I was up all night watching the BBC coverage with increasing concern, and now, of course, the result is in no doubt: the UK has decided to leave Europe.
At Nosy Crow, we are shocked and disappointed. This isn’t the result we hoped for either as a business or as a group of people: our informal, anonymous SurveyMonkey staff “referendum” yesterday was unanimously in favour of remaining, and we’ve supported Axel Scheffler, who is a bestseller in the UK, in getting his pro-remain message out as recently as three days ago.
At a personal level, I feel truly European, and I cannot imagine that will change. I hoped – I expected – that identity would be open to my children as they grow up. That does not seem likely now. And that makes me very sad.
As a business, we worry about the impact on the UK economy and therefore on the health of the book market and we worry about the ramifications for some of our contracts, but in the short term, at least, the biggest problem for us is likely to be the impact on exchange rates: we see the world as our market and we deal in multiple currencies, and both our buying of print and our selling of rights and co-editions will be affected. But, having sold rights in our 31st language yesterday, we know that we create books with international sales potential, and aim to get those books into the hands of children around the world just as we do now, in Europe and beyond, continuing to work with those partners and customers we’ve built up relationships with over the years of Nosy Crow’s existence.
I wrote to some of my European friends in the children’s book industry, all of whom are surprised and saddened by this turn of events. One German friend said she and her family were changing their holiday plans: instead of coming to the south coast of England, they’ll go to Normandy, because they “don’t feel welcome, at least for now.”
Here are some of their comments:
“Good messages and great books will sell beyond frontiers and national identities and we will do our very best for this to REMAIN the way it is. You will have our support.”
“We are still all Europeans. Hard times are ahead I think. But what we do may help to uphold tolerance, empathy, kindness and decency. I hope so anyway.”
“No Brexit between us! The world of children’s books is imagination, no borders.”
So, if you want to feel a bit European, here are some great children’s books set in or about a European world beyond the UK, or about European identity, or written by European writers in a language other than English, that I think it’s worth thinking about, or reading, today:
Our own Sweet Pizza by Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and Brandford Boase Award-shortlisted G.R. Gemin, a book about Italian immigrants to Wales, internment during the second world war, national identity, and how food can unite us all
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
Waiting for Anya by Michael Morpurgo
I Am David by Anne Holm
Emil and the Detectives by Erik Kastner
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt
Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle
Vango by Timothee de Fombelle
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
And here are some illustrated books:
Dear Millie by Maurice Sendak
The Babar books by the Laurent De Brunoff
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Tintin by Herge
Asterix by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
Miffy by Dick Bruna
We’d love to hear your suggestions for other children’s books on this theme – please do tell us your favourite books on a European theme in the comments below.