February 3, 2016
Ben Bailey Smith, a.k.a. Zadie Smith’s brother, pens children’s book
by Kait Howard
Ben Bailey Smith, the British rapper better known by his stage name, Doc Brown—and even better known as the brother of writer Zadie Smith—is breaking into publishing.
Children’s publishing, that is. As Robert Dex reports for the Evening Standard, Bailey Smith’s children’s picture book proposal sparked a bidding war between four different publishers before being scooped up by Walker Books Ltd in the U.K. and Candlewick in the U.S. Titled I Am Bear, the cheerfully-illustrated story about a verbally precocious bear who gets into all sorts of mischief was created in collaboration with the illustrator Sav Akyuz and is aimed at 2–5 year-olds.
But if anyone was wondering whether Bailey Smith tried to take advantage of his sister’s publishing experience, they should put those worries to rest. According to Bailey Smith, while Zadie loves the book, she didn’t go after her contacts—contacts who likely deal with a very different kind of books—on her brother’s behalf. According to Bailey Smith, there’s “no sense of competition” between the siblings.
It’s a picture book,” Bailey Smith told Dex.“If I was writing a novel I would be terrified of sending it to her and it would be awkward to say the least, I mean I’m just an upstart younger brother.”
“Could this be the start of a family literary dynasty?” Emma Cueto asked in a post on Bustle. It’s hardly likely. As rapper/singers like Danny Brown and Pharrell Williams can attest, there’s nothing strange about a pop performer making a foray into children’s lit.
Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.