A Year 3 teacher at Aspen Heights British School – Abu Dhabi, Maria Georgiou, has just brought a new character, Bibby McGee, to life for children around the world. Tackling the subjects of self-image and acceptance, Mrs Georgiou worked throughout 2020 and in two countries to write and illustrate the children’s book herself.
When asked what prompted her to write this story, she explained: “The idea for the book had been in my head for a couple years, and I had sections of it written down, but it was a long way away from being a finished product. When the pandemic hit, and lockdown followed, I decided to become more serious about getting my book finished and published.
The idea came to me in 2018, while my husband and I were traveling in South America, but the message is something I have been passionate about for a long time. We were in a tiny surf town called Pichilemu, Chile. There was an abstract painting on the wall of the rustic beach house we were staying in, and one night, the abstract image morphed into the character Bibby McGee. The bones of the story formed in my head that night, with Bibby McGee’s tag line “I’m just me – Bibby McGee”.
I started writing the book in March / April of 2020 during lockdown, while I was teaching in Thailand. I knew I wanted to both write and illustrate the book myself, so I began experimenting with different artistic styles and mediums. I taught myself how to illustrate digitally. I completed the written aspect of the book in Thailand and I then began illustrating, first by hand drawing and then by scanning and completing the illustrations digitally. During the summer of 2020, my husband and I moved to the UAE and it was here that I did the majority of the illustrations. Actually, most of them were drawn during the hotel quarantine in our first two weeks here.
I finished putting all the pieces together, formatting the book, making sure I had the illustrations and the text exactly where I wanted them by the beginning of December 2020.
This book is aimed at children aged 3-7 years, but the message is applicable to any age. Bibby McGee is having a particular impact on children that ‘stand out’. I’ve received messages from parents of these children about the positive effect that this book is having on their child.
This is my first children’s picture book, but I have a few more in the pipeline – each with a different message.
With this book, I want to encourage a conversation about self-image and acceptance. It’s a message for any child that has ever felt different- that it is wonderful to be so! It is not what is on the outside that’s important, but what’s on the inside – being kind, compassionate, caring. Beauty comes from within. I would also like this book to be thought provoking for children, to have them reflect on how they should treat others and on how their actions might make others feel.
My message to students – It doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s what’s inside that counts. Be kind. Be proud to be YOU!”
Bibby McGee is available to purchase worldwide on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.
Aspen Heights British School located in Al Bahya, Abu Dhabi, offers a high-quality British education to students in a personalised way, for children in Nursery – Year 9. Aspen Heights British School provides a high level of pastoral care and strong sense of community. Amazing learning is central to everything they do – the personalised provision ensures that children make remarkable progress and achieve standards that will amaze you.