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Book series gives charities and young children a boost

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Teaching life morals: children’s book author Hilary Lawrence (Photograph supplied)

Hilary Lawrence believes in “doing good things”. As such, profits from her series of children’s books are going to charities rather than in her pocket and, with the help of Katherine Summerville’s illustrations, the stories “teach important life morals”.

Ms Lawrence has published three books so far – Loose Lips Sink Ships, A Leopard Never Changes its Spots and The Grass May Not Be Greener. She also has a collection of stories waiting in the wings.

It’s a project she started more than a decade ago. Having always loved writing poems she thought her rhyming tales might be a great way to entertain her three daughters who were all under the age of ten.

“I always would read them books before bed, sort of rhyming, fun picture books,” she said. “And we loved animals – they spent for ever at the Aquarium doing their camps – so I knew that it had to have a strong animal focus.”

Her daughters had strong ties with their grandparents; both sets “loved proverbs and old sayings” and Ms Lawrence used them as the starting point for her books.

The most recent, The Grass May Not Be Greener, "teaches the important life lesson that even if other people’s circumstances seem better than our own, in reality this is often not the case“.

The author was thrilled that Ms Summerville, an artist and illustrator with children around the same ages as hers, was as excited about her stories as she was.

“I’m good friends with Katherine and loved her artistic style and thought it would be really good for bringing the [stories] to life,” Ms Lawrence said.

She [illustrated] these three books over the last couple of years. I didn’t want to just launch one book at a time, I wanted a little collection, because I think it gives it a bit more depth to have more than one product.”

The grass may not be greener: author Hilary Lawrence and illustrator Katherine Summerville have collaborated on a series of books with profits going to charity (Photograph supplied)

Much to the dismay of her daughters, Sophia, Susannah and Sarah, once the books were completed, she then allowed them to sit untouched.

“I thought it'd be fun to bring those things to life with some fancy rhymes that the kids would understand [but] I hadn't done anything with them for a while [after I’d published them] and I really didn’t know exactly what to do next,” Ms Lawrence said.

“For years the kids asked me, ‘When are you going to do something with these books?’ I had all these beautiful pictures that Katherine had drawn.

“I decided over Christmas time that we’d donate all the money to charity from the book, and that really gave me the motivation. I had an offer from a publisher who wanted to take them, but if I went through the publisher there wasn't going to be much margin left for the charities.”

Loose lips sink ships: author Hilary Lawrence and illustrator Katherine Summerville have collaborated on a series of books with profits going to charity (Photograph supplied)

One hundred per cent of profits will be divided between British-based Kids Operating Room, which provides children in some of the poorest areas of the world with access to safe surgery, and The Reading Clinic which “empowers children in Bermuda with dyslexia and dyscalculia”.

“The Reading Clinic were big supporters of all my girls when they were younger. They were a huge help. Bermuda does it very well with the help that they give to children who have any learning difficulties.

“So we're supporting them and another charity which is dear to our heart which helps children have access to life-saving surgery,” Ms Lawrence said.

“I just signed contracts with a company called TutorABC who are one of the largest online learning platforms in Asia, and they wanted to use the books to help teach English to all the people that come through their learning platform.

“I wouldn’t have been able to sign contracts like that if I’d gone with a traditional publisher.”

Thrilled by the response: Hilary Lawrence and her daughter, Susannah (Photograph supplied)

Especially as she intends that the books raise funds for charities, Ms Lawrence is thrilled by the response to them.

“It’s really lovely. [The books] went online a couple of years ago and got reviews there.

“I’m only just starting to get a little bit of the marketing going, but I've got some really lovely reviews from the charities and educational establishments. And I've got a bit more time now that the girls are a bit older, to focus on just finishing up those last few books.”

Her love of poetry was all she needed to get started. Mrs Lawrence has no formal training as a writer.

“I just sat down and [started writing]. I did geology at university which had nothing at all to do with English, but it's always been a hobby, writing poems.

“Even when I was younger, my friends and I would write long poems to each other in our birthday cards. I guess kids these days may be on their phones [doing something similar].”

Hilary Lawrence’s books are available onAmazon.com, Waterstones in Britain and Barnes & Noble. Here, they can be found at Bermuda Bookstore, Brown & Co and at Rosewood Bermuda as of July 3. For more information, visitwww.childrenseducationbooks.co.uk/

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Published June 27, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 28, 2024 at 7:36 am)

Book series gives charities and young children a boost

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