Jersey-born children’s author and illustrator Allison Parkinson lives with her husband and daughters in London. Her books celebrate diversity and her lifelong love of the ocean.
I had an idyllic childhood in Jersey, spending what seemed like endless summer days jumping waves, building castles and exploring rock pools. My husband loves the sea also, so our family holidays have always been firmly based around the beach.
When our daughters were at primary school we spent many half-term breaks in the Isle of Wight – a beautiful place that frequently reminds me of the carefree innocence of my childhood.
Happy memories of these trips helped to form the backdrop to my Laurella Swift stories which centre around a ten-year-old mixed-race girl who, while on a chalet holiday in West Wight, discovers that she can travel through time and dimensions. Items in a Freshwater charity shop transport her back in time on a series of historical fantasy adventures.
Laurella is very special to me because she’s based on my daughters. I created her because, when my daughters were younger, we found it almost impossible to find chapter books with a lead character that looked like them. I wanted her to be funny, feisty, brave and kind – just like them. And I wanted her to go on rip-roaring adventures!
I also wanted to weave in descriptions of the sea throughout my books to hopefully share the magic of the ocean with young readers and explore how the sea can heighten the senses and stir the emotions.
The call of the sea is definitely getting stronger as I get older and I long to spend more time at the coast. But even in London I keep myself connected to the ocean through the many pebbles, shells and pieces of sea glass that I have picked up from the shore – priceless treasures as far as I’m concerned!
I’m now working on my next children’s book which is set in Jersey. I want it to be a love letter to the island, cloaked in magic, and I can’t wait to tell young readers all about its breath taking beauty.