On the week that we publish Under the Love Umbrella, its author and illustrator share why they wrote it together, and why its families are so diverse.
We love how people have responded to the diversity in the book. But while it was a conscious choice to include a range of backgrounds and family constellations, the situations we represented sprang from the characters as they came to life in our minds, rather than from a deliberate strategy or design.
On a tour to promote our first book, we were on the look-out for inspiring small people to feature in Love Umbrella. We came across some delightful and original children whose essence really stayed with us, and while we only met them briefly at school talks or festivals, we knew they would appear in some capacity. When it came to brainstorming, it was so much fun to recall those kids and imagine the backstory of their lives. Yes, Brian has two mums, but he’s also a keen scientist (check out the details in his bedroom!) and a slightly anxious guy. Izzy is picked up from school by her grandma, and she’s also the kind of scruffy kid who doesn’t care much for hair brushing. Joe is never without his doll and he’s also mad on camping. To us, these are all equally important details in building the authentic world of the book.
That said, the timing of this book feels fortuitous. There has never been a more important moment to tie love and diversity together in the minds of children, and one of the privileges of being a picture-book creator is the chance to speak into their hearts through story. It feels fitting that we wrote this book while in New York, which, more than anywhere else, has actively embraced diversity in the face of hatred. If you listen closely, the rhythm matches the sway of the subway’s L-Train.