Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Meghan Announces Her Children's Book Debut Inspired by Harry & Archie

The Duchess of Sussex has made her children's book debut with The Bench, a beautiful story about the special relationship between a father and son as seen through a mother's eyes. The Duchess revealed the inspiration for the book came from a poem she wrote Harry for Father's Day, a month after Archie was born. "That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine."

"This is your bench

Where you’ll witness great joy.

From here you will rest

See the growth of our boy."

- Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex


Archewell shared more on the themes of the book:

'Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Bench gives readers a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort.'

The Duchess partnered with Caldecott winner and bestselling illustrator Christian Robinson, who worked in watercolour for the first time to "reflect the beauty of a father’s love through a mother’s eyes". In an interview with Read Brightly, Christian revealed his childhood love of art: "Creativity allowed me to be in charge, to make my own rules, and create my own little world on paper." 

Based in Sacramento, California, he has worked with the Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios. Christian described working with Meghan on the book as "an honour".

This is a natural progression for Meghan. The possibility of her writing a children's book is something we've discussed for several years. She's an incredibly talented writer with a unique family and this story feels like the perfect choice for her debut. In the book's description, Meghan is described as "a mother, wife, feminist, and activist". Continuing to include a special reference to the newest members of the Sussex family -- chickens: "Through the nonprofit work of Archewell Foundation, she and her husband are committed to activating compassion in communities across the world. She currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs and a growing flock of rescue chickens."

The book is being published by Random House Children’s Books in the US and according to Archewell, "Simultaneously by Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, and Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House Children’s UK in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa." Mallory Loehr, executive vice-president and publisher at Random House Books for Young Readers Group, said:

"Meghan’s touching text explores the relationship between fathers and sons and undeniably tugs at the heartstrings that parents and caregivers feel. Christian’s art beautifully matches the tender emotion of Meghan’s words, and every spread is infused with a vibrant sense of joy and love. The Bench is timeless - it feels destined to become one of those books that people will be reading for generations to come."

The Bench will be released 8 June in hardcover, kindle and an audiobook narrated by Meghan. It's available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, WaterstonesTarget and Hudson Booksellers.


I found this portion particularly moving:

"And here in the window

I'll have tears of great joy...

Looking out at my love

And our beautiful boy"




The image of a military dad coming home is a fitting tribute to fathers all over the world, including Harry.


It's a beautiful book which will reside in homes and libraries all over the world.

37 comments:

  1. Allison in US4 May 2021 at 18:37

    I got goosebumps reading it. Simple words but they have a lot of meaning and the sentiment is so genuine. The best books have a timeless message, and the joy of having a son, in this case, and watching him grow is universal. I love the illustrations. The colors are beautiful and soothing and bright yet not glaring. The trees are wonderful to look at, and the leaves take you on a journey of their own. I wondered if Meghan would do something incredible like she did waiting for Archie to be born and she did!

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  2. This is exciting. I look forward to reading this first book by the lovely, multi-talented Meghan. Thank you, Charlotte, for introducing us to wonderful artist Christian Robinson.

    R

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  3. Sheryl from BC Canada4 May 2021 at 19:06

    And the gifts just keep on coming. :)

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  4. The books sounds wonderful. And the illustrations are beautiful.

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  5. Denise in Virginia4 May 2021 at 20:11

    How beautiful! Meghan and Harry just keep moving forward, making a positive impact with every project. The book and illustrations are so sweet! Don't want to be greedy but I sure hope Meghan gets the time to write a sequel about a father and daughter once Baby Girl Sussex arrives. Thank you, as always Charlotte, for another lovely post.

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    1. Your wish snatched a smile from me.

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  6. Had just pre-ordered the book. Made a purchase because I want it to be a success. I both like Kate and Meghan but I feel for Meghan more because of all the deliberate, clickbait hate being sent to her direction. Successful, hardworking women in their own right always stir jealousy.

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    1. Indeed. So true. It's so sadly predictable and so very old. It's unbelievable that we haven't--after millennia of it--got past it already. Sigh...

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  7. Susan in Florida5 May 2021 at 00:55

    OMG ! I agree with Charlotte that this was a natural progression for Meghan. I can’t wait to get it to my nephew and his little boy.

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  8. I am so happy for Meghan that she ignores the nose and continues to thrive.

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  9. What I sweet book. But I have to strongly disagree with you Charlotte about one point. Meghan, Archie and his sister will never know the struggles of military families. Harry resigned from the army in 2015. Neither of them has made or will make the experience that is described in the picture. Which doesn’t mean Meghan shouldn’t use it. Recognising the struggles and worries those families live with can be done either way. But let’s not act as if they themselves have made them.
    About the book: I think those illustrations are lovely and it looks like this is a very beautiful book.
    C.

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    1. Actually the cover makes me think beyond Harry and Meghan. It makes me think of the many army men and women who left their families and returned especially during the Iraq war.

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    2. I mean not the direct experience of a deployment no but Harry is a veteran and has spoken about lingering mental health issues from that experience which may impact his family in ways we don’t know. And they are highly connected to and respected in the veteran community due to Invictus. I think this is a fair angle to take in the book.

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    3. I would agree with you C. the struggles of military families are not something Meghan and Harry have experienced. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and hopefully the intent was to be more general in effect and not literal.

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    4. Allison in US5 May 2021 at 16:34

      C. Of course you are right -- I first thought "Harry" was in fatigues because Meghan wanted to emphasize his military experience but I believe the people in the book are supposed to be inclusive, such as the other example showing a black man with his son. When we see all the images, it sounds like there will be more examples of "fathers." I expect to see fathers from around the world and with different experiences as best as can be illustrated.

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    5. Meghan says she wrote a book she hoped all families could relate to. It's not restricted to her family's experiences.

      R

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    6. I think some might have misunderstood- I don't think this angle was wrong to put into the book. I just wanted to correct Charlotte because, while Harry is a veteran the army lifestyle is not something they have experienced as a couple or family. That is all. The comment was not aimed at the book itself but at how we talk about what from the content can be tied back to personal experience and in that case, there is just no personal experience for Meghan.
      C.

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    7. Correction: The book's cover is the Bench and the natural outdoor environment.
      It is not the man, the child, and the woman ( experienced as Meghan) ( well red hair for who? / leave that alone for now/ it was written for the red hair new father and life partner / at least the initial inspiring poem)

      Although fathers come in all kinds of profession, live/work near, or far away, what remained in my mind had been the man in fatigues and his return to his family. Still the cover is that image in my psyche ( may be for a personal reason) until I get used to the book's cover.

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    8. I figured if it's an "inclusive" book + Harry's work with veterans = easy piece of the story. M&H don't have direct experience with deployment, yes. Though I'd wager Harry, through iniatives like Invictus, would have been touched by these stories (and shared them with Meghan). I hope the book is a success; I'm excited to see the different father-son relationships portrayed by the artist. And to second an earlier comment - I too am already excited for a mother-daughter book with Sussex #2;) -op

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  10. I'm hoping to be able to buy this for my partner for our anniversary to read to our son- he loves poetry. I'm also hoping to get Kate's too. My worry is that people are buying them in order to sell it for a lot more money. I hope it does well, I hope they both do.

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  11. Thank you Charlotte for the update. Do you know if the proceeds of the book will go to any charity? I tried to find out but couldn't see any mention of any charity being supported through this project. Thank you.

    Ava M.

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    1. I've looked as well and can't see any mention anywhere. How wonderful if the proceeds of this book could be used for military families in need, especially those separated by deployment.

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    2. Allison in US5 May 2021 at 16:36

      I saw no mention of charities. I'm sure the illustrator would have been paid appropriately -- he has already won awards for his illustrations, although these are his first using watercolor. Perhaps they will channel funds into Archewell or perhaps she will keep them, depending on how well it sells.

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  12. I feel a lot of pride for Meghan.
    A lot of Love emerges from this book that I can not wait to read especially when we do not ignore Harry's happiness to be a Dad and we have this ugly and cute curiosity to witness these moments when he is in his role as Dad.

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  13. Ahhh... Beautiful, just Beautiful!
    What a lovely book, in both words and illustrations.
    Charlotte, Thank you for another post about the positive, genuine energy that Meghan and Harry send into the world!
    Renee

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  14. I'm thrilled to learn today that the Judge ruled 100% in Meghan's favor in her lawsuit against the Daily Mail for publishing her private letter to her father.

    R

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    1. I’m just catching up on the data news and not YES!!! I love that it turns out the case was relying on a totally exaggerated claim and twist of fact by the very same newspaper group. I’ll be that lawyer was embarrassed.

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  15. This book looks like such a lovely creation of both Meghan and Christian. I don't have young children in my house but I have pre-ordered, from our local bookstore, 6 copies to be distributed to our local library branches. I'm thrilled that Meghan has made it so easy for us to give a bit to others.

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  16. I'm thrilled to have meghan loving what she doing I hoping I can own these beautiful book

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  17. Jessica in Los Angeles6 May 2021 at 16:09

    I love this! We don’t have a son, but we have 2 daughters. And I love seeing how my husband cherishes and loves them. I think this is a wonderful idea for a book, and I love that the illustrator included different races and examples to make it inclusive.

    Also, considering how she is attacked for anything and everything she does, I find this actually kind of brave for Meghan. No matter how much people try to kick her down, she just keeps on going.

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  18. Happy birthday dear Archie :)

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  19. Allison in US6 May 2021 at 20:39

    Jessica, I agree that she is brave. Some are trying to justify some criticism, but it's not really sticking. I like that she gives her name as Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, because that title was given to her by the Queen. She and Harry will be RF members for the rest of their lives, but some people need to see "Duchess" to believe that. I of course have not read the book yet but I hope the sentiment applies to girls, too. It feels like she emphasizes "kin" more than "boy." I read that is has gone to the top of the list of preorders; it's relatively inexpensive on Amazon ($16), and I hope a lot of people buy it. I did.

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  20. Good for Meghan! I will order a copy. Your continued coverage of all that the Sussex family is doing is so much appreciated, Charlotte.

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  21. It looks to be a lovely book. Any word on which charity the proceeds will be donated to?

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    1. Nope, none so far. It doesn't seem to be a charitable project after all

      Mz

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    2. They are not working royals; although they spend so much time and energy for the good of others, they are entitled to be paid for work like Harry's cousins are paid.

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  22. I'll definitely be buying this for my child. I'm pregnant with my very first child who will be a 1/2 white, 1/4 black and 1/4 asian baby boy and is due in three months and now that I'm starting to buy things for him I've been noticing there really isn't that much diversity in children's books so I'm very excited about this project and honestly hope there's more books to come. Talking about multiracial baby boys, wishing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's son Archie a very happy birthday! And also wishing my fellow pregnant lady Meghan a very safe and healthy labor and delivery.

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Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)