A taste of Red Lemon Press
A sparky name alongside an appropriately graphic and colourful logo heralds the arrival of a new range of non-fiction books for children and adults. Sue Unstead examines Red Lemon Press.
A sister imprint to Hot Key Books, and part of the Bonnier Publishing Group, Red Lemon Press is launched with a clutch of six new titles this autumn. ‘Fresh non-fiction with a twist’ is the by-line for a list that promises to bring something different to the well-trodden path of information book publishing.
Russell McLean, Editorial Director, says that the aim is to create non-fiction that offers new ways to approach subjects, with a strong authorial voice and distinctive illustrations. He explains that working with the creative team in this small new set-up feels free of the corporate shackles of the big publishing houses, with the result that they can be ‘more nimble’, reacting more quickly to the market.
Certainly their launch title Being a Boy makes a bold statement, a frank no-holds barred survival guide for teenage boys. Author James Dawson has already made a reputation for himself as an author of award-winning young adult novels, but here he draws on his experience as a teacher specialising in Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education in schools. This close involvement with a young audience is evident in his approach and delivery. He maintains that his many years of teaching sex education has ensured that he no longer has ‘any shame’ at all! And obviously it was all delivered with a light touch and a plentiful dose of humour, as much of the book is very funny, helped by the line drawings throughout by Spike Gerrell. Informative and reassuring, the tone is non-judgemental, concentrating not just on the mechanics of sex but on emotions and relationships, on peer pressure and bullying, pornography and the internet. If as an adult you have any doubts on whether this is too explicit or an appropriate choice of book, the final chapter should convince. ‘None of us grew up with broadband …We will never know what it is like to have high-quality pornography delivered to our mobile phones as a ten year old.’
In complete contrast is Dotty Polka’s Vintage Collection, an inspirational and creative guide to fashion and design. The reader is invited to doodle and sketch, invent and embellish the pages, with more than 200 of them devoted to everything from fabric design to earrings, hats to sunglasses, socks, skirts and shoes. A large format paperback, it was originally published in Germany and bought in for the English language market. Consequently it has a European stylishness to it that will go down a bomb with would-be fashion designers. Pass the pens – I can’t wait to start!
A very different title is scheduled for October publication – Desmond Morris’s The Artistic Ape, a book that has been in gestation for a number of years. Morris is best known as a highly respected anthropologist and broadcaster, author of The Naked Ape, but fewer people know his work as a surrealist painter. He was also Director of the ICA in the late 60s, which helps to explain the list of distinguished names in the acknowledgments ranging from art critics and academics such as Roland Penrose and David Sylvester, to practising artists such as Francis Bacon and Barbara Hepworth. On one level the book is a history of art from cave paintings to contemporary art, but it is also a history of artistic endeavour, and being Morris it includes animals too. His work in the 60s with a chimpanzee whose artistic skills developed over the years makes fascinating reading. The book is aimed at an adult audience, but it shares a common theme with other Red Lemon Press titles in having a strong authorial voice and a distinctive visual approach. The chapter on the development of visual creativity in children will also be of particular interest to BfK readers. Digital add-ons include access to an app that provides videoed interviews of Morris discussing themes in the book.
November sees the publication of another family reference title – Cosmic Menagerie by Dr Mark Garlick, a gloriously illustrated guide to the Universe from planets, stars and black holes to galaxies and quasars. Garlick is not only an astrophysicist but also an illustrator and animator, so a selection of images can be brought to life through the use of image recognition apps using a smart phone or tablet.
Closer to Christmas two titles will provide entertainment for younger readers. Stop the Clock will appeal to the child (probably a boy) who is a fan of the Guinness Book of Records with its dip-in miscellany of facts and figures all related to how long they take to happen. For younger readers of 3 and upwards Animals Everywhere is an appealing pop-up guide to the animal kingdom arranged by habitat with rhyming text.
Future plans include a series of practical science books with hands-on experiments, as well as books on sport, earth sciences and activities. Boys seem to be a common theme in several of the titles, a recognition perhaps that non-fiction is often the way to get boys hooked on reading. The exact shape of the list will be dependent on the outcome of Frankfurt presentations, but Russell McLean is clear that his aim is to build a commercial and distinctive list that presents non-fiction in an exciting way making use of new technology in a variety of formats.
Being a Boy, James Dawson, 192pp, 978-1-7834-2000-1, £6.99 pbk
Dottie Polka’s Vintage Fashion Collection, Kera Till, 200pp, 978-1-7834-2006-3, £9.99 pbk
The Artistic Ape, Desmond Morris, 320pp, 978-1-7834-2002-5, £30 hbk
Cosmic Menagerie, Dr Mark Garlick, 144pp, 978-1-7834-2004-9, £25 hbk
Stop the Clock, 160pp, 978-1-7834-2005-6, £14.99 hbk
Animals Everywhere, Yvonne Deutsch, ill. Jonathan Woodward, 22pp, 978-1-7834-2003-2, £12.99 hbk
Sue Unstead spent over 25 years in children’s non-fiction publishing, over 10 years at DK, and now a full-time writer and publishing consultant.