Out this week from Merky Books is Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength, a comic strip-style book celebrating more than 50 iconic British figures, chosen by rapper Stormzy and the team at the Merky Foundation, with an intention of challenging the lack of representation in children’s publishing.
Released under the Merky Books imprint, Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength is written by Sophia Thakur, with illustrated by Denzell Dankwah, and Stormzy has also written an introduction for the book.
The book features new, daring tales of inspiration from over fifty iconic British icons today, who have each harnessed their curiosity and ambition and turned it into their own superhero power.
Every inspirational figure has something that makes them special, and this is a book filled with inspiring journeys, to encourage and empower you to harness your power, and become your own superhero.
These include Princess K, who went from tapping her foot under the desk at school, to dancing centre stage at Glastonbury; Dina Asher Smith, who started out crawling at lightning speed and became the fastest British woman in history; Emmanuelle Lhoni, currently the youngest black female weather presenter at the BBC, given the power to communicate with the weather, who described her selection as “humbling”; poet, journalist and musician and Stadio Football founder Muse Okwonga; writer and director Reggie Yates, who used his power of empathy to connect instantly both in person and through the TV; Riz Ahmed, whose ability to code-switch between cultures and creative outlets let him excel as a scholar, actor, activist, and rapper; vegan chef, Omari McQueen; and Liam Charles, who followed his childhood passion in the kitchen to become a Bake Off master.
The title shares its name with Stormzy’s single, “Superheroes”, released last year, which he paired with a music video celebrating real life heroes like Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford and his work campaigning against child food poverty and for young literacy, and paying tribute to Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman.
Only seven per cent of children’s books published in the UK between 2017 and 2019 features characters of colour. Superheroes Assistant Editor Tallulah Lyons says the team wanted to combat that by publishing a book that allowed “the younger generation to see themselves represented in a way that they may not have experienced before.”
Sophia Thakur is an award-winning, best-selling author, performance poet and songwriter. She has performed her intimately powerful poems on the TEDx Stage and at Glastonbury. Her deeply thought provoking but gentle messages on love, well-being, race, politics and empowerment has led to participation at events organised by The Guardian, The Royal Family, Sky, BBC, Viacom and Universal Music. Her debut book Somebody Give This Heart a Pen, published by Walker Books in 2016 was a US #1 Bestseller.
Artist Denzell Dankwah is a 21-year-old British-born Ghanaian, based in Northampton. He is currently in his final year at the University of Gloucestershire studying Illustration (BA Hons). Comic books and graphic novels influence Denzell’s art heavily and it is love for the medium that encouraged him to start drawing at an early age. Superheroes is his first book.
Merky Books is an imprint within Penguin Random House UK, dedicated to publishing the best new fiction, non-fiction and poetry, founded by Stormzy in 2018, launched with his first book, Rise Up. Merky Books aims to publish two to three books per year, offering a home for a new generation of voices.
Eight per cent of the Recommended Retail Price for all print sales in the UK of Superheroes will be donated to the Merky Foundation, an organisation that’s always used its #Merky brand to elevate, support and amplify the issues and the voices of the black community. To continue and expand upon our activism and philanthropic work, the #Merky Foundation pledges £10 million over 10 years, to organisations, charities and movements that are committed to fighting for racial equality, justice reform and black empowerment within the UK.
• Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength is available now from all good bookshops, as en eBook and audio download | ISBN 9781529118896 | Buy it from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
• Merky Foundation www.merkyfoundation.org.uk