Welcome to my latest blog piece all about a recent publication, SuperJoe Does NOT Say Sorry. Written by Michael Catchpool and illustrated by Emma Proctor, this is a follow up to SuperJoe Does NOT Do Cuddles.
Coming up is an interview with Michael Catchpool, but first let me tell you all about the book.
Published by Lantana Publishing, SuperJoe Does NOT Say Sorry is an energetic, imaginative and thought pondering read based around apologising.
SuperJoe is having an extremely busy day of playful, imaginative fun. Living up to his name, he is saving passengers from sinking ships, the Earth from an alien invasion and distracting dinosaurs with scary roars. However, in reality the house is becoming a big mess with spillages, broken favourite crockery and his baby sister woken from her nap.
Each time, SuperJoe’s father states that SuperJoe should be apologising for all the mess and upheaval but SuperJoe is far too busy! That is until he sees that his play has really made his baby sister rather sad and she just won’t settle and return to sleep.
There’s something rather heartwarming in observeing SuperJoe’s reaction to his sister being so upset. He knows just what to do to bring her comfort and readers can see that he is gradually beginning to understand why his father was so insistent on saying sorry.
Apologising can be tricky at times both for young and older individuals. Teaching children to say sorry has become an expected reaction for poor choices or accidents but is the expected reaction a genuine apology? Is the child in question understanding that by saying sorry we are expressing empathy and that it is a way of taking responsibility for our behaviour? As a primary school teacher and mother of three I find this topic fascinating and I do feel SuperJoe Does NOT Say Sorry explores this topic brilliantly and in a very child friendly way.
It’s wonderful to see a Black superhero and the trials and tribulations of being a hero. Though SuperJoe soons realises that as busy as superheroes can be, they are in fact never too busy to apologise. The artwork brings the story to life, capturing colourful, familiar home scenes and some very expressive and gentle moments.
A great book for home and educational settings and a must have for libraries, hopefully encouraging discussion around emotions and apologising and inspiring lots of imaginative play.
I recently interviewed author Michael Catchpool to discuss all things SuperJoe and some more.
Interview with Michael Catchpool.
A huge congratulations on the publication of your book SuperJoe Does Not Say Sorry.
-For those who are yet to enjoy your latest book, in five words how would you describe your book?
Wow, that’s an interesting challenge. So, the five words I think, hopefully, sum up the book are:
Fun, lively, exciting, humorous, thought-provoking (is that two words?!)
–The artwork by Emma Proctor completes the book brilliantly. Have you had the opportunity to meet together to showcase your books?
Unfortunately, I have not met Emma, but we have had an exchange through posing questions for each other to answer as part of a blog for our previous collaboration, ‘SuperJoe does not do cuddles’. I remain in awe of her. She has truly brought SuperJoe to life with her wonderful illustrations. I am always amazed by the skill of illustrators. I guess it is because Art was something I really struggled with. My highest achievement in terms of Art was to have my picture of an apple, which I drew for homework, put up on display by my teacher, along with about 25 pictures drawn by others in my class. It was the first time that something I had drawn actually looked like what it was meant to.
-You’ve explored a really interesting topic for the book. What lead you to explore this theme?
Saying sorry is something that we all seem to struggle with, whether we are adults or children. But it is a really powerful thing to say. I think people struggle to say sorry because they feel it makes them look weak. It means accepting that you have done something wrong. But, actually, that’s powerful. I think it’s valuable to show the importance of saying sorry, and how necessary it is for positive relationships. To have a superhero like SuperJoe realising that it is right to say sorry, I think is an important message.
-You have an educational background and continue to work in schools. Has this inspired many stories?
One of the things that inspires me, and a tip that I give to children when they want to write a story, is to listen to what people say. Being in schools, you hear such amazing things said by children. When I was a headteacher, I was stood by a classroom door and two children were late coming in. I said, ‘So why are you two late?’ One of them looked up at me and said, ‘Well, Gemma tried to put my bottom in the bin.’
How do you respond to that? What a wonderful excuse! But it also makes you think, now there must be a story there.
As a headteacher, I regularly led whole school assemblies. If I wanted to make a point or to put over an important message, I would often do it through making up and telling a story. In fact, the children got very used to my assemblies starting with three words: ‘There was once . . .’ So, I might have said, something like, ‘You know, sometimes it is not easy to share even though we know it’s important’. And then I would tell a story all about sharing, usually involving characters who get into problems because they don’t. So, it might be, ‘There was once a greedy lion who. . .’ or, ‘There was once a selfish King who . . .’
One of my published books, ‘Cloth from the Clouds’ (The Cloud Spinner in the USA), came from a story I made up and told in assembly to help the children in my school think carefully about environmental issues.
-Your first book introducing readers to Super Joe was Super Joe Does Not Do cuddles. How long after the initial idea did your first book in the series take to publish?
Years. I looked back to see how long ago it was when I first jotted down some early ideas for the story and it was over 10 years ago. I’m so pleased that Lantana saw the potential of SuperJoe and was really excited that they were keen for another story, which led to ‘SuperJoe does not say sorry’. In the end, although it took a while, it was worth the wait.
-As a child did you enjoy reading?
Absolutely. I really enjoyed reading as a child. My favourite present for my birthday or Christmas would be books. I have to confess that, now I’m older, I don’t read nearly half as much as I did as a child, or as much as I feel I should. Again, when I talk to children in schools about writing, I always say a good way into writing is to read, read, read.
-Lantana, whom the books are published by, do a brilliant job at ensuring every reader can see themselves in books. As a child what was your experience of this?
I, 100% agree. What Lantana are doing is wonderful and much needed. When I was a child, I didn’t see myself represented in any of the books I read. To be honest, if there were ever any black or minority ethnic characters included or referred to, it was often a very negative portrayal, either in how the character was described or how they were portrayed in pictures.
-Are you currently working on more books? Perhaps another Super Joe release?
I’m always playing around with different ideas and jotting things down. Sometimes it is just a couple of lines that I’ll then try and work up into a story. As I’ve said before, it might be something that I have heard someone say which then leads me to think about possible story ideas. Sometimes it is just the sounds of words that get me thinking. One of my books, called ‘Hopping mad’, came from a few words that popped into my head. I’m not sure why, but the words ‘Fergus had five frogs, Finn had four’, popped into my head. I think it was just the fun of the sound of the words. The clever name being alliteration.
Often, I will revisit story ideas that I have written, sometimes months or even years before, and see if I can develop them into something. I’m sure that if there was demand, then SuperJoe could certainly have further adventures. I have already thought of just some of the heroic things he might get up to . . . there’s always something for a superhero to do.
-And finally, if you could have dinner with three book creators, who would you choose?
Wow, there are so many to choose from aren’t there. When I think back to the authors whose books I really enjoyed reading as a child, then I think it would have been great to have met them and talked to them. Roald Dahl, and Michael Bond (the author of the Paddington books), would have been wonderful to talk to, though, unfortunately, they are no longer around.
There is an author of children’s novels called Louis Sachar who wrote the wonderful book ‘Holes’ who I think it would be fascinating to talk to. When I was a teacher, I remember reading ‘Holes’ to the children in my class; I thought it was brilliant!
Thank you so much for joining us on Mammafilz.com.
Do head over to Lantana Publishing’s website to see more of their brilliant inclusive reads.
I collaborated with Lantana Publishing to work on this piece however, all words and opinions are my own.