Stav Yiannoukas has always done things just a little bit differently.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with his former band Bluejuice can attest to this – certifiably bonkers live gigs, absurdist video clips and explosive, off-the-wall indie dance thumpers were par for the course for one of the country’s most beloved local acts.
Following the band’s break-up in 2014 Stav has very much kept this maverick streak alive – although it’s manifesting itself in vastly different ways.
The 37-year-old father has been hard at work releasing an enhanced e-book for kids – a touching, surprisingly dark, but ultimately inspiring tale about a lost little fox called Elliot Foxley.
Where most children’s books shy away from themes of loss, displacement and failure, Elliot Foxley dives headlong into these dark spaces and teaches kids that if you look hard enough you can find the light.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Stav and have a chat about his awesome new project:
Without giving too much away can you tell us a bit about the narrative?
My nephew was born and my Dad passed away – so those events really drove the narrative of the story. I wanted to write some kind of kids book in honour of my nephew – his name is actually Elliot Foxlee.
Elliot’s a little fox who’s found by fireman and taken to a lost and found shop.
The lost and found shop owner always finds new homes for lost things so he helps him on his way, and along his journey he meets circus cats where he learns individuality, he meets a colony of builder rats led by Greek Rat President Theo Theoropolous where he learns about teamwork, and each chapter kind of builds another part of him.
He goes on a series of adventures and gets home, but home is not quite how he remembers it – he’s a bit sad and he’s just trying to find his place.
It was really my father’s passing that drove the themes of this book – home, loss, family and homecoming.
Was it a deliberate decision to tackle such heavy themes for a kids book?
This book’s about trying to raise their emotional intelligence and getting them to process “big feelings”.
It’s about dealing with loss, of any kind, and not just loss…failure as well. It’s also got big words, I don’t want to patronise them by dumbing down my language – if I had a publisher on this book they would’ve absolutely made me cut certain language out of the story.
For me, I just think it’s best not to patronise kids that way – how else are they going to learn those words or learn how to process feelings if you don’t just give it to them!
Dealing with such ‘big feelings’, is it something that adults can get stuck into as well.
I’ve done a couple of screenings for the book and it’s literally made grown people cry.
I’m extremely proud of it, and I know it’s imperfect, there are things I would change to this day but fuck it, it’s the most I could do.
Stav also wrote the tunes for the opening and closing credits, give them a listen in the player below – they are absolute rippers. If you want to get your mits on the e-book head over to their website.