HOW ANANSI BECAME A RABBIT... AND BACK AGAIN
Children's Picture Book
Approaching the brief to create a type-based project based on migration, I asked myself what I could bring to it that others
might not. So I looked into my family history and discovered that my name is
actually incorrectly spelled. My grandfather went to America in the 1940s. At
the time, his name was spelled “Earley” but it was taken down wrong on Ellis
Island as “Early”. He kept the mis-spelling since he got married in the States
and changing it would have caused too much trouble.
My research into migratory name changes brought me to slavery. While many migrants retained records of their previous names, slaves couldn’t. Their original names, and heritage, were stolen from them.
I decided I would create a project based on this fact but I had a new problem.
How could I present the content? I considered going for a straightforward book
of research, detailing all I had learned. But that research actually led me to the
solution and, I feel, the perfect mode for containing the content.
I had previously heard of Anansi but I had not been aware that he became Br’er Rabbit over time. He, therefore, had had his name changed through migration.
The Anansi stories were mostly allegories or fables, simplifying complex concepts for children. So I decided to create a new Anansi story, taking elements of existing tales, to tell a story about migration, lost names and slavery.
I found that many picture books were quite large so I decided to go for a
slightly smaller square size, in order that children could hold the book, while
their parents read to them. I went for Recoleta Alt typeface - primarily in Black
- as it had a warm, approachable feel to it, as well a retro tone which fitted
nicely with the tale. After some experimentation, I settled on simple, rounded
vector illustrations were designed
to mimic some of the rounded
letter-forms of the type. The colour
scheme was inspired by African
Many children’s books also include pages detailing the facts of the story. I decided that I should include similar pages, so that the child could learn some of the truth of what happened as they got older.