Meet the Publisher: Lantana Publishing

Can we get a drumroll please? Allow us to introduce to you the next publisher in our excellent lineup of publishing partners – Lantana Publishing. Lantana is a UK-based publisher who tells under-represented and inclusive stories for all children. Check out the following interview with founder and publisher Dr. Alice Curry to learn more!

What is Lantana Publishing?

Lantana is an award-winning children’s book publisher and social enterprise with a mission to publish inclusive books celebrating diversity, social equality, and environmental sustainability. We are proud to work with authors from under-represented groups, and from across the globe. We are a signatory to the United Nations SDG Publishers Compact and we print our books with plant-based inks on sustainably sourced paper to minimize our carbon footprint.

Founded in 2014 by Dr. Alice Curry, winner of the 2017 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for women in publishing, Lantana believes that great books can change mindsets. Our strapline – because all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read – underpins our aim to create a more inclusive book landscape for the next generation of young readers.

Tell us how Lantana started?

Before moving into publishing, I was a university lecturer in children’s literature. Through my research, I became increasingly aware of the gaps in children’s publishing – in particular, a lack of representation of minority groups. After a while, it became impossible not to notice that some stories were being told, while others were being ignored; some voices were heard, and others silenced. This seemed not only unjust but also uncommercial – not only were authors from under-represented groups being alienated from mainstream publishing, but readers from majority cultures were missing out on discovering new and exciting stories both from around the world and closer to home.

When my sister married a man whose parents had emigrated from Hong Kong, I became determined to try to fill in some of these gaps in children’s publishing. I wanted to make sure that there would be books on the shelves for my future nephews and nieces – of whom I now have three! – in which they could see themselves reflected and find recognizable role-models to inspire them. I chose the name Lantana because the Lantana flower has petals of several colors on the same stem – a metaphor for children of all races, ethnicities, genders, abilities and orientations reading happily together on one Earth.

How would you describe your publishing vision?

I founded Lantana in order to publish inclusive books that reflect the diversity of the world around us, and that mission has expanded over the years to encompass race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and disability and neurodivergence. It is a privilege to work towards more equal representation in children’s publishing with every book we publish, and infinitely rewarding to hear from parents and children who feel seen and heard when they read our books.

We are keen to shine a light on lived experiences that have largely gone unexplored – both at home and abroad, and across fiction and nonfiction – in the form of beautifully-illustrated picture books, chapter books for young readers with black and white illustrations, or middle grade fiction for 8–12-year-olds.

Our publishing tends to fall into two categories – local and global. Our local books explore the world through the eyes of characters from under-represented groups – a mixed-race child growing up at the intersection of two cultures, a young boy with two moms, a girl learning to cope with her mother’s hearing loss. Our global books, on the other hand, explore countries and cultures beyond our borders – a child celebrating the New Yam Festival in Nigeria, a young boy living in war-torn Syria, a store owner teaching a young girl how to read in a Colombian pueblo.

Any upcoming projects you’re particularly excited about?

Looking ahead to Spring 2024, we’re excited about many upcoming titles, including The Great Henna Party by Humera Malik and Sonali Zohra, publishing in March. Noor is attending a henna party to celebrate her cousin’s wedding and she’s looking forward to playing the henna name game. The henna artist will hide the name of someone Noor loves in the henna patterns she draws on Noor’s hand. The only problem is – whose name will Noor choose? Gorgeously illustrated with swirling henna-like patterns, this beautiful picture book celebrates an age-old South Asian tradition while also celebrating modern family love.

The Great Henna Party, coming March 2024
The Invisible Story, coming April 2024

April will see us publish The Invisible Story by Jaime Gamboa and Wen Hsu Chen, translated by Daniel Hahn. This beautifully quirky picture book, told from the perspective of a book on a library shelf, was originally published in Uruguay, and we are delighted to now bring it to English-language readers. Envying the other books in the library with their shining letters and colorful pictures, our little book believes its pages to be blank. It is only when a young girl enters the library and runs her fingertips over the book’s white pages that the invisible story learns of the wonderful stories it contains. This unusual book gently explores the braille reading system, and we are excited to be working with a sight loss charity to make an accessible version of this book available to visually impaired readers.

Finally, we’re looking forward to publishing Ellie and the Marriage List in May – the first book in the new illustrated reader series One Extra Sparkle for 7-9 year olds. This warm and humorous story centers on 10-year-old Ellie who has an extra sparkle – the extra chromosome that gives her Down Syndrome. Ellie is a fabulous character, meeting the challenges of Down Syndrome with grace and humor, while also managing to plot mischief with her best friend Ling, hone her talent for drawing the wild creatures in her back yard, and stand up to those who challenge her, all over the course of one eventful summer. This wonderful new series comes as a breath of fresh air, shedding some much-needed light on a condition that, far from overshadowing the book’s protagonist, never fails to make her shine bright.

Ellie and the Marriage List, coming May 2024

Check out Lantana’s complete list that Lerner is proud to help make available to readers everywhere.

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