Steve Antony is an author and illustrator whose work represents inclusion and like the title of his 2019 book, he is amazing.
Amazing is the story of a boy and his pet dragon, Zibbo and all the fun they have playing together. It was meant to be PEPELT’s Book of the Month for January 2019 when our theme was Celebrating Inclusion. However, it was published only at the end of January (book-launch)and as hard as we tried, we could not get ahold of an advanced copy. We shared Amazing on our FB page in 2019 and here is some more information about Steve and Amazing.
We read on his website: “But here’s the thing: I did not want the child’s disability to define his AMAZING story in the same way that my students did not want to be defined by their disability. In my mind my students were defined by their hobbies, interests and aspirations. Yes, they required different levels of assistance but they really didn’t want to be treated any differently to anyone else. I wanted the inclusion of my main character’s wheelchair to be entirely incidental. This is very important. And believe it not, it’s rare to find this sort of incidental inclusion so boldly depicted on the front cover of a UK trade picture book, even in 2018.”
It reminded us of an article which we had shared amongst the PEPELT team by Aho & Grit (2018) “Just Like Me, Just Like You”: Narrative Erasure as Disability Normalization in Children’s Picture Books. This article mentioned how the fact that a child who uses a wheelchair is not revealed to the reader until the very last page … quite a contrast to reality, quite a contrast to AMAZING. If you want to read more, check this interview.
‘The Sky Doesn’t Have to be Blue‘ is worth your time. In this article Steve discusses being a colour-blind illustrator. Reading about his way of seeing and questioning colour is most enriching. And one more article is this one by alittlebutalot. Steve discusses his work as an illustrator working on Tim Minchin’s When I grow Up. Once again, there are references to colours but also to his desire to include symbolism for children.
His sole focus really lies on the child … have a look at his website which is packed with wonderful stories how children (and teachers) have enjoyed working with his picturebooks. I (Tatia) use all of his books in primary English teacher education in the Netherlands. The Mr Panda series is tremendously popular with children and primary student teachers. We have had fun lessons practising how to teach English pronunciation and intonation with Please Mr Panda. And Unplugged has inspired may primary student teachers to discuss virtual and real friendships in class.
Finally, if you want to discover more about Steve – listen to this podcast. In his words, it’s about “how I went from struggling financially, no help from gov, no GSCEs or high school diploma to selling over 1 million books and counting – it’s by no means a practical guide 😆 but it’s my story”. The podcast is part of the ‘The Inspired Thoughts Podcast’ by Reece Chaplin.