Handa’s surpsie is a fun story about friendship and childhood adventures. Audiences can travel to Kenya and follow in Handa’s footsteps as she journeys to see her best friend Akeyo, in the next village. Handa is taking seven delicious fruits as a surprise – but seven different animals have seven very different ideas… could you resist the sweet-smelling guava? How about a ripe red mango or a tangy purple passion fruit? With the show currently running at Little Angel Theatre until 16 April 2022 we caught up with Eileen Browne, the writer behind the book.
What originally inspired you to become an author and illustrator?
I loved making up stories and drawing pictures as a child and this never went away. So after trying out office work, graphics and becoming a teacher, I became an illustrator and eventually, an author.
Where does your passion come from?
I’ve always loved reading and creating picture books, especially when the illustrations and words work together to make a fantastic whole book. It is my passion, but I’ve become more aware of the lack of diversity and how ‘unequal’ the content is; for example, books with male characters outnumber female by two to one. Children grow up seeing males as having more importance and this continues to adulthood. Hopefully, one day there will be equality throughout all children’s media.
Can you tell us one thing we may not know about you or the inspiration behind
Handa is a name from the Luo tribe of Kenya. Most Luo girls’ names begin with ‘A’ e.g. Akeyo and most Luo boys’ names begin with ‘O’ e.g. Obama – you’ve probably heard that name before!
Where do your ideas and inspirations behind your stories come from?
The ideas for my picture books often begin with a visual image but sometimes they come from a childhood memory or are triggered by a recent experience.
How is it to see your book brought to life by the Little Angel Theatre team?
Every time that it happens it’s a thrill!
Handa’s Surprise is directed by Marleen Vermeulen with set design by Sophia Lovell Smith and puppets made by Peter O’Rourke and the production uses a blend of physical performance, puppetry, live music and song combine to create an intimate, magical show with lots of audience participation. Catch it at the Little Angel Theatre until 16th of April. More info and bookings here.