With the health of nature, people and the planet at its heart, the Terra Carta is a roadmap to sustainability, launched in January 2021 by HRH the Prince of Wales and his Sustainable Markets Initiative. Although primarily aimed at business, it immediately caught the attention of Christopher Lloyd, co-founder of children’s non-fiction publisher What on Earth Books.
In 2015, Lloyd published a book called The Magna Carta Chronicle to mark the 800th anniversary of this historic charter. âAs soon as I read about the Terra Carta initiative, I thought, ‘There is a huge opportunity to try and tell the story of this new charter in a way that will appeal to younger people and potentially have an even greater impact, because today’s children are the managers of tomorrow. Lloyd also realized that the ideal time to publish such a book would be to coincide with COP26 in November 2021. So, through an existing contact, he was able to arrange a quick meeting with Clarence House, and as to Following its presentation, the project received the green light in partnership with the Prince’s Foundation. And so, It’s up to us to decide: a Terra Carta for children for nature, people and the planet was born, a book that takes children on a colorful and stimulating journey through the wonders of the planet, the threats we face and what we can do to change the situation.
At that time, it was mid-March and Lloyd was faced with the challenge of creating and producing a picture book in a matter of weeks. âThere wasn’t enough time to order a single illustrator, so we were left by default to think, ‘Well, let’s get a whole range of illustrators involved. And the more we thought about it, the more wonderful the idea became because the whole point of the book is that no matter where you come from, everyone is in the same boat. So commissions were sent to illustrators around the world as Lloyd worked on creating a text that would both capture the spirit of the original Terra Carta and appeal to children ages six and up as well. “It was sheer luck that the Terra Carta structure of nature, people, and the planet lent itself so well to crafting the book’s simple and accessible narrative,” Lloyd said.
The result is a triumph, both in terms of the poetic text and the emotional impact of the extremely contrasting styles of illustration on display. Gunnella from Iceland photographed an Icelandic family planting trees next to the foreword to the Prince of Wales book (at the bottom left). Black Douglas, an Australian illustrator partly of Aboriginal descent, painted a moving portrait of desertification, with Y-shaped trees as if to say: why have we come to this? (at the bottom right)
Poonam Mistry from India used a style reminiscent of embroidery to illustrate a passage that talks about the preciousness of air, land and oceans, while a release by British author and illustrator Nick Hayes uses a style derived from ancient woodcuts to depict a diver underwater, surrounded by plastic (below). âI think the power of the book comes from the fact that illustrators interpret the subject through the prism of their own cultures and experiences,â says Lloyd.
Given the nature of the project, it was also of the utmost importance that the book was produced in a sustainable manner: it was printed in the UK with vegetable-based inks on revival paper in a way that also allowed for measure the carbon emissions of the materials used. âWe have a certificate from the World Land Trust to show that the carbon footprint was 280 grams per pound, an impact that has now been offset, but more interestingly, on the back of the book we show that 280 grams equates to producing five apples, a third of a glass of milk or a fifth of a plastic toothbrush, âsays Lloyd.
With the book scheduled for publication on November 1, funding has been secured from investment management firm Baillie Gifford to have a copy delivered to every primary school in Scotland on the occasion of COP26 in Glasgow. And plans for a traveling exhibition of the artwork from the book are also well underway, for which Lloyd also interviews each of the 33 illustrators about the things that inspired them to become an artist, the techniques they use and the tips. that they would give to young budding artists.
QR codes under each work in the exhibition will allow visitors to access videos of artists talking about their work. âThe book cover illustrators are two Vietnamese colleagues who told me that when they were growing up it was totally taboo for anyone to want a career in illustration because they were expected to become doctors. , or lawyers, or engineers. The fact that they were able to have a career in illustration is potentially a brilliant role model for other children, âLloyd tells me.
In short, the experience of publishing It depends on us prompted Lloyd to think about how What On Earth Publishing itself might work to meet the Terra Carta commitments which also appear on the spine of the book in their original form. âI think seriously about all aspects of our business. Not only what books do we make and what we print on and where the books are printed, but also how we can work as an organization in ways that minimize the impact we have, while maximizing consumer demand.
It’s Up to Us: A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People and Planet will be published by What on Earth Publishing on November 1 (9781913750558, Â£ 16.99)