Kiwi mus­ings on moth­er­hood go global

Three young mums sign deal with US pub­lisher for their fas­ci­nat­ing in­sights

Weekend Herald - - News - Dionne Chris­tian Photo / Dean Pur­cell

Mother’s Day is sweeter for three Kiwi mums whose “baby” is poised to take flight in the United States.

In the best tra­di­tion of start-up busi­nesses, Brid­get Fog­a­rty, Jane Lan­g­ley and Becky Ol­livier worked from their re­spec­tive kitchen ta­bles to write and pub­lish Lit­tle Gems: Mar­vels and Mus­ings on Moth­er­hood From Around the World.

Now they’ve signed a deal with US pub­lisher An­drews McMeel Uni­ver­sal who wants 10,000 copies on book­store shelves across North Amer­ica for Mother’s Day next year. That’s 8000 more than the ini­tial print run, funded by a 2015 Kick­starter cam­paign that raised $12,000.

The trio don’t know how much the deal will ul­ti­mately be worth — that de­pends on sales — but are thrilled that the book’s pos­i­tive mes­sages about moth­er­hood are a step closer to go­ing global.

The gift book cel­e­brates preg­nancy, labour, birth and moth­er­hood by bring­ing to­gether a mix of some­times funny, al­ways fas­ci­nat­ing folk­lore

I think we over­com­pli­cate things; af­ter all, peo­ple have been hav­ing ba­bies since the year dot. Brid­get Fog­a­rty

from around the world.

Fog­a­rty, now preg­nant with her third child, got the idea af­ter hav­ing one baby in the United King­dom and one in New Zealand.

She says there were marked dif­fer­ences in at­ti­tudes from ex­pec­tant moth­ers and health professionals in Auck­land com­pared to Lon­don, where peo­ple seemed more re­laxed about what to eat dur­ing preg­nancy and whether or not a woman was go­ing to breast­feed her baby.

A teacher, re­searcher and pro­ducer, Fog­a­rty started mus­ing on cul­tural dif­fer­ences, re­search­ing dif­fer­ent ideas, the­o­ries and folk­lore from around the world and through­out his­tory.

“I think we over-com­pli­cate things; af­ter all, peo­ple have been hav­ing ba­bies since the year dot of­ten in far more dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances than many of us do to­day.”

She asked child­hood friend

Lan­g­ley, an ad­ver­tis­ing copy­writer, whether her notes could be wran­gled into some­thing re­sem­bling a book. Lan­g­ley was en­thu­si­as­tic about the idea right from the start, say­ing it’s a non-judg­men­tal book and a re­ac­tion

against some of the more pro­scrip­tive preg­nancy and par­ent­ing books she came across while preg­nant.

“We want women to be re­minded that child­birth is a mir­a­cle . . . Don’t worry about ‘the rules’, don’t feel you

have to rush around madly and don’t think there’s only one way to do things. Look at what we used to do in an­cient and re­cent his­tory, look at what other cul­tures do.”

When a mu­tual friend sug­gested

Ol­livier could il­lus­trate it, the book be­gan to take shape. It took Ol­livier nine months to com­plete the book: three months of il­lus­trat­ing, three months of de­sign and proof­ing and three months for the print­ing. It

timed per­fectly with her sec­ond preg­nancy and, the day af­ter the book launch party, she went into labour.

The women hope Lit­tle Gems pro­vides a mo­ment of re­lief from the pres­sure to do things in a cer­tain way. They say if there’s one tra­di­tion we should think more se­ri­ously about adopt­ing, it’s one pop­u­lar in many Asian cul­tures where moth­ers stay home with their ba­bies for the first month to six weeks to rest and re­cover.

The US deal caps a fan­tas­tic two years for the first-time book pro­duc­ers who saw Lit­tle Gems win the Penguin Ran­dom House NZ Award for Best ll­lus­trated Book and the Mary Egan Pub­lish­ing Award for Best Ty­pog­ra­phy at the PANZ Book De­sign Awards in 2016.

Given their suc­cess, work is now un­der­way on a sec­ond book about the first year or so of a child’s life.

Au­thors (from left) Brid­get Fog­a­rty, Jane Lan­g­ley and Becky Ol­livier have had their book Lit­tle Gems picked up by a ma­jor US pub­lisher.

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