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Abby’s ducks, and how they helped her through the pandemic

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Author Abby Stuart with her children, Dominic, 5, and Ava, 3 (Photograph supplied)

The pandemic gave Abby Stuart the chance to share her family's stories.

After she lost her job in February 2020 she had "a lot of idle time" which she used to entertain her children – Dominic, 5, and Ava, 3.

Together, they decided to put the tales of her family pets in book form. Daphne & Gerhard, the second in Ms Stuart's Magical Mount Hope series, tells the story of two wild ducks that used to follow her around Bermuda.

She dedicated it to her children and her late grandmother, Lois Morris.

"My grandmother just thought it was the funniest thing; my mother as well – both of them," Ms Stuart said.

"They just thought it was the cutest story, how these ducks became so attached to me and ended up following me all over the place."

The ducks often followed as she rode her bike from her home in Smith's to Shelly Bay Beach. Similar-looking ducks would often appear when the family was out on their boat.

"They just randomly showed up at my house one day and then just kept coming back the next day and the next day. For a while they disappeared and then they came back the following year about the same time. The more they came back the more they became attached to me.

"There were times when I would be riding to work and the ducks would be flying beside me, down to Shelly Bay. And they would sit there. And then come back, follow me home type of thing."

It was only after she lost her job at East End Asphalt that Ms Stuart thought again of how her grandmother suggested the story would make a great book.

"We are huge readers in our house and this was something that happened ten-plus years ago," she said. "I just never really put much thought into it. But I guess all the idle time I've had, it just kind of happened, it just kind of flowed. I've put so much focus into the kids, helping them out with remote learning and a lot of downtime. It was another story for them to listen to and kind of be a part of as well.

"I kind of changed the story a little bit to include the kids. The story is actually about Dominic and Ava and how the ducks follow them around."

The book is the second published under the Magical Mount Hope series. The first, Yaya's Magical Powers, was inspired by her mother, Sue DeSilva, and her love of animals.

Daphne & Gerhard (Photograph supplied)

"I actually wrote [Daphne & Gerhard] first but I felt like I had to first share the story of Yaya to set the scene. When we were growing up my mom had all kinds of different animals that she would somehow adopt; at the same time there were so many animals that just showed up out of nowhere. We have some hilarious stories about these random animals and that kind of sparked the inspiration for the series."

She had never thought of herself as a writer before, Ms Stuart said. However, since publishing the books, relatives have reminded her of stories she wrote for them when she was a child, that showed her promise.

"It took about an hour to write each book," she said. "One day I just started writing it and then I thought it would be great if I could publish it as an e-book. I just wanted to show the kids [what we could do]. I wanted them to be part of it because I've been brainstorming different entrepreneurial routes that we can take and wanted to give them a little bit of experience and expose them to that sort of thing. It just kind of went from there."

She was thrilled to discover an e-book template on canva.com that provided images and allowed her to design the pages.

"We just started playing around with that and one thing led to another. We actually finished the book.

"[Dominic and Ava] were absolutely thrilled about it. I wanted to try to make it as Bermudian as possible as well. They love the I Spy books so we tried to stick in little tree frogs here and there; little lizards [for readers to look for].

"They would get up in the morning: 'Mummy can we read the story again? Can we read it?' And here we are two weeks later and they're still asking: 'Can we read the story of the ducks again?'"

Although they have been brought to life for young readers, the real ducks have long disappeared, Ms Stuart added.

"We had new cats that came to the house and there was one cat in particular – that I have already started writing a book about – that [probably upset them]. After that they just kind of disappeared. They were too scared to come into the yard.

"But we've got so many funny memories and so many different types of animals that I thought it would be cute, especially for the kids, to kind of jot down the memories and retell them."

Daphne and Gerhard

Abby Stuart has written a book about Daphne and Gerhard, two ducks that used to follow her around.

Below is the synopsis of the children’s book on Amazon.com.

These two wild ducks in all their glory,

Have a remarkable little story!

They have travelled thousands of miles, you see,

To end up in Bermuda, here with me.

Would you believe they are friendly and sweet?

Each day, same time, they come over to eat!

How is it something so wild and so free,

Always comes back here to little old me?

Look for The Magic of Yaya and Daphne & Gerhard on Amazon.com

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Published January 31, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated February 01, 2022 at 8:00 am)

Abby’s ducks, and how they helped her through the pandemic

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