This month’s Big Idea Blog post showcases an incredibly inspiring mother and son duo with a beautiful mission. The inspiring Natalie Newman, from the UK, shares with us how her and her son Henry found themselves embracing environmental activism.
Inspiring young minds about shark conservation, water pollution, recycling and looking after our beautiful planet, their book, Lark The Shark, is a children’s story about a friendly shark who helps cleans up all the litter from the sea. With coverage in media giants like The Daily Mail and London Live News, this pair are inspiring as ever and I’m honored to share their story.
Can you please share how this all began?
Natalie: Hello Emily!
Of course! Our story began when Henry came home with homework about what pollution meant to him. I said to him, lets write about water pollution and was shocked to discover that he knew nothing about it!!
It’s all very current now but in 2019, it was not being taught in schools. So we googled it and Henry was so shocked to see all the plastic and rubbish in the sea.
He said “mummy what can we do to help?”
I always knew that I wanted to write a children’s book, so it just clicked that we should write a story about it. Henry and I wrote all our ideas down on paper.
We are shark admirers in our house and wanted to change the negative stigma that is associated with sharks, so it made sense to have our main character be a great white shark. That’s when we came up with a friendly shark who would clean up all the litter from the sea. Before we knew in it Lark was born and his journey had begun.
I love that! I vaguely recall as a child (and adult) whenever asking my parents what can be done to make things better, they always said “nothing, that’s the way the world is and we can’t change it.” I believe it’s probably why I’m so passionate about helping people believe otherwise!
It shouldn’t be taken for granted that you encouraged Henry’s desire to help change things! I think you’re incredible!
So, back to the story – what happened next?
Thank you! Well, I knew nothing about publishing a book!! So I googled children’s book publishers and Austin Macauley was the first one that came up. I sent in our story and then we went on holiday. We were lucky to come home to a contract in the post. It was fate!!
Wow! As far as I’m aware, it’s incredibly rare to get published in your first attempt and without representation by an agent! Congratulations!!
That really does sound like it was meant to be!
And due to lock down all communications regarding our book was done online. But after a lot of back and forth, nine months later, our final proof was in our hands.
I was so over come with emotion I cried happy tears. It was such a great moment to see something come together, from an idea to a glossy book.
It was a moment we will never forget.
I can imagine! Now, you said you knew nothing about publishing, so what do you do?
I am actually a hairdresser by trade, but have always loved literacy and Henry is the same.
Well, how does it feel to be a hairdresser AND an author?
Working with Henry was such a lovely bonding experience that we have actually written four more stories about Lark. Our next book in the series is currently in production and we are hoping in will be out later this year.
You said Henry was interested in writing too, I’m not sure he realized he’d join the environmental activism scene so young – is that what he wants to do when he grows up?
Henry says he already is an author!! Lol, but now he would like to be a footballer or a dentist.
As you mentioned the mission here is to raise awareness about water pollution and sharks, but is that still your mission? Has it evolved at all?
Our mission is to inspire children about literacy, water pollution, recycling and looking after our planet.
I am also extremely passionate about children reading. I have been visiting schools and reading our book in interactive book reading sessions. After my reading I open the floor up to questions from the children and the children really enjoy my author visit. For the schools that I can’t get to around the world, I read to them remotely.
That’s amazing. I have to ask, what’s the most frequently asked question?
How does a shark pick up the litter from the sea? Lol!
That’s a very good question! How does he?
You’ll have to read the book to find out….
I will! Now I’m not sure if you realize this, but not everyone has the confidence to take on environmental activism. But you just wrote a story to help make a difference and then submitted to a publisher… You have guts! What helped you believe in yourself?
When I read it to Henry’s brother, Leo, who was three at the time, he asked for me to read it to him over and over again!! That’s how I knew we were on to something special.
That’s probably the best indication of a good story! Children are the most honest critics of all!
So, as I ask all my Big Idea interviewees – what’s your message to anyone reading this?
My message to anyone reading this is that anything in possible. It you have an idea go for it!! You are your biggest critic, let go and don’t hold back.
So many of us hold ourselves back, believing that we aren’t good enough or that things like publication, or activism, are beyond us in some way. I truly believe that your story here is proof that if you’re passionate about something and want to do good in the process, you can succeed. Imagine what the world would look like if we all believed in ourselves and pursued our passions and ideas, especially to make a difference?!
So, on that note, Natalie, what’s your vision for the world in 2050?
I’m hoping by 2050 humans will change and be kinder to our planet. Because if humans do not change, our world will not change. I also hope that sharks will thrive and not become extinct. They are so incredibly important to a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
Yessss!! Another amen to that too! I’m right there with you Natalie!! My work specifically focuses on self-development as a means to further social development; so that people can truly create change.
Amazing, thank you very, very much for your time and for sharing your beautiful story with us! Keep doing what you’re doing, helping shape young little minds to create the much needed change in the world!
And please tell Henry a big thank you to him too!
To conclude, I have included a summary of a few of the key takeaways:
#1: If you think you have a good idea – just go for it!
#2: It is possible to change the world.
#3: Don’t underestimate the power of combining your passion with purpose.
I hope this has inspired some ideas and instilled the value of self-belief for you. Perhaps it has planted a seed and perhaps it’s exactly what you needed to hear to nudge you into inspired action! Who knows – perhaps you will be the next activist to take on a mission and make a difference!
Please let us know in the comments below, what your biggest takeaway was!
If you enjoyed this article feel free to share it and you may also subscribe below to receive the next one straight to your inbox. I’ll be interviewing inspiring, purpose-driven changemakers and entrepreneurs once a month, to show how real people CAN make real impact, and how believing in your big idea, can truly make a difference in the world. You can find last month’s article here.
If there are any teachers reading this, Natalie is currently doing interactive book reading sessions to schools and nurseries. This is a wonderful chance to meet an author.
You can access a live book reading here.
Lark the Shark has been featured in:
- Marine Conservation Society Education Hub.
- Daily mail newspaper recommended most fun summer reads for kids feature.
- Featured on Vanessa Feltz BBC breakfast radio show.
- Featured on London Live News.
- Featured in The Shark Trust Magazine as recommended children’s book.
- Featured in Sharks4Kids magazine in Florida as recommended book about sharks.
- Featured in ZaftyG magazine in USA.
- Featured on GenX radio Suffolk radio show.
- Featured on Time radio for Earth day.
To purchase the book:
(Also available at Austin Macauley, Waterstones, gardeners and WHSmith.)
To view the book trailer:
I wish you a wonderful month and would love to get to know you and hear what you’re up to! So feel free to find me on my socials (below). If you’d like to learn more about me and my work then click here.
Hi, I’m Emily, founder of The Big Idea Consulting Company (and Blog). I believe we learn by example, so I’m searching for examples to learn from. I’m searching for people who can show us that if we believe in ourselves, our big ideas can genuinely make a difference. If you want to be interviewed or nominate someone for interviewing, feel free to DM me!