

Why Sparky made me cry!

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know I’m a big fan of Sue Wickstead’s bus themed picture books. Not only are they based on the real play buses which were around when I was younger, but she writes so nicely. This is an old-school, gentle, tale of inclusivity and it made me cry. I love it. In fact I’m welling up again just writing this.

My only niggle with Sue’s earlier books was they were quite text heavy for the age group, but this one is absolutely spot on.

There are not enough straightforward inclusivity tales for younger readers, and the fact this is based on a real story makes it even better. If you are wondering, the real buses were designed to be accessible for disabled children and the slide was originally intended to be a fire escape giving a fast exit for them. This book should be in every reception classroom.

And Princess Anne, who was a patron of the original project has a copy of it. Fabulous!

Author Bio

Sue and I at a very cold Crawley WordFest

Sue is an author and a teacher and has written six children’s picture books, all with a bus included somewhere. Having been able to share her first book, ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, she decided it was time to think about writing a book for younger readers.

Blurb

Sparky isn’t your typical double-decker bus. Behind the dragon and magical paintings, she’s full of fun and adventures for all children. Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special.

Purchase Links

You can order on Amazon UK or US , or you can get a FREE 3D bus template with book orders from Sue Wickstead’s website or if you message her https://www.suewickstead.co.uk/

Get in touch

Facebook: -Author Page https://www.facebook.com/storiesSue/

Facebook  -Playbus page https://www.facebook.com/BewbushPlaybus/

Twitter https://twitter.com/JayJayBus

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jayjaybusbooks/

Web site : www.suewickstead.co.uk

Babushka – cover reveal

My sister and I adored the set of brightly painted Russian dolls we had as kids and my sister carried the “baby” around with her everywhere. I did have to google what Babushka meant – apparently it’s Russian for old woman or grandmother. Anyway, when this cover reveal landed in my inbox I got all nostalgic. Our set is long gone, but I found this image which is exactly how I remember them.

Blurb

Babushka hadn’t been in her homeland since she was a child. She went to the church with a suitcase, and the whole way, Babushka thought about how she would feel in Ukraine after so many years. She sang, and then she prayed. Amen. But Babushka was thinking of her trip instead of the Lord’s grace. After a long time pondering what to expect—if she would feel a sense of belonging—Babushka arrived in her homeland. Babushka had a lot of fun, but she felt like something was missing. She was homesick. “Babushka is Homesick” is a story about memories, family, and the true meaning of the word “home.”

“Babushka is Homesick” is the second children’s book in the Babushka Series. Everyone has their own stories, history, and the desire to belong. The first book, “Tell me a story, Babushka,” is a best-selling new release in Children’s Multicultural Literature on Amazon USA (Aug 2019), in which kids and adults will enjoy fun adventures and identify their own stories.

This folktale is ideal for ages 4-11 and perfect for teachers.

Purchase Links:

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0848BP2SH

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0848BP2SH

About Carola Schmidt

Pediatric Oncology Pharmacist & award-winning author of children’s multicultural literature, such as Babushka Series, and children’s books about cancer, such as Chubby’s Tale: The true story of a teddy bear who beat cancer, and Bald is Beautiful: A letter for a fabulous girl. Springer Nature author with several scientific books published on pediatric oncology.

Twitter: @_CarolaSchmidt and @LovelyBabushka

Facebook: @MyLovelyBabushka