16 Feb 2021
Lockdown. Possibly not the best time to launch a new venture. But hey, life would be no fun without a bit of a challenge. They also said don't work with family, children or animals. Looks like I didn't listen to that either.
We are currently working on a website to display our venture in all its glory, but until then, here's a press release about what we've been up to.
Read on to find out more about our new series of 'Howard and Emily' storybooks and how two cousins joined forces to promote the magic of books, friendship and being the best you can be...
PRESS RELEASE: HOWARD HELPS HOSPICE and HUG A MUG
Two new children’s storybooks, written by a West Cumbrian author, are now on sale and will raise money for two local charities.
Howard’s Hugs and Howard’s Holiday, written by Rachel Suddart, are based on her daughter Emily, and her lifelong fluffy companion – a much-loved toy dog, called Howard.
50p from every copy of Howard’s Hugs sold will be donated to HUG A MUG, a well-being signposting service in Maryport. 50p from every copy of Howard’s Holiday sold will be donated to Hospice at Home West Cumbria to help fund vital services in the community.
Rachel, director of Words by Rachel (an independent marketing & communications consultancy based in Great Clifton) has previously written for Lonely Planet Travel Guide, The Observer, TNT magazine, The Journal and other local, regional and national titles but the ‘Howard and Emily’ books are her first foray into fiction.
There are two books so far in the ‘Howard and Emily’ series, Howard’s Hugs and Howard’s Holiday – each one with a simple message about friendship.
The stories are brought to life through a collection of charming and original illustrations, imagined by her cousin, Joanne Young, a part-time illustrator currently living in Newcastle.
The project came to fruition during lockdown when Joanne, a retail manager, was first furloughed and then made redundant.
Rachel says, “We worked on the first story Howard’s Hugs a few years ago and enjoyed some success with it, but with both of us working full time, and a small child in the mix, neither of us had the time to fully commit. People kept asking me if I’d written any more books and I always had some reason why I’d not done it. And then Covid happened – and we thought, ‘Why not?’”
“With Joanne living in Newcastle, we had to do all the planning by Zoom. But it was a great excuse to keep in touch and check up on each other, and a fantastic creative project to focus on throughout all the uncertainty. We’ve revised Howard’s Hugs, changing the format and updating some of the illustrations, and introduced a new story too – Howard’s Holiday.”
The two book collection is perfect to be read and shared with under 7s but is also great for emerging independent readers. It has already had a great response from children and families in the area and interest from local primary schools. The themes are particularly relevant in these challenging times – hugs and holidays are two of the things that people have missed the most!
And what does the main character think? Emily, now 11 and a Y7 student at Keswick School, loves being the star of her own books. “I love writing stories myself and it has been lots of fun working with my mum and Joanne, making suggestions and seeing how it all unfolds. I’ve also loved being part of the production side of things and have been learning lots about the practical bits of running a project, which has come in handy at secondary school. Everyone in our family is crazy about reading and it’s amazing to see yourself in print in an actual story.”
Keen to support small independent businesses, the books have been designed and printed by local suppliers, LL Creative Design and Border Offset Printers.
Rachel says, “It has been a tough time for everyone this year and we just wanted to do something positive. Charities everywhere have been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak and there are many West Cumbrian families who are struggling with all sorts of challenges. The Howard and Emily stories have such sweet uplifting messages and bright visuals and we wanted to use them to bring people a little bit of sunshine to their life, as well as raise funds for these vital services. If the pandemic this year, has taught us anything, it’s to look at what really matters. Sharing a book with a child, spending time connecting with family, doing something kind for our neighbours, doing something creative – the books just sort of bring all that together.”
There’s also a happy ending in the story for Joanne who has started a new job in retail management with a different firm in Newcastle.
She says, “Being furloughed and then made redundant during lockdown was worrying and left me stuck at home feeling a little lost. Having the books to work on and having zoom meetings with Rachel was so much fun! My interview for my new job was really nerve wracking - it's been 11 years since my last one. I had lots of experience in retail to offer, but this project gave me something really exciting to talk about. I'm glad to say it paid off!”
Books are currently on sale at £5 at www.howardandemily.com
An online store is currently being developed and will be launched soon. Books will also be available in retail outlets once lockdown restrictions have eased.
More titles will be added to the series in 2021.
FREE educational resources are also available on the website or by contacting [email protected]
Pop over to Facebook @howardandemily for activities, news, tips, recipes and lots of book loving fun.
For more information please contact Rachel Suddart on [email protected] or 07715487774.
Notes to editors:
Rachel lives in West Cumbria with a cricket-loving coffee connoisseur, a future politician, star of the show Emily and the infamous Howard. She runs her very own word emporium and loves cowboy boots, kitchen dancing and caramel wafers.
Joanne lives in Newcastle with a gluten-free gamer. She makes, bakes and eats all the cakes. She loves drawing, dancing and exploring the Dales - usually in Dr Martens.
Emily can usually be found with her nose in a book. She loves having adventures with Howard, being a bit of a drama queen and hanging out with her black cat, Tom. Don’t steal her Jaffa cakes. She’ll not thank you for it.
Howard is a globe-trotting super-hero by day. A nap-taking champion by night. Needs a bit of a wash.