Here at MFM HQ, we definitely feel like we’re seeing more and more great children’s books about strong female leaders, thoughtful boys, and representations of children from all backgrounds amongst the characters.
(To which we say: keep up the good work, and keep ‘em coming!)
And adding to the much-needed pile is the 2nd instalment of Alesha Dixon’s kids book series, Lightning Girl, about a 10-year-old, mixed race superhero named Aurora Beam.
Perhaps you’d never guess that Alesha was behind a series of children’s books, as she’s best known as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, or as a member of ‘00s girl group Mis-Teeq.
But now, she’s also the voice of the first ever black Powerpuff Girl, Bliss, on Cartoon Network, and is writing the 3rd Lightning Girl book as we speak.
So it’s pretty safe to say its actually all about female superheroes for Alesha at the mo…
“Superheroes [are] definitely running my life at the moment,” she tells MFM HQ during a chat. “I think from when Black Panther came out, and obviously writing Lightning Girl and voicing Bliss, it feels like superheroes have taken over.
“When the Powerpuff opportunity came along, it just felt right. Such an iconic show. And to have a Powerpuff Girl of colour I thought was genius, and very now.”
Growing up, 39-year-old Alesha says there “weren’t many role models” for her to look up to – in books, on TV.
Aurora’s exactly the kind of character she wants her 4-year-old daughter, Azura, to see – strong, confident, with big, brown curly hair and a darker skin tone.
“When you’re a young child and you’re looking out into the big wide world, you wanna feel represented, so I just love the idea of creating a character who my daughter can look at,” she says.
“What’s so lovely for me, on a personal note, [is that] it’s as simple as Azura doing her hair, or something she picks out of her wardrobe, and she might say something like, ‘Oh mummy, I’ve got my hair like Aurora Beam today’.
“That really is lovely because I never really had that when I was a young girl.
“My daughter equally loves Rapunzel, and that’s great,” she adds. “That’s the thing, a bit of everything and something for everyone.”
We tell her we feel like we’re starting to see more representation in kids’ media, and she agrees: “I feel like we’re moving into a new era.
“There’s many ways of looking at it, many different arguments and as with everything in life, there’s always room for improvement.
“Things can always be better, but where the current climate is right now: it feels positive, like anything is possible. “It feels like multiculturalism is the way forward, and it feels right.
“For me, the root of it: until we stop having the conversation, it probably is a little bit more that could be done, but we’re in a transitional period, it’s a healthy one, and I see we’re moving in the right direction. I feel optimistic.”
Lightning Girl 2: Superhero Squad is out now on Amazon
Images: Instagram/Alesha Dixon