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Children's & YA

'Don't Ask the Dragon' by Lemn Sissay


Lemn Sissay, the award-winning, bestselling writer and poet, and artist Greg Stobbs have been friends since 2016 when they collaborated on Warrior Poets, an immersive installation inspired by the words of refugees and young people in care at the Marlow Theatre, Canterbury.

Their idea for Don’t Ask the Dragon, a picture book for young children, was inspired by Lemn’s Christmas Dinner project and the desire to write a book for children searching for a joyful place to belong on special days of the year.


What we did

Lemn is a national treasure, known for his poetry, broadcast and theatre appearances and No.1 bestselling memoir, My Name is Why (also promoted by EDPR). Greg Stobbs is a world-renowned street artist whose unique ability to bring stories to life ensured this partnership was a match made in heaven.

Don’t Ask the Dragon is a heart-warming story about belonging and inclusion, and our aim was to reach all parents and their little dragons via a strategy that focussed on the power of words, pictures and performance. We wanted Don’t Ask the Dragon to become an instant children’s classic, so sought early author endorsements from celebrated authors in the field with Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson all offering wonderful quotes.

Lemn is a much-loved figured in the national media, so we harnessed this support and built on the success of his Sunday Times bestselling memoir to engage high profile national print and broadcast interviews, as well as secure coveted children’s reviews in national press to establish Lemn and Greg’s place within the picture book world. In the lead up to publication the book was featured in the Guardian Saturday Magazine, Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Channel 4 Steph’s Packed Lunch, BBC Radio 5 Nihal, BBC World Service Arts Hour and Times Radio

Greg’s incredible illustration skills were also central to our strategy, with bookshop windows decorated by Greg including Chiltern Bookshop in Gerrards Cross, Round Table Books in Brixton, Afrori Books in Brighton, and Waterstones Deansgate. Live events have also been key; in the book, a little boy Alem is searching for a place to belong on his birthday, so we curated birthday party events as part of a live series of appearances by Lemn and Greg that took in schools, festivals, bookshops and museums. We also partnered with the National Literacy Trust, the Foundling Museum on World Book Day Seven Stories and Discover Story Centre and ensured we reached children from less advantaged communities as well as those in foster care.

Lemn and Greg continue to travel the country appearing at literary festivals and delighting young readers wherever they go.

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