Founded in 2011, Leicester-based independent publisher Sweet Cherry Publishing was also founded with inclusivity and accessibility at its heart, as reflected in the Sweet Cherry team, and their award-winning authors and books, many of which are LoveReading favourites (personal tip: check out Maggie Sparks and the Truth Dragon).

Having been hailed very worthy recipients of the Small Press Award of the Year at the 2021 British Books Awards, and Children’s Publisher of the Year at the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards, Sweet Cherry Publishing continues to break new ground, with their newly-launched Every Cherry initiative set to make more books more accessible to more readers.  

As a result, we thought it was high time we caught up with the Sweet Cherries to find out more about what drives them, along with info on Every Cherry, and what new books we can look forward to this year.

Describe Sweet Cherry Publishing in three words.
Fun, innovative and inclusive.

How and why was Sweet Cherry Publishing founded? What’s the story behind your name?
Abdul Thadha, our Founder and Managing Director, grew up in a very non-English speaking area of Leicester. Along with his friends, he missed out on having books read to him because there were no resources available to them, and Abdul wanted to ensure that no other children would fall through the cracks.

What’s the editorial ethos of Sweet Cherry Publishing?
To bring super fun and engaging reading material to our audience, representing as many realities as possible, whether it be diverse families, wellbeing topics or neurodiversity.

Could you share some of your proudest moments?
Of course, recognition for hard work is always amazing – we were incredibly proud when we won Small Press of the Year at the Nibbies (2021), and Children’s Publisher of the Year at the Independent Publishing Awards (2022). However, our proudest moment has undoubtedly been launching Every Cherry, our brand-new imprint catering to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) community. So much hard work, innovation and thought went into the development of these books, and hearing how much of a difference they’ll make for those with disabilities is amazing.

We have a feeling your new Every Cherry initiative will count among your proudest achievements. Please could you tell us what it is, how it came about, and what books you’re launching with? 
So, Every Cherry (as mentioned above) is our new imprint focused on bringing high-quality and accessible reading material to members of the SEND community. 

It was created after Emma Steel, now Head of Imprint, came to us following 17 years as a special education teacher. Emma had experienced first-hand the lack of suitable books for those with Autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, Dyslexia and so on, so she decided to change that. Being Sweet Cherry, we were – of course – up for the challenge.

The imprint comes in three ranges: Easier, Symbolised and Stories for Your Senses.

The Easier and Symbolised ranges consist of dyslexia friendly fonts, simplified stories, clear and consistent layouts, boxed-in illustrations on every spread to support the narrative, free audiobooks and sensory elements on the covers to aid concentration. The Easier range then has glossary definitions on every spread (and an online database with audio definitions), while the Symbolised range has symbols above keywords for those who need visual cues when communicating or reading, as well as signed, animated videos of the story.

The Stories for Your Senses range is our approach to sensory stories. Coming in a sturdy board book format, perfect for people with PMLD (profound and multiple learning disabilities), they utilise all FIVE senses by calling for real-life items that can be found in and around the home, or cheaply at local shops. Each book within this range also comes with a free audiobook and soundscape, fully engaging the ears of the readers.

The launch list includes everything from Frankenstein and Moby Dick, right through to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

We’ve decided to launch with adapted classics because we want readers to have the opportunity to enjoy classic literature, just like everyone else, but will be following soon after with more reading for pleasure titles (including adapted versions of Sweet Cherry originals).

Which books from the Sweet Cherry Publishing backlist should everyone read? 
If you haven’t yet read Maggie Sparks, please do take a look – they’re wonderfully mischievous stories about a young witch, her best friend Arthur and pet chameleon, Bat! 

Or, if you want a super fun middle-grade adventure novel with positive messaging, Isabelle Marinov’s Boy Underground is exactly that; it tells the story of 12-year-old Hugo, a boy with Autism who ventures into the catacombs of Paris and, after encountering robbers, treasure and monsters, becomes the hero of his own story.

Published under our Clock Tower imprint, M.J. Sullivan’s Game Over series is a fantastic option for teen readers who love sci-fi, gaming and a high-stakes storyline.

The list is endless!

Give us an elevator pitch for some of your upcoming books.
Presto!: Magical Recovery Co. 
Step inside the magical adventures of 11-year-old Amber as she discovers that not only are fairy tales real, but that her uncle is actually a thief who recovers stolen items and missing persons from the stories themselves. Together they embark on daring adventures in a mysterious world known as Evadne where wolves, witches and fairy tale characters exist. A brand-new, spell-binding fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell. 
Unicake is a unicorn with a BIG sweet tooth! But when he decides to only eat chocolate, pastries, cakes and biscuits, Unicake quickly realises that eating nothing but sugary treats isn’t as fun as he’d imagined!

Who would you invite to your dream literary party?
You might be expecting a really savvy response with our late author idols, but honestly, we’d just invite our authors and our readers! There’s nothing better than seeing the minds behind our stories engaging directly with the mini bookworms they’re writing for. Also, there’s no better way of hearing feedback! 

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To discover more from the people who bring you all those books you love, read more insights from the world of children’s publishing, and from publishers who make books for grown-ups.