1) How did you chose which movements to write about?
It was so hard! I was looking for great examples of people coming together to change the world and the amazing thing is that there were just so many to choose from. When deciding what to include in the book, I made sure we had examples from all around the world - that was really important to the whole team - and a mix of some well-known things readers would recognise (like the start of fairer trade and the fight to save the whales) and some they might not (like the singing revolution in Estonia).
2) Which movement is your favourite?
Ah you can’t make me choose! I really do love all of them but I’m especially wowed by Annabel Tempest’s beautiful artwork in the spreads about the treeplanters of Piplantri and the campaign for marriage equality. So stunning! A story that I found particularly powerful is the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Stories about this movement often focus on Rosa Parks or on Martin Luther King Jr but this is really a story about a whole community coming together to stand up for this idea that people shouldn’t be treated differently because of the colour of their skin. They boycotted buses and walked to work and school for 381 days. They pulled together and helped each other out. It’s so inspiring.
3) If you could change one thing today which one would it be?
If I had a magic wand? I’d want the world to be more inclusive. I’d want everyone to put empathy and kindness first. I’d magically code that in! So every time we do or say something, we think deeply about how it’ll affect other people and our planet. Not just right now, in this moment, but in the long term too. Especially in the long term. How wonderful would that be?
4) Is there a movement that changed the world but you would prefer wouldn't have happened?
Wow, that’s an interesting question! In How To Change The World, we focus on positive movements that are about including everyone and they’re rooted in this idea of empathy, being able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Unfortunately, there have always been and still are some movements in the world that are about excluding people - ones that say a certain group of people are more important than others and everyone else doesn’t matter so much. I think those kinds of movements are really quite harmful and we need all our energy to keep the focus on kindness and empathy and inclusiveness.
5) Which movements can you see happening right now?
So many - very often to do with this very basic but powerful idea that we should all be treated fairly and kindly no matter who we are or where we’re from. Black Lives Matter is one really important example of this. It’s not a new movement at all but recent events have meant that it’s grown again and taken off around the world in a big way. Another big movement today is the movement to protect our planet, raising awareness about the climate emergency. Again, just like the examples in the book, we’re seeing people around the world from different fields come together to bring about change - it starts small but it snowballs!
6) Who of the people mentioned in the book do you find most inspirational?
I’m always most inspired by everyday people. That might sound strange so let me explain! We talk about heroes a lot in this world and they’re important (Annabel and I have made a book about some of them too - How To Be Extraordinary!). But very often with these movements, the real lift comes from lots and lots of everyday people putting their voices together - like the community helping each other out during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the millions of volunteers helping with vaccine projects, the shoppers around the world choosing to buy fair trade goods, and everyone putting pressure on companies and governments to save endangered animals and protect the planet.
7) Do you think mass media and social media makes or fails movements?
Social media can be dangerous when it comes to the spread of fake news but it can be a powerful tool to spread the word about a positive movement. Same with the media because it puts the spotlight on an issue. But where it can fail is this - some important stories can sometimes get left behind. We hear more about some parts of the world than others. We hear a lot about climate strikers in big cities, for example, but do we hear enough about the indigenous communities who have been protecting our planet for so so long? So it’s important that we make an extra effort to learn about the whole world and what’s really happening!
8) Are you part of any movement yourself?
Yes, absolutely. I’ll always support any movement that has kindness and acceptance and taking care of our planet at its heart! I think making books like these is one way of being part of those movements. We’re raising awareness in our own little way!
9) Do you think schools should focus more on people and movements that changed the world?
Yes! We live in very challenging times. And that can a bit scary or overwhelming. I think there’s great power in seeing that we’ve come through challenges before and that we’ve done this by working together. That we don’t have to change the world alone. We can join our voices together and make a difference.
10) What are you writing about next?
More uplifting and hopeful books! I can’t tell you exactly what I’m writing as it’s all very secret but I can tell you what my next book will be because that’s all printed and ready to go out into the world. It’s called Never Teach a Stegosaurus To Do Sums and it’s illustrated by a fabulous illustrator called Diane Ewen. This book is all about the power and magic of maths and numbers and all the incredible things you can do with them (SPOILER: it’s got robots, rockets, AND aliens!).