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Sojo chats with the kids at Awen about their venture into making children’s books

Awen is a democratic, free-to-attend school in Cardiff, set up by Charlotte Church. This is the school’s very first year of existence and the 20 brilliant children that I’ve been lucky to start working with have been given the task to dream up what they want their school to be. I mean….come on….what an absolutely beautiful opportunity! Just imagine what you might have dreamt up in their position.

Some days they bring their dogs to school! I KNOW!

Anyway, sorry for the all caps, it just gets me very excited when kids are given creative freedom. It’s a sure-fire way to awesomeness, in my opinion.

I (Sophie) have been hopping across to Cardiff to work with the kids for a while now, whilst wearing my Sojo Animation hat, but yesterday I was in full Sojo & Mouse mode because…

…the Awen kids are creating children’s books

and they mean business!

They have split themselves into 3 story groups made up of the following roles:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Illustrator
  • Dramaturg
  • Performer

So I had the treat of listening, via the power of the internet, to three, fresh stories while they are still in those early stages of infinite possibilities. I got to ask prying questions like “Just quite how massive does he get?”, “What kind of age do you think of it being?” and “What’s its voice like?”.

In a week or so they will be sharing finished stories and early illustration ideas with school children and asking for feedback before edging closer to getting, potentially all three stories, print ready. They are an ambitious bunch!

The fourth group of kids to jump onto my computer screen were ‘The Business Group’. Oh gosh what a mountain of a task that lays ahead of them. I had asked them to watch the Sojo & Mouse kickstarter campaign video to quickly explain how Helen (Mouse) and I had gone about funding that initial print run. They were full of confidence, passion and ideas about possible avenues they could take.

I can’t wait to see their stories as they develop further and I am intrigued to know whether they opt to knock down the doors of the publishing giants, approach some of the independents, or set up their very own publishing company. Something tells me it’s going to be the latter.

Here’s a vlog I made a few weeks ago about my time at Awen, incase you’re interested.

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‘The Glowing Snowman’ Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter campaign pic

Hooray! The Glowing Snowman Kickstarter campaign is live and already creeping towards the halfway mark.  We have 11 days left to hit our target of £3000 or we get nothing…nada…zilch!

We hope you enjoy our slightly bonkers campaign video.  Apologies about the badger poo.

Please check out the rewards because they are all designed to make your Christmas very easy.

Donate.  Share.  Spread the mother loving’ word.

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Sojo Publishing Mouse…We exist now!

Hello world.  We are Sojo Publishing Mouse.

‘Sojo what now?’ I hear you ask.

Well, let me tell you…Sojo Publishing Mouse is a publishing house with a difference. Our aim is to create wonderfully original children’s books, which provide a platform for authors and illustrators to share and showcase their work on a much larger scale than the increasingly popular self-publishing route.

In an industry where many established publishing giants don’t have the capacity to take on new writers, and keep with what they know, this publishing mouse actively seeks out fresh and original work, and work that breaks the mould of the traditional children’s picture book.

It is the brainchild of two creative-education practitioners, who day-to-day use their craft to stimulate and inspire the imaginations of young children. Helen, a drama practitioner, and Sophie, an illustrator/animator, both regularly work with primary age children in schools and on other private projects, and see the wonderful effect that stories and pictures can have in firing up young minds.

When working on a collaborative workshop with their respective companies, Sojo Animation and Sprouts, they created a story that had to be told! But when finding out that regular publishers have many guidelines and tend to dismiss children’s books already with illustrations, and not wanting to tear apart the wonderful work they’d already done, they began to look into other ways of doing it. And never ones to want to do things by halves, Sojo Publishing Mouse was born…!