Thursday, 10 June 2021

Inspired by Harry & Archie, 2,000 Copies of The Bench to Be Donated

As Harry, Meghan and Archie enjoy their first week with baby Lili, the Duchess of Sussex's eagerly anticipated children's book The Bench was officially released yesterday. To coincide with the release, which captures the "special relationship between father and son through a mother's eyes", there was an exciting announcement from Archewell today. With the support of the book's publisher, 2,000 copies of the book will be given to schools, libraries, non-profits and community centres.

Archewell revealed the following:

'After more than a year of unprecedented challenges for schoolkids and families everywhere, The Duchess believes the path ahead must include a focus on well-being—and nourishing our communities through food, education, and emotional and mental health support. 

At Archewell, that is often centered on food and essential needs (as evidenced by our partnership with organizations like World Central Kitchen) but also nourishment through learning and connection (as seen in The Duchess’s support of last year’s Save With Stories initiative to raise funds for educational resources like books, toys, and worksheets).'

Organisations receiving free copies include Assistance League® of Los Angeles which has served the local community for over a century. Harry and Meghan visited the organisation's pre-school learning centre twice last year. One of the couple's visits coincided with the 23rd anniversary of Diana's passing and to mark the occasion they planted Diana's favourite flowers, forget-me-nots, with the children.

Archewell is working closely with First Book, a non-profit providing equal access to quality education for children for almost thirty years. They have distributed over 200 million books and education resources to programmes and schools across the United States and Canada. I was interested to learn about the organisation's 'Stories for All Project', which increases diversity and promotes inclusion.

It was a treat to see an interview with The Bench's incredibly talented illustrator Christian Robinson feature on Archewell. Meghan has said, "Representation was particularly important to me. And Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens."

On approaching the project within the theme of inclusivity, Christian said:

'Pictures matter. Pictures are tools designed to communicate. It’s important for me to create images that empower as many young people as possible. Seeing yourself on a page, seeing an experience that reflects your own, where you can point out, “Hey, that looks like my dad, that looks like me,” that is sending the message that you matter, that your story matters. 

Another thing that excited me about working on this book with Meghan is that from the get-go, we had a shared vision of making this book as inclusive as possible. What’s really cool is that this story is specific to the author, in terms of her observing the bond between her husband and son. But it’s also so universal. It’s neat that with specificity comes universality. Basically, in telling your story as truthfully and authentically as possible, you end up telling all of our story, one in which everyone can see some part of themselves.'

On the book's focus on a father-son relationship, Christian spoke about the importance of his relationship with a caregiver - his grandmother. "I didn’t grow up with a father figure. My grandmother was my caregiver, and took care of me, my brother, two cousins, and an aunt in a small one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. My nana has always been a foundation for our entire family. Her strength and resilience inspire me, and she taught me that it’s not what you have, it’s what you make with what you have."

The book is filled with beautiful illustrations and words. Of course, Meghan dedicated the book to Harry and Archie. "For the man and the boy who make my heart go pump-pump." There's a particularly touching illustration of Harry and Archie feeding chickens on the bench with Meghan holding Lili in the background.


I have no doubt Meghan will be reading The Bench to her daughter about her father and brother. The Bench is available at Amazon in hardcover, Kindle edition and an audiobook read by the Duchess.


And before signing off, there's exciting news from Prince Harry about the Invictus Games 2023 :)

26 comments:

  1. Just like H&M to give us a treat while they have family leave! :) I particularly love how the illustrator paints animals -- the squirrels are adorable, and Guy is charming! He gives a personality to everything. I'm constantly amazed at how many people and organizations these two have contacted while trying to find a place to live and have a second baby. I know this time off will be soothing for them.

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  2. Thank you Charlotte. Good news.

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  3. I enjoy children’s books and love reading to children. This book looks delightful.

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  4. I love the photo of Christian and his friend. His watercolors are amazing. How very true and inspiring is his Nana's life lesson that "its not what you have, its what you make with what you have." A lesson for all of us. Big congrats to Harry on the confirmation of Invictus 2023. I'm sure the continuance of the games is a major priority for him and all the fabulous competitors.

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  5. Just a thought, I do believe The Bench would be a wonderful gift for Fathers Day for not only Dads and Grandfathers but for any special gentlemen who has had a place in a child's life. We often rack our minds coming up with something special when in fact it can be the simple gifts that hold the best memories. I personally have several books that my children have given me from time to time with personal notes inscribed inside. One will catch my eye sitting on a bookshelf or coffee table and picking it up and reading the personal message inside as it relates to the book always brings a smile to my heart.

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    1. USA Granny -- what a great idea!

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  6. I love the artwork. Cookbook, children’s book….I see a literary theme here. There are so many positives going forward, including a restart of the Invictus Games.

    I hope the Sussexes are enjoying their newborn with young Archie.

    I don’t know how they do it. I would have a very hard time dealing with the situation they are in, where the birth of a healthy baby should be a joyous occasion and yet complete strangers have sought to destroy the happy beginning of a newborn’s life. I can’t imagine why any family member would tolerate such treatment of a niece, a grandchild, a great grandchild if they truly care about the newborn.

    The baby isn’t even a week old and we have hostile British media stirring up hatred belittling this baby. These people have no qualms inciting hostility toward her very existence. The comments are vile and pointed. At my lunch break, a friend read out loud to us some of the most highly liked comments in one of the tabloids and we shook our heads. The table next to us overheard and were surprised how thin skinned these journalists and their readers are. How meanness and cruelty have found a solid place online. How much these readers trust in hearsay and lies. It’s no wonder people believe there are chip in a covid vaccine and the pandemic is a hoax.

    We mused and wondered why Palace staff was given the green light to join the press to participate in this hate fest toward a newborn? It’s as if they want to sever all ties with Harry’s children, wiping the children’s presence or legitimacy from this world. No one from the royal family stepped up to comment except to say they are sad about the situation. Juxtapose what baby Lili has gone through in her first week of life, their congratulatory words have become more hollow with every utterance. Unsurprisingly a statue of slave trader get better treatment by this lot.

    -Digital fingerprint lasts forever. History will not be kind here.




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    1. Anon 20:16 You said it well. I wonder how hateful the "palace" will be when the Queen is gone? I guess they really are afraid of the press -- and would like Meghan to just disappear completely. I am, however, glad that H&M are able to tell the truth finally.

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    2. With all due respect, those who read the tabloids, negative comments, and respond to the media are just feeding into their madness which is exactly what they want. Nothing the Royal Family says or does in response to the media and/or the haters is going to make a difference - it will just spur them on, like fuel on a fire. The haters will have more to hate about and the media will continue their lies, just as they have for decades. Yes, a few lawsuits against the media have been successful, but how is it possible to respond to every negative thing said? Really, the solution is not that difficult. Stop reading it! And, regarding the relationship between the Palace and the media and whether they do or do not want the Duchess to “...disappear completely” is all hearsay. Unless anyone here has actually sat in on meetings with Her Majesty or any other member of the Royal Family, the Royal press offices, meetings with the media, or with Prince Harry and the Duchess, there is no proof of what the truth really is.

      So instead, let’s focus on the positive things the Royal Family, including Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, bring to this world and how fun it is to read Charlotte’s blog about their fashion choices, royal events, and all the extra history Charlotte provides us, along with hearing what the other royal followers in our group think about them.

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    3. The Royal Family does respond publicly on matters both trivial and important. That’s why the Palace has large communication offices with professional staff.

      This is about the relationship between the Firm and the media and more importantly, the public and individual costs in keeping the monarchy in good standing with the public. This relationship is toxic. We have a saying in our profession about “eating our young” and what we are seeing is just that with present and future generations of the BRF. Good looks and high fashion can not hide such dysfunction.

      The proofs are there in the clickbait headlines, in the Firm’s choice to respond or stay mum, and in the double standards on display.

      If respect is due, let the press and the monarchy weigh in on compassion, fair play, calling out injustices, and ending lies and mistreatment of people. That’s a far better legacy than photographing well coiffed hair and fancy gowns while the country is looking at more budget cuts and the people stuck with long wait time to access healthcare and rising costs for basic living.

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  7. I continue to be amazed and not in a good way -- a poster on the previous blog had an excellent comment: why is it anyone's business whether the Queen approved the baby's name? I 100% believe she did, but it is not my business, nor that of any person in the world save H&M and the Queen. I suppose other family members might gossip about it, like families do, but that's it. Even if she hadn't approved -- not my business!

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    1. Not my business, either! Why, in heaven's name, would anyone take it personally what Harry and Meghan name their daughter? Btw, I love the name!

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  8. Fascinating background about The Bench. I love the portrait of the illustrator, Christian, and this: "Basically, in telling your story as truthfully and authentically as possible, you end up telling all of our story, one in which everyone can see some part of themselves." Beth.

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  9. Just had a random thought. I would love to see both families at the unveiling in July. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a short speech from Harry that said - our mother was the best. We loved her and we miss her every day. I don’t think I need to repeat the negative impact it has had on our lives but the positive is she taught us the importance of giving back and helping those that do not have a voice. Please enjoy this statue as a testament of our every lasting love and admiration for her and the good that she achieved in her life. Followed by a speech from William with something like ‘our mother died young as a result of press intrusion. If you loved her, like we did, then please consider the harm that is now apparent from her early death. I ask you to please respect the need for safety and privacy of my family, my wife, my children and that of my brother , his wife and his children. As my brother has said previously, we are on different paths but each of us and out families has a dedication to public service and we ask that you allow us to live our lives of public service without the genuine fear that our mother lived with every day.

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  10. Hi Charlotte and fellow blog readers. I thought you might be interested in this article:

    https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2021/06/10518195/megxit-meghan-markle-anti-fandom

    It’s a good piece that delves into the toxicity of social media, extreme fandom, racism, media exploitation and the failure to reign in abuse by institutions and effective corporate safeguards, too many people suffer. It’s a toxic ecosystem.

    The journalist, AIDA AMOAKO, researched and reached out to many people who cover the royal family. It’s a fascinating read.
    - royal media watcher

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    1. Royal media watcher, that is a really good, and upsetting, article. I am SO very tired of the groups who form just to be ugly. So tired of the endless dwelling on things in the hope of finding something real that is negative. I would be depressed if I saw such a global effort against me. The amount of bullying online and at social media sites is just amazing! People are literally wasting their lives being mean to each other. Just the other day, Prince Edward said kind words about the Sussexes, so people who write media garbage used it to claim just the opposite! It unfortunately also shows how little will get changed in the world if people spend their time battling about things they can only guess about that do not concern them at all.

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  11. Wonderful news that a certain date can be given for Invictus! What a lovely change it will be to see Harry there with his family!

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  12. Amazon says tonight that Meghan's book is #1 in Children's Black & African American Story Books, #4 in Children's Emotions Books, and #7 in Children's Family Life Books (Books). I think that's pretty great!

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    1. Awww. Thanks Allison. My niece ordered one for a friend’s baby shower along with a baby carrier. The combo should make a great gift.

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    2. Anon 23:09 That combo is a great idea!

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  13. Allison,
    Thanks for the sales data on Meghan’s book.
    Wonderful to see how well her book is selling!
    USA Granny, I love your suggestion to give this book as a Father’s Day gift to anyone who is a father, or father-adjacent!
    What gorgeous illustrations to go with a lovely story. Christian and Meghan have done a fantastic job.
    Renee

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  14. There is a wonderful illustration in the book of a father in a tutu with a child in a tutu in front of a "BenchBarre." It is the most charming and heart-warming ever imagined! I recall that during a service in memory of Diana, Harry who spoke for himself and William, said that his mother never let her love go unspoken.

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  15. Just read the book is #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers list for children's picture books; it is doing much better in the US than in the UK. I noticed some UK reviews were a little over the top in negatively for such a sweet simple book. Allison in US

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    1. Yeah, it has sold 12,000 copies apparently. I always thought being on top of a list required much more copies sold, maybe it’s a sign that people are not buying books anymore?

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  16. Meghan will have a radio interview re her book on NPR Sunday morning! I read that and then heard a little of it while driving around today.

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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 :)