Barbara Panetta’s Illustrated Books for Children – Barbara Panetta is the author of Chloe’s Promise and Chloe and the Gr-ant-father Clock two illustrated children’s books and video books in aid of Momentum Children’s Charity supporting children with cancer or life challenging conditions and their families.
“I wish my book will bring a huge smile to all those unfortunate children” Barbara said.
Originally from the South of Italy, she is a mum of two girls currently based in Richmond, Surrey, where she lives with her family and her golden retriever. Her linguistics studies and interest in psychology drew her to write her first novel Ricordi in Movimento. She also curated several publications.
Women Talking find out how the idea of Chloe’s books was born:
“I have written those stories for my daughters when they were much younger. It was over the first lockdown that I had the idea to make them public to help the children. – reveals Barbara – One day I was in my garden listening to one of my daughters practising the piano when I noticed a column of ants struggling to collect a biscuit crumb that had fallen to the ground. This set my thoughts in motion and the idea for ‘Chloe’s Promise’ germinated. While writing ‘Chloe and the Gr- father Clock’ I was thinking of my daughters who developed very different skills, interests, abilities to solve their problems and have different views, and this is what the story is about, making a difference and that each of us has different unique and special skills”.
To create the books, Barbara worked together with children’s psychologist Giovanna Campolo to ensure that the words used, and the morals were appropriate for children of two years and above. The result is a charming, illustrative work that is sure to engage any child.
“The main character in those stories – she explains – is a little ant named Chloe and her family. The focus is the relationship between adults and young children, and especially the ways in which they both learn to trust and respect each other, help each other and the choices they make”.
The books are enriched by beautiful watercolour illustrations, painted by Barbara.
“I am not an illustrator” she remarked- I always loved drawing and recently explore the water colour. Watercolour reproduces such a smooth effect with vibrant colours, which is perfect for children. I have used watercolour rather than digital processing, to keep it as simple as possible”. The idea to have intentionally added spots of colour in most of the pages was to give the impression of unfinished work and share with readers the meaning that nothing is perfect.
Through such illustrations and the use of simple language, children can therefore identify with the main characters, comparing themselves to hard-working, determined and disciplined ants.
“I have chosen an ant”, she explained, “because it is not one of the most beautiful insects, to convey the message to the children that the beauty comes from the inside rather than the outside appearance”.
Both books aim to raise charity funds:
“Since the beginning – affirms Barbara – my intention was to support storytelling at home between parents and children during the COVID-19 crisis. I believe that at difficult times we can all contribute, in different ways. I also really wanted to help children in need, therefore all profits generated from the book are donated to the local UK registered charity called Momentum Children’s Charity, which is supporting children with cancer or life challenging conditions. I wish my book will bring a big smile to all those unfortunate children”.
Both books are accompanied by a video book narrated by a UK celebrity. The first book ‘Choe’s Promise’ is benefiting from the collaboration of Ben Shephard, presenter of ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Tipping Point. The second book ‘Chloe and the Gr-ant-father Clock’ is read by Sally Phillips, an award-winning actress known for her role in Bridget Jones’ Diary films and the comedy Smack the Pony. Pianist Alessandro Viale is also the composer of the soundtrack and original music of the video books performed with violinist Laura Marzadori, lead violinist of the Scala Theatre Milan.
For Barbara music is very important, having two little musicians at home.
Both Barbara’s daughters play the piano since they were three years old. She believes that it is very important for children to familiarise themselves with music from an early age:
“Music is the universal language and as a language has the power to express the vast spectrum of new emotions that a child undergoes whilst growing up. I am certain that the children will appreciate the music and understand the importance of it. I hope they will enjoy the beautiful music of Ant Chloe!”
Both books have been translated into different languages for the children who are not English.