Strickland, Tessa

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Strickland, Tessa


Born in England; children: Francis, Rollo, Zoë. Education: Graduated from college. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening.


Home—Cotswolds, England. Office—Barefoot Books, 124 Walcot St., Bath BA1 5B6, England.


Author and publisher. Teacher of English in Japan; Penguin Books, London, England, copywriter, then managing editor of Viking imprint for seven years; Random House UK, London, editorial director of Rider imprint for three years; Barefoot Books, Bath, England, co-founder, with Nancy Traversy, 1993.

Awards, Honors

New Venture Award honorable mention (with Nancy Traversy), Women in Publishing, 1996.


With Elizabeth Buchan) Ice Dancer, illustrated by Tim Sell, Puffin (Harmondsworth, England), 1987.

(With Carolyn Warrender) Carolyn Warrender's Book of Stenciling, Harmony (New York, NY), 1988.

(Compiler) One Earth, One Spirit: A Child's Book of Prayers from Many Faiths and Cultures, Sierra Club Books (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

(Compiler) Please, Mr Crocodile!: Poems about Animals, illustrated by Rosslyn Moran, Barefoot Books (Bath, England), 1998.


Tessa Strickland is the co-founder and publisher of Barefoot Books, an independent British-based publisher that specializes in illustrated children's story books. Releasing thirty new books each year in both England and the United States—Barefoot Books US is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts—the publisher is known for producing stories drawn from many cultures as well as for a willingness to work with new writers and illustrators. In addition to her role as publisher of Barefoot Books, Strickland has also compiled several books based on her long-held interest, including One Earth, One Spirit: A Child's Book of Prayers from Many Faiths and Cultures and Please Mr Crocodile! Poems about Animals.

The second youngest in a family of five children, Strickland grew up in Yorkshire, England, where she gained an early love of animals due to the dogs, cats, cows, hens, and ponies she encountered near her rural home. Although her family rarely traveled, she gained an expansive view of the world through her New Zealandborn mother's relatives. who wrote and visited frequently. Ultimately, a meeting with design director Nancy Traversy when both women were busy raising young children proved to be fortuitous for Strickland; joining talents in a business, the two based their young company in their homes for several years, until Barefoot Books grew large enough to demand space of its own. Moving first to London, the Barefoot Books offices have since relocated to Bath, England, allowing Strickland a shorter commute from home to work. In addition to book publishing, Strickland and Traversy have also begun more heavily promoting the work of their stable of talented illustrators by marketing note cards, gift wrap, and other design items. Many of their picture books are also available in CD-ROM format.

The respect Strickland has for cultural differences has shaped the direction of Barefoot Books; it also inspired her book One Earth, One Spirit. Praised as a "handsome, dignified" volume by Booklist reviewer Julie Corsaro, One Earth, One Spirit contains seventeen prayers drawn from the world's religions (Islam is excepted due to proscriptions against visual images) and paired with photographic illustrations. Buddhism, Taoism, Sikhism, Hindi, Judaism, and Christianity are among the faiths represented, and Strickland includes what Corsaro described as "intelligent, sensitive, and detailed notes" that include background information regarding each faith's history and culture. In Publishers Weekly a reviewer noted that the prayers in Strickland's collection reflect "universal feelings of love, responsibility, steadfastness and comfort."

Regarding the changing market for children's books, Strickland discussed her perspective with an interviewer for "New and original ways of writing and illustrating children's books are emerging all the time and it is fun working with writers, artists and designers to come up with new ideas while keeping the needs of the child firmly at the centre of the agenda."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 1, 1997, Julie Corsaro, review of One Earth, One Spirit: A Child's Book of Prayers from Many Faiths and Cultures, p. 477; October 1, 2000, Stephanie Zvirin, review of One Earth, One Spirit, p. 361.

Publishers Weekly, October 27, 1997, review of One Earth, One Spirit, p. 71; February 26, 2001, Judith Rosen, "Barefoot Books on the Move," p. 34.

Working Mother, July-August, 2004, Jennifer Gill, "Self-Starter: Making a Life in Books," p. 32.


Barefoot Books Web site, (September 23, 2006), "Tessa Strickland.", (September 23, 2006), interview with Strickland.