To celebrate Pride Month right here on BookBound, we interviewed Jodie Lancet-Grant, author of the newly published picture book The Pirate Mums. The book has an LGBTQ+ theme at its heart, stunning illustrations, and resonates with important message of how families come in many different shapes and sizes but ultimately have love at the helm. We absolutely love this book, and recommend the book for primary school libraries, sharing at home, enjoying with relatives, and borrowing from your local library too. The Pirate Mums is published by OUP, and is available to purchase from all good booksellers now. A big thank you to Jodie for agreeing to this feature content for the blog, and such an insightful interview as a consequence.
- Could you sum up the book in one sentence?
A rollicking pirate adventure and a celebration of different kinds of families.
- What made you decide to make the mum’s in the book Pirates?
I love how pirates dance to the beat of their own drum – they’re fearless and don’t always abide by the rules of society. I am also very aware of how rarely we see female pirates in stories. If we do, they tend to be just one girl in an otherwise all-male crew. I’m interested in writing the kinds of things we don’t often see in children’s books back into the mainstream, whether that’s a crew of female pirates or a family with same sex parents.
- Have you ever helped out on a school trip before, and if so how was your experience?
Sadly my girls are only in Year 1 and the pandemic scuppered all school trips, so I never have! I’m looking forward to changing that as restrictions lift, and, like the pirate mums, I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open and be ready to think on my feet! You never know when adventure will come calling.
- How important is the LBGTQ+ theme in the book?
For me, the LGBTQ representation in this book is incredibly important. We need to see families that look like this more, because representation matters. But it’s also important that the fact that Billy has two mums is not actually relevant to any of the action in the story and that this isn’t a book that specifically says ‘families come in different shapes and sizes.’ I imagine that many adults, when starting the story, will assume that the reason Billy’s family is described as ‘not what you’d call ordinary’ is because he has two mums. But then, as the story unfolds, we see that’s not the case at all – it’s actually because they’re pirates. I hope that subtly makes grown ups look at any inbuilt assumptions they have about what makes a family. And I hope, too, that it helps children see that all families are special, whether they’re different for any reason at all – not only because they may have two mums.
- Do you have a favourite character, and if so who and why?
I love both of the mums. They’re kind and clever and fearless, and I love how the super talented Lydia Corry has brought them to life on the page.
- Do you have any future books due for publication, or in the process of being written, and if so will they have a significant theme such as LGBTQ+?
Yes, another book will be out with OUP in May next year. I can’t reveal the title or theme yet, as we haven’t yet announced it, but watch this space. I can say that it will also feature a family with same sex parents and, like The Pirate Mums, it will have a message of self-acceptance, wrapped within an exciting, possibly magical, story.
- Was there any part of the research process for the book that you enjoyed/disliked?
I loved looking into different kinds of ships to work out what the illustration should be when the mast went down!
- The illustrations compliment the story brilliantly, and feature lots of rainbows, can you give readers any relevance to choosing to do so, and do you have a favourite illustration within the book?
I feel incredibly lucky to have been paired with Lydia Corry, who is exceptionally talented and has managed to put such emotion into the story through her illustrations. I love how, whilst the pictures are exuberant and joyful right from the start, the palette is slightly muted – lots of reds and blues but no yellows. It’s only when Billy starts to accept his family that the illustrations explode into a riot of rainbows. I think it shows how much richer and brighter life is when you start to accept who you are.
The illustration where the pirate mums have set off the cannon (made from a dustbin) and the boat zips across the water with a huge rainbow ‘boom’ is my favourite in the book.
- Where do you get your inspiration and influences from?
I read voraciously and across many different genres, so I think that book-wise I get my inspiration and influence from all over. It was important to me to instil a love of reading in my children, and I think it’s hard to do that if they never see themselves on the page. Books like The Pirate Mums and some of the other crop of LGBTQ+ focussed picture books out at the moment help to do that.