Lollipop Power Press

“The idea was to make inexpensive, but really good quality, books.”~Lorna Chafe

Click the play button to hear Lorna Chafe talk about the Lollipop Power Press: [audio:|titles=lorna chafe lollipop power]

Here, Lorna recalls how she got involved with the collective: [audio:|titles=INTERVIEW WITH LORNA CHAFE LOLLIPOP_0]

The Lollipop Power Press was a non-sexist and non-racist children’s book publishing collective based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina founded by Group 22.  Group 22 of the Chapel Hill Women’s Liberation Movement was a cr group made up of women who had children or were about to have children.  They came together around the issue of child rearing, specifically early childhood socialization.  This interest led them to found Lollipop Power.  “The idea was to make inexpensive but really good quality books,” says Lorna Chafe, a former member of Lollipop Power.  A feminist press concerned with issues of class, the collective wanted to make their books accessible to everyone.  With this in mind, they sold all of the books for just $1.  Lorna joined the press after it had been around for about a year.  She recalls that they had just printed their first book: Martin’s Father.  Published in 1971, the book was about a Black single father who was nurturing to his son–he cooks, tucks him into bed, and take him to daycare.  To print Martin’s Father, the women took the manuscript to New York City where they borrowed someone’s mimeograph machine after hours.

During the time that the collective operated, women met weekly in each others’ homes.  At these meetings women gathered to discuss and swap the scripts they had read over the week prior.  For the first several years, the collective was made up strictly of volunteers.  During this time, they selected three to five stories a year to publish, out of the hundreds that were submitted (they received 20-30 each week).  After their fifth or sixth year, the women all chipped in to buy a printing press.  Eventually, the books made enough money that they could pay the rent for an office space.  A little while later, they had enough money to be able to hire a staff person.  Their yearly output increased overtime, as well.  Lorna predicts that Lollipop Power Press published between 30 and 50 books in total.

A true feminist collective, Lollipop Power reached women all over the country.  Women from all over the country sent in scripts to Lollipop Power. Once they found one worth publishing, the next step was to find someone to illustrate the book. Also congruent with feminist principles, the press did not have a hierarchy of officers. Just as there were supposed to be no leaders in the women’s movement, the women of Lollipop Power maintained that everyone should take a part in the responsibilities. In this way, all of the women involved who were based in Chapel Hill read scripts and had the opportunity to edit, critique, and have their voices heard about the manuscripts. Those who wanted could also submit scripts as authors and/or illustrate the books (Lorna never did either). However, as in many other feminist case studies, there were some women whose opinions were more valued than others. Even so, Lorna describes the Lollipop Power Press as organized and productive.

“In simple picture-book stories, we scrambled sex roles–females heroines, moms who study, fathers who nurture–and conveyed a broad sense that girls (and boys) could do anything they choose.  Jenny’s Secret Place, which I wrote, featured a 5-year-old girl who used her mother’s study desk as a secret place to dream about freedom, whose father baked her birthday cake, and who shared her secret with her little brother once she fulfilled her dream of learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle.  Did You Ever showed, in rhymed couplets, that whether you were a girl or boy “you can do everything.”  Martin’s Father described a single-parent family: a boy whose dad cooks, tucks him into bed, and takes him to day care.” ~Sara Evans, Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century’s End, 12-13

A slide show of various Lollipop Power book covers and some inside pages!

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