Tales from the Toy Cupboard: New Friends
When little Lucy spends the first night at her grandparents' house without her own Mummy and Daddy, she feels afraid. So her Daddy gives her a new friend, a lovely bear called Patrick, who waits for Lucy in the 'creepy room' she has been sleeping in. Patrick is Lucy's special 'sleepover friend'.
But who will keep Patrick company in that dark, spooky, room when Lucy is not there? The answer to this lies in a dusty old toy cupboard in corner of the room.
Before long, everybody has some New Friends.
The story behind the story
The author, the artist, and Poodie.
January 2013. It had been a year since I had been made redundant from a job - a career - I had really enjoyed, and I was struggling, emotionally and in terms of self confidence and self belief.
Since being made redundant, I'd kept in contact with some former colleagues and one, in particular, had been very supportive through lots of email correspondence. Fiona knew all about my writing aspirations, and on 29th January 2013, she expanded on some previous discussions we'd had, all of which had been fairly light and speculative, by sending me an email which contained some photos of some cuddly toys, together with very brief biographies of them, and challenged me to write a story about them, which she would then look to illustrate.
I'd never written a children's story before. I'd had a few ideas, one about a "Fireman Sam/Bob The Builder" type, who would be a police officer, as well as having some ideas for some YA books. It was not a genre I had ever really considered; it didn't particularly 'float my boat' and I had little interest in it.
But the gauntlet had been thrown down, and because I knew my friend was trying to be supportive during a very difficult time for me, I felt obliged to accept the challenge. I looked at the photos, read the biographies and, for good measure, threw in a toy of my own, (Poodie), and came up with the toy cupboard idea. Fiona liked it, so off I went, and wrote it.
Real life got in the way for both of us, and in particular did not give her the time she wanted and needed to provide the cover, so it went onto the back burner.
Jump forward to June 2017. I was messing around with what I had intended to be my fourth full-length book (Uncle Prawn), which was long, long, overdue (again, due to real life getting in the way).
While I was giong through my notes, I came across Toy Cupboard again. I looked at it, tweaked the text a bit, and then created a basic cover idea of my own which, out of courtesy, I sent to Fiona, who told me that she still very much wanted to provide a cover.
A couple of weeks later, I had the cover, and felt that it was well worth waiting for; it's even better than I had pictured it in my mind, together with some wonderful illustrated chapter headings.
And so, my first children's story was published. I was somewhat surprised when a number of positive reviews appeared. I was also asked when the next one would be coming out.
In 2018, I wrote the text for a second book and in January 2019 Fiona and I met (our first face-to-face meeting since 2012!) and the wheels were put in motion for book two, with ideas for a few more, too.
Reviews & Feedback
Julie Shaw, Amazon.co.uk, 15 Aug 2017
Fun, fun, fun!
Lovely fun book.
Nigel Woods, Amazon.co.uk, 21 Aug 2017
Great kids story
Very good story for kids about being friends and helping each other. Plus a bit of magic thrown in for extra cuteness.
Lisa Ling, Amazon.co.uk, 55 Aug 2017
Cute story. Bought for my four-year-old, but...
Cute story. Bought for my four-year-old but he's not interested in long stories yet so Mum just has to read it herself.
SRC, Amazon.co.uk, 31 Aug 2017
This book is magical. I loved reading it. It's a tale of magic and friendship. Cannot wait for the next chapter.
Mandy Bennall, Amazon.co.uk, 23 Nov 2017
Friendship chapter book
Short chapter book about loneliness and true friends who are different from us. The chapters aren't long, so perfect for bedtime reading. I liked the book. I had thought it to be an illustrated book for younger children and good for my own grandchild. It's a keeper for when she is older.
Dargrace, Amazon.com, 18 Dec 2017