The Perfect Fit by Naomi and James Jones is a fantastic introduction to shapes and colours, with a wonderful story about fitting in and acceptance of difference as ‘triangle’ tries to find her place in the world. Naomi writes about how watching her own son’s struggles to fit in at nursery inspired the story.
A few years ago, my husband James gave me a post-it note with a few shape characters sketched on it and suggested I write a story about them. Not long afterwards, our eldest son started nursery, and for the first month or so, he really struggled to fit in with the other children. The other children wanted to play different games to the ones he wanted to play, so he would inevitably end up playing on his own. It was perfectly normal behaviour for three and four-year-olds, but at the same time, as a parent, you really want your child to be happy in their nursery or school setting.
We didn’t want our son to feel like he had to change to fit in with the other children, but equally, we wanted him to learn the value that can be found in stepping outside of your comfort zone and playing different games with new children. As our son grew in confidence, this happened naturally. But it was the conversations we had with him about it being ok to feel different and not having to fit in or be the same as everyone else that really sparked off my ideas for The Perfect Fit.
I also wrote the first draft of The Perfect Fit not long after the UK had voted for Brexit. I really wanted to write a story that consciously celebrated differences instead of focusing on them as something negative. Life is so much richer and more interesting when everyone isn’t exactly the same, and I think that’s something you can learn even when you’re very small.
My mum was a primary school teacher for twenty years and she encouraged my love of reading from a young age – we had lots of books at home and she took me and my sister on weekly trips to the library to borrow new ones. Teachers do such an important job and I’ve loved seeing my son get inspired by the books his teachers have read in class. I’m really excited to think that some teachers might share The Perfect Fit with their children and I hope it encourages conversations around diversity and inclusion, as well as being a fun way to teach them about shapes and tessellation!
Since the third lockdown began in January, my children have been homeschooled. They will (hopefully) be returning to school and nursery soon. My boys are now in pre-school and year 1, and like all children in the UK, have had a really disjointed last academic year. We also moved house last month, so they changed schools virtually, which was a strange experience for them.
Soon they will start at their new school and pre-school and navigate relationships with their new classmates, all of whom will have experienced the last few months of lockdown differently. It feels like the same ideas which inspired The Perfect Fit back when I wrote it are now more relevant than ever, not just for my children as they make new friends, but for all children as they adjust back into a traditional learning setting.
I’d love to think that The Perfect Fit will be useful when talking to children about fitting in and celebrating the joy of difference. But more than anything, my dream is for this to be a story that parents and teachers really enjoy reading with their children and that children love to hear.
About Naomi and James Jones
Naomi has loved stories for as long as she can remember and has always wanted to write books. She worked in Rights in Children’s Publishing for over eight years and is now a freelance editor, and is also the children’s books reviewer for the popular blog Mini Travellers. Naomi loves to travel and once spent a month living with Navajo Indians in America. She also enjoys reading, playing netball and practising yoga.
Originally from Anglesey in North Wales, James is an award-winning Art Director & Designer who has created iconic covers for a wide range of books, from Booker Prize-winners to autobiographies by Keith Richards and Sir Bradley Wiggins. He works freelance designing book covers for Publishers all over the world. A keen sportsman, James loves wild swimming, running in half marathons and playing football.
Naomi and James live in Cornwall, with their boys, a springer spaniel and their black and white cat. They are currently at work on their next collaborations.