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The Sonar System

An illustrated book that introduces kids to the world of sound system culture

by Nara Shin
on 17 July 2015

Free of typical children's books motifs, "The Sonar System" is a new illustrated tome that introduces kids to a not-so-typical subject: sound system culture. Set in a fictitious "sonar system" where planets revolve around a "gigantic, pulsating speaker," the book zooms in an Earth-like planet where music is a central part of the everyone's lives. It comes a year after the same London-based publishing company One Love Books released "Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield's Sound Systems"—following reggae sound culture's journey from Jamaica to the UK and uncovering Huddersfield's overlooked history as sound system capital of northern England.

"I have been part of the reggae scene for more than 15 years as a singer and MC for different sound systems," Nantes-based author and illustrator Ras Mykha tells CH. "I also paint artwork inspired by Orthodox Ethiopian art and street art. My main sources of inspiration for writing and illustrating a kids book came after having my son, so when Mandeep Samra [of non-profit organization Let’s Go Yorkshire] approached me to write this book for her Sound System Culture project, I immediately accepted. For me this was an opportunity to present my art and love of music in a playful and educational way in the form of a children's book." Mykha's distinct colors and shapes results in an unconventional book for bedtime reading, hinting at the power that music beyond just personal enjoyment—but something that brings people together, peacefully. "The Sonar System" adds a culturally and ethically diverse perspective to the world of children's literature, and supports the grassroots #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Find "The Sonar System" for £10 at One Love Books online as well as select stockists. Catch the related upcoming "Sound System Culture: Birmingham" photographic exhibition at The Drum from 6 August to 7 September 2015.

Images courtesy of One Love Books

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