Bedfordshire youngsters join author to create magical lockdown storybook
The lockdown of Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways, mentally, financially and physically. Unable to find my usual freelance writing work, my own way of coping with the situation was to do good for others. Along with my little team of illustrators, we created two beautiful storybooks to help little ones cope with the changes in their world.
Living in a small village, I became aware of a little local 5 year old girl named Emily who was really struggling with her new “normal”. Her behaviour was becoming challenging as she missed her school routine, her little friends and her grandmother. The word “Covid” conjured scary images and she knew something outside could harm her. Little wonder she was stressed!
At the same time one of our residents thought it would be fun to roam the village streets dressed as a dinosaur to entertain the locked-in children. Chris Gibson’s fiancé filmed his antics as he charged around the allotments, the village green and the shop and she uploaded the videos onto our village Facebook page. These images made me laugh and I couldn’t shake off the bizarre idea of a ‘village dinosaur’ from my head. Therefore, in late April 2020 I wrote a poem for Emily, which features a little green dinosaur named ‘Covi’. The poem explains all of the good that happens in the world when people stay at home and depicts magical creatures playing outside. The idea was that whenever she heard the word ‘Covid’, instead of being afraid, she could imagine her little green friend outside having fun.
We found the poem so helpful for Emily that I then asked for volunteer illustrators via Facebook to bring the story to life. I was blessed to have submissions from two young girls who create digital images that really worked with my vision for a storybook. With the help of one mum, the photographer Amanda Powell, we collaborated via Facebook Messenger to create the two illustrated storybooks that are available to buy today in paperback and digital formats.
Meet the Volunteer Heroes
My young heroes are Kaitlyn Powell who is just 10 years old and 19 year old art student Chay Winter. The wonderful pages they designed were entirely their own creations. I sent them the text and they beautifully brought each page to life in turn. Every time my inbox pinged with a new image I felt increasingly proud and remain utterly impressed with their talents. I also asked other village children to get involved and they sent me drawings to include in the book in the form of a collage. Engaging the village in this way has been a wonderful, uplifting experience.
Within just three weeks since conception the first book was ready to launch, which now seems incredibly fast! On May 17th we sold our first copies via Amazon and have since completed and launched the second book in the series entitled ‘The adventures of Covi, the little green dinosaur’. Our two books, ‘Covi the little green dinosaur’ and ‘Covi’s Big Day Out!’ are both available to buy on Amazon in digital and paperback formats. The Audible audio narration should be live before the end of July and was a lot of fun for me to record with the help of another village volunteer, Tim Edwards of TE Pro Audio.
Two actors also offered to help and recorded video narrations of the books which are free to watch on YouTube. Chris Bearne plays “Grandad” and Hayley Marie from Wish Upon a Princess Parties reads as a fairytale princess. In addition to these freebies, we offer a downloadable colouring book and audio recording downloads via our Covi Facebook page.
As a team, we shall continue to work together as time allows (Chay is busy preparing her portfolio to help her secure a University placement). Our next project is a female empowerment one, featuring a little girl who will not be told that she can’t do or be anything she chooses! She sees the world as being one big playground and sets out on a series of adventures, breaking through barriers against the advice of those who would stereotype her. We are working on ‘The adventures of Dolly Daydream, the rainbow hunter’ for release in late summer and the first book in the series is currently on presale with Amazon.
Our Fundraising Legacy
We decided that the NHS Charities Together was a good fit for our message and so the profits raised from the book and merchandise sales go to supporting our frontline health workers via the charity. The book will serve as a legacy not just for the charity but for this generation of children to keep and learn from.
For me personally, creating these books has been my lockdown joy. Usually an active, busy and social person I have struggled with the changes and restrictions to my life. By using my energies in such a positive way, I feel that I have not only helped others but also myself.
Extract taken from ‘Covi, the little green dinosaur’
Emily sat by her bedroom window, looking down on to the street,
There were no cars or delivery vans, no neighbours chatting as they meet.
But then she spied the strangest sight! It made her blink and roar –
For there upon the village green was a little green dinosaur…!
Emily’s mummy rushed straight in the room, ‘Emily, what IS the drama?’
The little girl shouted with delight, ‘Look! Can you see him, Mama?’
Her mother looked but all she saw was their pussycat called Tilly.
‘Emily,’ she declared, ‘it is time for bed, I think you’re being silly!’
Susie Cullen is an English author and motivational speaker. She offers self-publishing coaching via her online ‘Writers Blocks’ courses for budding authors and business professionals who are looking for easy publishing solutions. You can connect with her to find out more on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and via her YouTube channel. Links to her published and forthcoming books are available on Amazon.