This May we published The Suitcase, written and illustrated by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros – a powerful new picture book full of heart and humanity. And today we’re very pleased to share a piece by Chris on the message behind the book, which you can read below.
Whenever trying to invent new stories and characters the real world always seeps into our thoughts. And the real world is currently in a period of increasing upheaval and turbulence where many people are having to make almost impossible decisions for themselves and their families to find less precarious lives or just some peace and a sense of safety and stability. Things we are presently lucky enough to take for granted.
The Suitcase isn’t truly about migration. It isn’t about the reasons behind it or the hardships endured on the long and hazardous journey. For me, the story is simply about trust and kindness. It’s about taking someone at face value when it’s impossible to know who they really are or where they come from or even why they’re here. And it’s about recognising that when someone is in need and we are in a position to help, then that’s what we should do, even if it means overcoming the fears instilled by confronting the unknown.
I wanted The Suitcase to give voice to different reactions when encountering something unexpected and inexplicable, and to show that rarely is anyone entirely noble, honourable and strong. We all worry, we all get a little bit scared sometimes when confronting the unknown, the strange, the stranger. We’re all prone to doubt, distrust and disagreement. We make bad decisions and we sometimes get things wrong and might even make big mistakes. But if we can acknowledge our fears and reject them then maybe, with a bit of trust and cooperation, we’ll find a way forward.
And then something wonderful might happen – the unknown and mysterious other, the peculiar stranger with seemingly tall tales can enrich and enlighten our world, and hopefully we can do the same for theirs.
Finally, I hope The Suitcase is about friendship – old and new. And how it can spring up and blossom where you least expect it.
Thank you, Chris! The Suitcase is available in bookshops now, and you can take a look inside the below:
And you can watch our trailer for the book below: