Ahoy! Drop anchor there for a minute, and listen till we tell you. It’s a good old sailor’s yarn.
Little Island first began to emerge from the sea back in 2008, when the author and general children’s books trouble-maker Siobhán Parkinson [www.siobhanparkinson.com or view her author profile here] approached Edwin Higel, publisher of New Island Books, with a mad sort of an idea.
She’d been having a glorious time over the previous few years co-editing a journal of international children’s literature, voyaging off to all sorts of wonderful places and generally being thrilled and excited by international children’s literature.
Why? she said to Edwin. Why can’t Irish children get to see more of this great stuff? How come it’s nearly all British and American books that our children get the chance to read? After all, remember Heidi? Pinocchio? Pippi Longstocking? Hans Christian Andersen? Would we even have heard of these wonderful books if they were being published today?
Edwin nodded sagely and said 'Hmm' quite a lot.
And then some months later he came back to Siobhán and said, 'Right, when are you ready to start?'
'Start what?' she asked, bewildered.
'Publishing books for children,' he said. 'Isn’t that what you suggested?'
'Well, not exactly.'
'International ones,' he said.
'Gosh, yes,' she said. 'I did mention that.'
'Right,' he said. 'And Irish ones too of course. Good ones.'
'By all means,' she said.
'We’ll call it Little Island,' he went on. 'Because New Island is its parent. OK?'
So we did.
Little Island published ten books in its first year, and then it broke away from its parent New Island and declared itself independent. Like most youngsters who leave home and set up on their own, we are on good terms with our parent and we do phone home from time to time. But we also like having our own space and doing our own thing. In our case ‘our own thing’ means publishing quality books for children and teenagers, some of them in translation. Our 2011 list consists of nine titles (two for teenagers, and the rest for children of primary-school age). Our 2012 books are already being edited, and even our 2013 list is bulging at the seams. So many books, so little time!
Little Island is generously supported by the Arts Council/an Chomhairle Ealaíon and by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. We have a voluntary board of four members, including the Managing Editor (Elaina O’Neill) and the Publisher (Siobhán Parkinson) of the company. We also have a small but staunch number of shareholders, most of whom take an active part in the running of the company.
The Little Island Team
Publisher and Commissioning Editor: Siobhán Parkinson
Managing Editor: Elaina O'Neill
Sales Agent: Conor Hackett, Hackett Flynn