Lynne Rickards Pink Day

I first heard about the International Day of Pink ten years ago when I was busy visiting schools and book festivals dressed in a fuchsia coat to promote my latest book, Pink! The Day of Pink began with a story that hit the Canadian media in 2007, when two senior high school students, David Sheppard and Travis Price, saw a new boy at school being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. They decided to mobilise the whole school, and the next day almost everyone was wearing pink in solidarity. The boy was overwhelmed by so much support, and those bullies saw they were hugely outnumbered. David and Travis became local heroes, and grassroots support for an anti-bullying campaign began to spring up all over Canada.

Soon the idea was picked up in other countries too, and the wearing of pink has become a symbol widely recognised as a way to combat bullying and discrimination against minorities of all kinds in society. Because it has been adopted in so many different places, there are several official days for wearing pink.

In 2012, the United Nations declared May 4th to be Anti-bullying Day. In Canada, Pink Shirt Day is held on the last Wednesday in February, and the same date is anti-bullying day in Australia, New Zealand, France, Lebanon, the UK and the US. In addition, the International Day of Pink is held on the second Wednesday in April, which is today. I guess you can’t have too many days of the year to stand up against bullying!

By pure coincidence, my book (first published in 2008) was all about a young boy penguin who got teased at school for being pink. The idea for the book (a penguin who turns pink overnight) had come from my young daughter. I had the kernel of a story, but I needed to establish a problem to be solved (key to every picture book text). If this were a girl penguin, she would probably be delighted, showing off her pink feathers to all her jealous friends. A boy penguin, on the other hand, would be horrified, as “BOYS CAN”T BE PINK!” I had my story.

PINK cover UK 2019 Sm RGB

Pink! was illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain and has had several publishers over the years. This month it has hit the shelves with a brand new cover and a new shape, thanks to Wacky Bee Books.

Poor Patrick hates being pink, but the doctor can’t fix him so he has to put up with a lot of pointing, whispering and teasing from his friends. When his dad shows him a photo of beautiful pink flamingos, he decides he will try to fit in with them instead. He swims for seven days and seven nights, all the way to South Africa where everything is very different. The flamingos invite him for lunch, but he struggles to do any of the things they can do. He can’t eat what they eat, or stand on one leg to take a nap. Finally, all the flamingos fly off to the nesting ground, leaving him behind. Patrick decides to swim home again, where the water is lovely and cold and he can eat his favourite krill breakfast. His friends are delighted to have him back, and he tells the whole class about his travels to Africa. They are all very impressed! Patrick is glad to be back where he belongs, and he decides that being pink is just who he is.

I really didn’t plan to write a book about bullying or celebrating diversity. I just started with Patrick and it grew from there. Since it was first published, Pink! has been used in schools and nurseries across Scotland to teach young children about accepting others who are “different.” When the book went out of print in 2012, I had a new idea: Pink the Musical!

Today, 10 April 2019 is International Day of Pink. I’ll be getting my bright pink coat out of the closet to show solidarity and stand up to bullying of all kinds. What will you be wearing?

stop bullying

 

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