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Templar gifts readers picture book debut from Zeshan Akhter, and illustrator Åsa Gilland 

Templar Books, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK, is delighted to announce the acquisition of My Name is a Gift, a heartfelt celebration of the names we’re given, written by debut author Zeshan Akhter and illustrated by Åsa Gilland. 

Templar Books acquired world rights for two picture books by Zeshan Akhter from Alice Williams Literary, with My Name is a Gift publishing this year and another to follow in 2025. Amelia Warren, commissioning editor for picture books, acquired world illustration rights from Susan McCabe at Lilla Rogers Studio. My Name is a Gift has already secured three co-editions with more deals expected. 

The book not only celebrates the significance of our names and the traditions and cultures that can help choose them, but also highlights that trying to say names correctly, or asking if you’re unsure, goes a long way. Complete with a spread that asks children about their own name, this book is the perfect keepsake for families, libraries and classrooms to enjoy.  

Zeshan Akhter said: “Being of Pakistani heritage and growing up in Scotland, My Name is a Gift stems from a desire for names, which are the first treasure we ever receive, to be understood and respected, no matter how different they appear. I couldn’t have imagined how perfectly Åsa Gilland would illustrate this story. Åsa captured the heart and soul of the story in the most breathtaking way. My deep gratitude also goes to Amelia and the team at Templar for creating a sumptuous book that I hope will find cherished homes in the hearts of readers. I’m so excited for my first picture book to be out in the world!” 

Åsa Gilland shared: “I was so excited to get the opportunity to work on this beautiful story by Zeshan Akhter with the wonderful team at Templar. The topic is one close to my heart, and I had a lot of moments of recognition the first time I read it. I am Swedish, but I have lived in Indonesia for half of my life with my Swedish-Indonesian family. I have two sons who both have Swedish first names and Javanese middle names that carry deep significance but that they often have to spell and explain. I wanted to illustrate a family joyously celebrating their heritage and the little girl taking pride in the name her parents had chosen for her. I hope a lot of parents and children of different backgrounds can relate to and enjoy this lovely book.” 

Commissioning Editor Amelia Warren said: “I’ve so enjoyed working with Zeshan on her debut, as well as with Åsa and Templar designer, Anna Ring. Zeshan’s beautiful, lyrical text and Åsa’s phenomenal, carefully considered illustrations are a match made in heaven. Readers young and old can take something from this wonderful book. It’s been a real pleasure to watch it come to life.” 

Zeshan Akhter writes uplifting stories about challenges that children experience. Her writing also reflects her love of the natural world. Zeshan studied zoology and has worked in nature conservation for twenty-one years. She lives in Glasgow. 

Åsa Gilland is a Swedish illustrator who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her family and two cats in a little house beneath a gigantic bougainvillea tree. She works in a combination of traditional and digital media, drawing her inspiration from the mixture of cultures in the world around her. Her children’s book characters reflect the rich diversity of her own lived experience. 

My Name is a Gift by Zeshan Akhter, illustrated by Åsa Gilland is published in paperback 15th August 2024. Zeshan Akhter is available for events, interviews and features.