Local author Emmanuelle Smith’s new children’s book is a love letter to Brockwell Park and a must-read for local pre-schoolers. Ruth Waters went for a walk in the park with Emmanuelle to find out more.
Park Life is a collaboration between journalist and mum of two, Emmanuelle Smith, and Peckham-based illustrator, Cally Lathey. The book tells the story of a day in the life of one of Brixton’s most-loved spaces and counts Blur, John Donne and Dylan Thomas amongst its cultural references.
Talking about how her enjoyment of Brockwell Park became Park Life, Emmanuelle describes how she’s there with her children almost every day. “I live in a flat, and although we’ve got a small garden, we’d always rather come to the park. You see people you know, it’s more sociable. there’s a real community here.”
With children, Rosa and Noam, aged five and three, Emmanuelle knows all the highlights of the park from both an adult and a child’s perspective. “My children love the playground, the secret [walled] garden and feeding the ducks”, whereas she loves the Lido and having space to think.
With the Council considering cutting budgets for parks, it’s an important moment to teach Brixton’s children to treasure our outdoor spaces and all that they offer.“It would be such a shame if the park fell into disrepair; even small things like bins overflowing or swings being broken make a big difference to your visit. The park is such a valuable resource for all sorts of people and the better it’s kept the more people will treasure it.”
When I ask Emmanuelle how her children feel about mum being a published author, she laughs – “they’re kind of nonplussed!” Whilst Rosa and Noam may not grasp their mum’s new venture, they absolutely love the illustrations: “the illustrations are what make the book. My children love all the details and finding different things in each of the pictures.”
Park Life is available to buy online and is the perfect read for young fans of Brockwell Park.