A Friendly Font

Since I was last here, Rupert’s Snowman has been published by Purple Butterfly Press. It’s doing really well judging by the 60 plus 5 star reviews on Amazon UK alone! I’m delighted!

One of the unexpected thrills is that a number of parents of dyslexic children have contacted me to tell me that Rupert’s Snowman is the first book that their children have read from cover to cover. For me, it’s made the whole business of publishing a book worthwhile.

The dyslexic friendly font, Blockhead Unplugged is quite childlike in appearance and has a little more space than other fonts between the characters to allow them to b r e a t h e . The words aren’t sat cheek by jowl and therefore don’t get jumbled up easily.

The words wrap themselves around scarves and roll down the hill with snowballs as well as being conventionally placed in sentences from left to right.

Grace Ward, the illustrator is dyslexic and chose the font to accompany her playful illustrations. It’s a great combination that’s proving popular amongst young readers.

SPELD SA in South Australia is just one centre that has featured Rupert’s Snowman and Grace Ward in a recent Facebook post. We’re thrilled to have been recognised officially by them.

Please do comment if you’d like further information but for now

g o o d b y e !


My new, old book

I’m writing this in the bay window of our seaside home for the week, leaning on my new (old) Posy Simmonds graphic novel, Gemma Bovery I bought yesterday at the second hand bookshop here in Aldeburgh. It had me at the front cover, I’m afraid the saying ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ doesn’t work for me.
It tells of Gemma, bored, pretty and disillusioned with her new life in rural France through some diaries found after her death but that’s as far as I’ve got.
I love Posy Simmonds books and wasn’t surprised to learn that she influenced one of my favourite cartoonists, Edith at Tortoise. I sat next to Posy at a lunch party once and was mortified to only find out who she was afterwards! Oh the shame! She was so modest.
What I was wondering though was whether you preferred old secondhand bookshops or new ones? Do you enjoy browsing for hours, in often cramped conditions, the disorganised shelves where vintage Rupert manuals jostle for space with Blue Peter limerick collections and Horst photography books?
Or, do you prefer the calm elegance of a new store where the books don’t fight for attention and the cookery section sits next to the gardening books adjacent to the art books.
Luckly here in Aldeburgh we don’t have to choose and we have spent most of our holiday money in both.

Empty Bookshelves

Don’t you love turning up at a holiday house and scanning the bookshelves for your holiday read? Something you might not necessarily choose in a library or book store, a new genre?
My obsession with Ghost Stories began in an Aldeburgh cottage on the seafront. On the bookshelf was a huge collection of stories by M.R James including A warning to the Curious, which I’m convinced is set in Aldeburgh disguised as Seaburgh with it’s Martello tower and shingle beach. It’s perhaps the reason it was in the cottage. I have bought I think most of the Ghost stories out there and read them religiously each December.
Summer 2020 sees all holiday houses stripped of books, games and films due to Covid so we’re forced to take our own.
I’m packing a collection of ghost stories by one of my favourite authors Kate Mosse. The Mistletoe Bride is a story which I can read and again even though I know by heart the awful tale of a wedding game of hide and seek gone wrong.
Another favourite I’ll take is The Signalman by Charles Dickens. A lonely signalman has witnessed two disasters on a railway line. They were both preceded by the appearance of a spectre at the mouth of the train tunnel shouting a warning. One dismal day a stranger calls out to the signalman using the same warning. He clambers down into the dank railway siding setting off a chain of frightening events with terrible consequences. Dickens delivers a truly chilling ending, you really need to read it!
I listened to Susan Hill discuss how to write ghost stories on Radio 4 once and it really all is about the denouement. That moment you anticipate with shoulders up near your ears, heart thumping in your chest! It’s such good fun! I could talk ghost stories all week!

Marketing a Winter book in a heatwave!

Phew! We’re in the middle of a heatwave here in the UK. It’s blisteringly hot ( for us!) and a very hostile environment for a snowman. Yet my task is to promote my Winter tale Rupert’s Snowman!

The lawn is parched, the paddling pool constantly being topped up with water as it evaporates rapidly. The children time each other on the hammock and sway away hours looking at the sunflowers and rudbeckia which are wilting in temperatures that have reached 39 this week and the cats and dog don’t know what to do with themselves. So, my task to market and promote a book about a snowman might appear to some as a bit of a challenge! However, it’s been far easier than I imagined, almost no problem! All of my working life as a knitwear designer at Tommy Hilfiger, Reiss, Julien Macdoald and Nicole Farhi I had to project into the season ahead. Twice yearly I would travel to Florence, Italy at Pitti Filati ( a huge expo showcasing the colours and yarns for the sweater collections for the year ahead) Choosing the merino wools, cashmere, angora, camel and other noble yarns in the searing heat of a Mediterranean city in Summer has given me the skills to have my feet planted in one place and my head in another! Designing chunky arran cardigans, classic polo necked sweaters, cosy ribbed crew necks, enveloping cashmere capes whilst dressed in the loosest of linen is what has come back to me time and time again during this marketing process! I’ve engaged with people across the globe who are currently enjoying winter and one reviewer in Australia who has Christmas 6 months in advance ! I think what I’m trying to say is that what at first filled me with slight dread has actually been something I’ve done for years! In fact I’m thinking about writing Emma’s Sandcastle for Rupert’s sister this Winter which will transport me to the warm sandy coves and rock pools of North Wales whilst surrounded by the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree!

Q and A with Rupert

Empathy is the ability to be aware of, understand and be sensitive to the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another and to express that understanding through a supportive response.
Studies show that around two years of age children start to show genuine empathy, understanding how others feel even when they don’t feel the same way themselves. Not only do they feel another person’s pain but they actually try to soothe it (Parents. com)

You can use reading my book, Rupert’s Snowman at story time as an opportunity to practice empathy by asking the following questions ( The Q and A follows this)

Page 29. Who is upset?

Frosty and Rupert

Page 29. Why are they upset?
Rupert doesn’t want to leave Frosty. Frosty doesn’t want to be left alone.

Page 32. What does Rupert do to soothe Frosty’s sadness?

He throws his arms around him and whispers his rescue plan.

Page 34. What does Rupert’s mummy do to soothe Rupert’s pain?

Rupert’s mummy takes his sadness seriously and helps to carefully place Frosty on the sledge.

Page 38. What makes Rupert happy?
He rebuilds Frosty in the garden at home.

Page 42. What makes Frosty happy?

His snow family.

Rupert’s Snowman is a true story, I asked Rupert s couple of questions about the events if that snowy day, he was 4 at the time.

Me: Why were you upset to leave Frosty on the hill?

Rupert: Frosty felt very special to me and I wanted to have him as a friend.

Me: Frosty was made of snow. Did he feel real to you?

Rupert: Yes, he felt as real as my school friends.

Me: Why did you ask “Who will look after Frosty?”

Rupert: I was worried about him, I thought he’d be sad without friends.

Me: What did you do to soothe Frosty’s pain?

Rupert: I brought him home with your help so he would be happy which made me happy.

Me: Why did you build a snow sister, 2 snow kittens and a snow dog?

Rupert: So Frosty would have a family to be with if I couldn’t be there.

Taking your child’s sadness seriously ( however small the problem) is the first step to bringing up an empathetic human being.

Books to help start conversations with kids

The Snowman in Rupert’s Snowman represents anybody who doesn’t want to be left out in the cold. You can use my book to start conversation about your child’s friendships especially the trickier ones. Rupert’s concern for Frosty in the story can be a great introduction to the concept of empathy, his kind act is at the heart of my simple tale. It is a gentle and friendly reminder to us all to look after each other.

If you enjoy the book you might like a little French book ‘Emilie et le petit sapin’ which is also set in a wonderful Winter scene and is about a little girl not wanting to cut down a Christmas fir which is nestled between the two larger
trees that might be it’s papa et maman. It’s clean illustrations remind me of the MIFFY series. You need a smattering of French but the cute pictures help you along the way.

Welcome!

Hi,

Welcome to my blog where I’ll be sharing the journey of my forthcoming book Rupert’s Snowman.

At the end of each year I ask my two children to make a newspaper about their year. Within the pages are all the moments we might have otherwise forgotten. In the 2008 ‘edition’ Rupert wrote the true story of when we brought the snowman back with us from our day sledging on the hill ! Assisted by his (very patient) sister he made a mini book of the story to tape into the newspaper. I’ve turned it into a soon to be launched children’s picture book along with the help of illustrator Grace Ward (published by Purple Butterfly Press) which I’m very excited to share with you!
Instagram lovers can follow @ruperts_snowman which has a whole host of images/ activities/ lesson plan ideas and snowman-related content ⛄️

I’ll be keeping the blog updated to check back soon!