My booklaunch speech
Isn’t this a brilliant bookshop? David and I have always said that the one thing that was missing in our neighbourhood was a bookshop and La Voila! Thank you Alex and Liz! I promised Alex my speech wouldn’t be long so she didn’t have to put chairs out … so if your legs get weary, blame me!
As many of you know, I have two children of my own. When they were young, I tried my best to teach them about money. Whenever a commercial came on TV that had them hooked, I'd shout "What do they want?!" And they’d shout back "Our money!” It was our little joke. Diarmid says, during moments of consumer temptation, he still hears my voice. Anya says she was too young to remember … but I know it’s in there!
And as many of you know, I don’t come from a background of economics, personal finance, or anything well paid like that. I've had to be careful with money all my life because, first, I was an art and film student, then a musician, then a cartoonist, and then a single mum. But that’s ok because I taught myself how to collaborate with money and how to build my home with songs and cartoons.
Still, money wasn’t an easy path for me. Math was something I couldn’t master at school no matter how hard I tried. But when I started my own business and had to do my own accounts, I realized to my surprise, I could do them: I just had to think harder than most people. And if I imagined the ledger pages as diary pages, accounts could be a little tiny bit, well, fun. But don’t tell my accounts that. They take themselves are very seriously, you know.
Financial literacy for children was a subject that caught my imagination a number of years ago. I wanted to create a series of books that helped children understand not only basic money concepts like earning and spending, saving and giving, but also more abstract concepts, like why some children's parents had more money than others, or why some parents have to work. I went to school with children from the wealthy side of the tracks, and I could have done with a book that reassured me that having less money didn't make me less valuable. Helping kids understand what money is, and does … and how to see it as a friend … is the driving force behind the Moneybunnies series.
BUT, first books first! EARN IT! (or, for my Gaelic family in the audience, COISINN E!) features a little bunny named Bun, whose natural exuberance and excellent singing voice is inspired by my dear daughter Anya, whose nickname, coincidentally, is also Bun. Bun wants to be rich and famous overnight but her calm, gentle, fabulous mother reminds her that most good things, like the garden they are growing together, take time and work. Bun is at first disappointed but as she does the math and daydreams about her future singing career, Bun starts to like the idea of earning her way to stardom, a path that comes with its own satisfaction.
SPEND IT! is the next book in the Moneybunnies series and proving to be a little less Scottish work-ethic (I can say that because my background is Scottish!) and a wee bit more silly. SPEND IT! features wee, excitable Sonny, who, when his mother suggests he not spend his allowance without giving it some thought first, indignantly replies, “I don’t want to THINK! I want to SPEND!”
And now I’ve come to the thanks bit. David says that competitions are a loser’s game, and likewise, thank you's are a loser’s game, for how can you count everything your friends and family and strangers and even foes do to help make an idea a solid thing? I am of course grateful to my Penguin Publisher Nancy Paulsen, and my agent Samantha Haywood and Queen Books for letting us drink on empty stomachs in their bookshop, and my parents and Anya, Ceilidh, Diarmid and Dylan for their inspiration, and David for his constant support. But I am also grateful to everyone of you in this room tonight – for coming out and celebrating this moment, and for being my friends and family.
The cartoon in the back of EARN IT! is inspired by a lovely quote that is probably closest to something William Bruce Cameron once wrote, and is often wrongly attributed to Einstein: “Not everything that can be counted, counts. And not everything that counts can be counted.” Even more lovely is Oscar Wilde’s quote: “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” I value you all. You are all rich and famous to me.