Ruth Walton is a British author and illustrator of educational books for primary children. She has written and illustrated seven books including the Let’s Find Out series. Through quirky illustrations and lively text, these books help children to find out about the world around them and beyond. She is particularly interested in helping children to learn about ethical issues in food and manufacturing.
Today, in honour of International Children’s Book Day, we’ve got the spotlight on Ruth Walton’s most recent book, Juliana’s Bananas (New Internationalist, 2014), a superb resource which introduces us to the people who grow our bananas and helps children understand the challenges of getting this delicious fruit to your local grocery store. Ruth agreed to answer our…
5 Questions about Juliana’s Bananas:
1. How did you get interested in bananas?
I’ve always loved eating bananas but had never even seen one growing so I decided to go on a fact finding adventure! After learning more about the banana industry I decided to make a book which helps children understand how eating Fairtrade bananas can help families in other parts of the world.
2. Tell us about the producers you met. Is there a real life Juliana? What was her biggest challenge?
I was lucky enough to visit St Vincent, St Lucia, and Dominica in the Windward Islands, where I met lots of farmers. The real life Juliana who inspired the story works very hard every day to keep her fruit healthy, but her livelihood is always under threat as it is very hard for individual farms and small producers to meet the strict standards set by supermarkets and consumers. Hurricanes and plant diseases also cause terrible problems for the farmers over there.
3. Your story includes Juliana’s children, Bertha and Billy. What’s their life like? What impact do you think the Fairtrade system has on children?
On my travels I saw many great projects which had been funded by Fairtrade social premium money, including school buses, football fields, basketball courts, science equipment and computer rooms for schools. Buying Fairtrade helps to fund facilities which improve the lives of children and whole communities in lots of different ways.
4. Can you describe the collage technique you use so beautifully in the book?
I did the illustrations in Juliana’s Bananas using a mixture of techniques. I make hand-cut collages using painted paper and then scan them in to the computer and layer them up using parts of photographs. I add finer details with a calligraphic pen.
5. What’s your favourite banana treat?
Banana fritters are delicious! You can find them on page 25 of Juliana’s Bananas, but in case you can’t wait until you’ve got a copy, here is the recipe…