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Thursday 3 October 2013

Guest Post: Travelling the World with Bella and Harry!

Author Lisa Manzione

Lisa Manzione is the author behind the series The Adventures of Bella and Harry. Today, she tells KBR why the series came about and how it’s taken on a life of its own!

In today’s world families just don’t have the time, or sometimes the financial means, to see the world. This was the inspiration behind my series of picture books with illustrator Kristine Lucco, The Adventures of Bella & Harry.

The series began in late 2011 as a fun way for children to learn about other countries, cultures and customs. As two working mums, Kristine and I were chatting one day about the fact that many children just don’t have any knowledge of the world in which we live. Fortunately, I have been travelling the world as long as I can remember, and Kristine is a great illustrator, so we put our minds together and came up with an idea!
Illustrator Kristine Lucco
We wanted to use characters that children could relate to. Bella is actually my daughter’s Chihuahua, and if Bella could talk, she would know everything! Of course, Bella couldn’t travel the world alone, hence the creation of Harry, her fellow Chihuahua. Through the eyes of these two cute Chihuahuas, children aged 5–10 can gain an appreciation of other cultures just by reading and travelling along with Bella, Harry and their family. The stories are told in a humorous way, so the child has fun while learning about different foods, landmarks and just a little bit of history.

So many of us living in countries such as Australia and the United States have family history that traces back to Europe, so the series is also a great resource to begin a discussion about your family roots. It helps youngsters to understand where their family came from and, hopefully, stimulates their minds to explore more about the world on their own, whether through the use of the internet, family discussions or different books about the world.

Instilling tolerance of other customs and cultures was another huge inspiration for the books. As avid travellers abroad ourselves, we loved exploring the many different cultures and customs; we thought it would be a great idea to expand children’s minds to be more accepting and more inquisitive about other cultures at a young age and therefore hopefully eliminate any stereotyping or uncomfortable feelings about someone who might not be just like them.

To accompany the series, the Bella and Harry website was launched. Packed full of activities, it gives children a new way to interact with the characters and also keeps them up to date with what Bella and Harry have planned next!

Fortunately the books have been embraced as not only fun, but also educational in a way that leaves children wanting to know more about countries, cultures and landmarks. And maybe … just maybe … a couple of Chihuahua puppies as well! So, for all the little world travellers out there, pack your bags for a fun adventure with Bella & Harry! We’re off to … Paris, Venice, London, Cairo, Athens, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Rome, Istanbul and Jerusalem!

The Adventures of Bella & Harry books are available from the website as well as online retailers.