Clare Edmondson is a behaviour specialist teacher who works with children who have been excluded from mainstream school. She also trains other teachers in working with pupils with behaviour that challenges. Clare has written for a variety of LGBTQ+ magazines and whilst Tariq's Shell is her first venture into children's fiction, she is sure it won't be her last.
A family affair.
I think it is safe to say that a year ago I wouldn’t have in my wildest dreams (or nightmares?!) imagined I’d be working creatively with my mum, mother-in-law and partner on a children’s book and wooden toy set. But here I am, sitting here writing a blog as a newly published children’s book author reminiscing about the last six months of working with my nearest and dearest and living to tell the tale.
The project came about after Tasha (my partner) showed me a set of wooden toys she had just finished designing (pictured). As a teacher of sixteen years, I saw wonderful potential in the toys to be great props for a picture book story. I boldly announced to Tasha I was going to write a story starring her toys, even though I’ve only ever been published in non-fiction writing and have zero experience of writing children’s fiction... Tasha just laughed off my enthusiasm as just another of my ‘great’ ideas. I don’t think she realised at that point that I was deadly serious.
I then wrote, rewrote and rewrote again the story of Tariq's Shell with much editing and proofreading support from Chris Atkins, (Tasha's cousin).
I came up with this concept: Tariq the tortoise who feels like his shell is uncomfortable so he tries on his friends outer layers. This leaves his friends in their pants and Tariq sad and unsure about which coat fits. Tariq learns at the end that his shell is just perfect the way it is.
We cover themes of speech and language difficulties (Tariq has a stammer), gender and identity and kindness and support for friends.
Once the final draft was written we asked Tasha’s Mum, Nina Falaise, to illustrate the book. Tasha’s mum is an amazing artist who has illustrated two children’s books before. She painted all of the pictures in the book by using foods to create the paints!
We then asked Ruth Edmondson, otherwise known as my mum, to design and type set the book. My technology obsessed mum (who is approaching 70 and knows far more than me about technology) has worked for magazines most of her working career and therefore asking (forcing) her to adapt her skills to designing a picture book didn’t seem like too much of a side step for her.
Involving our families in this project has made it all the more special and we hope that many people get to enjoy the book and toys in the years to come.
To purchase a book or the toy set visit www.tashaswoodshed.co.uk
What a great idea. I love this! It’s a real family affair!