Are you a grandparent looking for a fun and creative way to keep in touch with a grandchild during lockdown? Let me recommend writing a book together. My 7½ year old grandson, Rory, and I co-wrote ‘The Awesome Space Race’ last year while he was homeschooling.
Starting with a few tentative sentences from Rory in March 2020, the story developed in short paragraphs that we exchanged via emails. It was a simple method that placed no time or classroom pressure. I never knew when or where Rory’s imagination would take the storyline and, if his curveballs were sometimes bizarre, they always added to the fun!
On completing the story in late July, I wondered how to capture such a unique experience for Rory to remember. Self-publishing? “Do you mean a real book like in a library, grandma?” asked Rory in disbelief. And so, we began the next stage of our creative journey under SPP’s professional guidance and support.
While Rory concentrated on producing drawings for Andrew Prescott (illustrator), I discovered the joys of self-publishing. From editorial work on the manuscript (a grandiose word for our little story), through design to final version, our input was sought and valued by SPP. Apart from the technicalities, the process was one of mounting excitement. And then came the moment when I held a “real” book in my hands, with our names emblazoned on the front cover! That a copy can be bought from Amazon, Waterstones and our local independent book shops is an awesome bonus. I am an unashamedly proud (and yes, indulgent) grandmother.
Enthusiastic feedback on the book from family and friends continues to surprise and delight both Rory and me. Originally, my goal was to maintain regular contact with Rory and help his homeschool. But publication and promotion of ‘The Awesome Space Race’ are achieving much more. During yet another lockdown, they are nourishing a young boy’s fragile self-confidence – even leading to “can we start the sequel, grandma?”. Furthermore, we are donating book sales to Rory’s primary school in Shoreham-by-Sea.
Finally, I’ll mention one reader of ‘The Awesome Space Race’ by name – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Because the book involves a fictitious character called Queen of Earth (known as Queen E) who lives in Winners Castle. I sent a copy to Her Majesty and hoped she would respond. She did! Just before Christmas, Rory was gobsmacked (reference to the character Gobstopper) to receive an embossed letter from Buckingham Palace. From small gestures come lasting memories and experiences to be treasured!
By Jules Channer
‘The Awesome Space Race’ can be purchased here.