Thursday 19 September 2019

Q&A with Marcia Williams

Children Who Changed the World by Marcia Williams

From the heroes familiar to everyone, such as Malala Yousafzai, to the amazing activists you might not have heard of, like Baruani Ndume, the teenager who gave a voice to fellow refugee children in Tanzania, discover the incredible true stories of child activists in Marcia Williams' Children Who Changed The World.

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Rights of the Child and the amazing children who have stood up for them all over the world. Author-Illustrator extraordinaire Marcia Williams answered some questions for us in this behind-the-scenes feature:

1. What initially sparked the idea for the book?
Initially, it was reading about Eglantybe Jebb who founded the organisation ‘Save the Children’ and wrote the first 5 rights for children in 1923. Until I read her story I didn’t even know that children had special rights, but there are 54 articles of the Convention on Rights of the Child now, and they have been signed up to by the leaders of 196 countries. 

Marcia is known for her accessible comic-strip illustration style. Here is the page on the world-famous Malala

2. Can you tell us a bit about both your writing and illustrating process?

I always start by researching and then I will create a vague outline for the book and write an initial draft of the text. Once this is done I can start putting the words and pictures together, at which point much of the text will change or become unnecessary as the pictures and bubble text develop. Although, this book proved more tricky than most in terms of creating a clear layout that would not confuse the reader!

Some early illustrations...

A behind-the-scenes shot from Marcia's studio

3. What was the most interesting fact you discovered whilst writing the book?

That’s a tricky one as almost everything I discovered while writing the book was amazingly interesting and inspiring! Perhaps the most interesting, apart from the 54 rights themselves, was the fact that even small gestures can have a vast impact. I realised that you don’t have to always move a mountain to change the world. I think it is the passion to make a difference that counts, which is encouraging because it means we all have the potential to be world changers!

4. Are there any particular stories that affected you whilst researching?

Oh, what a question! I wept over the pages many times - how could I not. Children’s courage, often in dire circumstances, never ceases to amaze me and then when their luck changes the compassion they show to others really breaks your heart. I can honestly say that the story of every child in the book affected me - some of the children in the book are very young, one is only 4 years old - to show such empathy and compassion at that young age and the persistence needed to make a difference is truly affecting!

Baruani Ndume, an activist in Tanzania known for reuniting children with their families with his radio show

5. Are there any children right now who you think are or will change our world?

Oh definitely, I could name many but you only have to look on the Kidsrights website and the winners and nominees for the International Children’s Peace Prize to see the difference children are making to our world. It is fantastic, they are fantastic - they are making the change!

At the back of the book there is a two-page spread detailing each and every right of the child

Children Who Changed The World is available in all good bookshops!