Tell us a bit about yourselves?
Our names are Tom and Joe Brassington and we’re brothers born and raised in Burton who both trained as primary school teachers and now work in primary schools in the midlands area. Tom trained in Music Theatre at university and Joe in Fine art. Earlier this year, we launched a crowdfunding publishing campaign with Unbound (the world’s largest crowdfunding publishing company) to try and get our first children’s picturebook, ‘Bottled’ into the hands of children up and down the country.
What was your writing process and main inspiration?
We came up with the idea for ‘Bottled’ about four years ago. At that time it was a simple concept, we had seen the damage that bottling up how we feel could do and were particularly concerned about the growing issues with young people around mental health and we felt a book like Bottled, that seeks to help children talk about their feelings with adults they trust, might help.
We had a close family member experience mental ill-health and were struck by how rubbish we had been about talking about how we feel and how helpful a resource like Bottled would have been for us when we were growing up. In many ways, it’s this personal element that has made the project even more important to us.
What were your favourite children’s book?
Our family favourite was Owl Babies- it was the book our parents read to us each night when we were growing up. To be honest, Joe was never a huge fan of reading growing up! How things change!
What made you want to work in education?
We both had the benefits of inspirational teachers when we were at school who helped us discover who we were, embrace our talents and broaden our horizons. We also had teachers which we didn’t get along with as well! We both desperately wanted to be even a fraction like the inspirational teachers we loved sharing a classroom with when we were growing up.
What message do you hope to send out when young people read your book read your book?
It’s our hope that Bottled will help teachers, counsellors/support workers and families to discuss the importance of sharing how we feel. If one young person feels more equipped to discuss their mental health with someone they trust as a result of reading our book, it will all have been worth it!
What kind of research did you do and how much time did you spend on this before starting to the book?
As we said, this book has been a LONG time in the making! Prior to writing the book, we spent a great deal of time reflecting with one another about our daily experiences in the classrooms. We noticed that children are often expected to discuss how they feel either on a very basic level (happy/sad/angry) or as part of a writing or reading process, rather than thinking about their nuanced and personal feelings. We spent a lot of time in discussion with our colleagues within the education sector and have actually shared the book in year groups 2-6 to review its effectiveness and to ensure it’s an accessible and as relevant an education tool as we can make it.
The statistic that we kept revisiting and that reminds us constantly of the importance of this kind of work is that 1 in 8 young people between the ages of 5-19 in the UK have an issue with mental ill-health. We’ve been supported during our campaign so far by a number of parents of children who lost their battle with mental ill-health precisely because the youngster didn’t know how to talk about how they were feeling with someone they trusted- we truly believe this is something nobody should have to go through and want to do our best to ensure it doesn’t happen to other families.
What do you do to take care of your mental health and wellbeing?
We’re both into our exercise- Tom enjoys running and Joe loves yoga, we also both love food and particularly like trying out new recipes! As we have worked on this book, we’ve both challenged ourselves to become more emotionally honest and to discuss our mental health and well-being in a more frank and confident way. We both found this difficult to begin with, but there becomes a real benefit in sharing how your feel with people you trust- it really can take huge weights off your mind!
How can people get in touch or buy your book?
We would love your support in helping our children’s book get published. We have to raise a huge target of over £15,000 in order to do so. We are already 2/3 of the way there but we still have a way to go. It really is our hope that every school in Burton will have copies of this book in their library! And the brilliant thing about supporting our crowdfunding campaign is you get hold of a copy of the book for yourself with your name printed inside- you can then keep, gift or donate that book to whoever you like!
If you think you’ll be able to support financially, the best place for more information is our website- https://unbound.com/books/bottled/
Maybe you’d like more information about the project before supporting or you’d like us to explain how your could pledge towards a copy of the book going to a school in Burton – why not drop us an email at [email protected]
If you’re a local business interested in supporting Bottled- please get in touch via email, we would love to work alongside you and share your business with our 18,000+ following on social media.
Our book campaign is also on Instagram, Twitter and facebook- all easily found by searching for @bottledbook