Super Sophia Thakur on real-life superheroes in history


Aga Malik, MA Journalism graduate, University of Roehampton

On September 16th, the publication day of her new illustrated book Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength, Sophia Thakur spoke to the audience of school students about the superheroes, that exist in all of us.

Thakur started her event with a simple question: who is your favourite superhero? The responses from the audience varied from Spiderman, Iron Man, Cat Woman to Batman. The latter attracted the author’s attention: “Batman doesn’t actually have a superpower, as such. But he has a very big heart for his town, and that is enough to make him a superhero. So, in this book we turn everyone with a very interesting heart, very passionate heart, very talented heart, into a superhero.”

And so Thakur laid out her case for the 50 superheroes profiled in her book. Highlighting British icons and inspirational figures, from Luol Deng, a Sudan-born professional basketball player, whose own refugee background serves as an inspiration to all children uprooted from their homeland, to Cece Philips, a London-based artist, who at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 left her full time job to follow her creative passion. Another superhero was Princess K, a teenage dancer, who had her breakthrough moment at the age of ten, when she performed on stage with Stormzy at Glastonbury. Princess K made a special guest appearance, dancing at Thakur’s event as one member of her superhero panel.

Another, who accompanied Thakur on stage, was Denzell Dankwah, the illustrator of Superheroes. Dankwah delighted the audience of 1,000 plus students, attending in person and online, by leading a superhero draw-along class. Thakur and Dankwah then took questions from the audience, talking about their careers, passions, and creative processes, inspiring the young listeners to follow their own dreams and each develop their unique superpowers.

This is Thakur’s third book, but her first publication for children. Showcasing a diverse group of role models from various backgrounds: athletes, artists, or scientists, it clearly hit its mark. As Fiona, one of the children attending the event online said: “You are both fantastic, because this is the first time, I see a book which is full of black people.”

Sophie Thakur's Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength is available to buy from the links below: