This blog is written by Julie - the author of The Adventures of Angel Louise & Friends. Julie will be at the show this year! We are looking forward to her storytelling sessions!
My name is Julie, trained Librarian and children’s book author/self-publisher living here in Port Chalmers. I’ve always wanted to write children’s books so in 2012 I took the plunge and started writing stories about my Samoyed dog ‘Angel-Louise’.
We moved here from Australia and set up home to find there were a lot of other little animals living at the house: Harry the Hedgehog, Tabatha the little brown Mouse, Bertie the Albatross, Sammie the Seagull, Merlin the ginger Cat and Shelly and Cedric Snail. The stories are based around ‘Angel-Louise’ and her friends and the adventures they have together. My stories are based on old fashioned values around love, loyalty, honesty, faith, telling the truth, respect for oneself, friends, and friend’s parents. Through our stories we teach the children that friendship comes in many shapes and sizes and that it’s ok to have friends who are different to us. In Book 3, I included a character in a wheelchair. This was to teach children that disability is no barrier to friendship. I’ve published three books so far, with another two in draft form. Every second book features community members from Port Chalmers who play ‘characters’ in the book. They stay in ‘character’ when the children see them in the street. This brings such delight to the little folk and adds depth and the human element to my story lines. In book 2 ‘Merlin’s Magical Door To Nowhere’ I featured our local Policeman who came on board as a ‘character’ who saved ‘Harry’ the Hedgehog from the sheep rustlers. Policeman Steve is still mobbed by 6 year olds in the street for saving Harry. It is a privilege to have many of the Port Chalmers community wanting to play ‘characters’ in my books. Book 4 will feature our Tug Boat Captain: Captain Mike, our only female fire volunteer Firewoman: Stella, Policeman: Steve (again) Postie: Greg, as well as ‘Angel-Louise & her Friends, as they solve mysteries and have lots of adventures around the Otago Harbour.
The books start off for the really little folk (2-3) then progress upwards. My books grow up with your children. Book 2 (3-6) and Book 3 (5-8) . We also have merchandise to support the books as well as a Facebook Page and Website. We are thrilled that children all over the world are reading our stories and we thank you for including your children as well in our Adventures!
‘Angel-Louise’ and I spend a lot of time out there in our community. We believe in being accessible and visible to all children, both young and the young at heart. We do this by visiting: Primary Schools, Kindergartens, Mothers Groups We visit sick children to provide comfort and to read them one of our stories Guest appearances at Birthday Parties Markets, Special Events, Story time By appointment special visits to see ‘Angel-Louise’ in her home. We have a long standing relationship with two Aged Care Facilities in Dunedin. ‘Angel-Louise’ and I visit to keep them informed of our adventures, to do ‘story time’ and provide comfort/support to the residents. ‘Angel-Louise’ is much loved by the staff and residents of the Dementia and Special Care Units – this is where she does her best work! It’s important to me that all children get access to our books. I do this in two ways: We donate all the books in the series to every Public Library in Dunedin and surrounds. I give 50% of our book print runs to children whose parents are not able to afford a book. Literacy is critical to a child’s development and we feel that this is assisting our little ones with their learning development. We do a lot of work ‘behind the scenes’ with charities and donations. Recently we purchased a new security camera for the ‘Cat Rescue Dunedin’ for their shop in North Dunedin. This was done with profits from Book 3. Financial support so children can do special ‘school trips’. This year we are working with a local school to take all the children to the snow. Most of these little ones have never seen snow, so it will be ‘Off to the snow we go, off to the snow we go’ which will also be the title of Book 5. Whenever we see a ‘Lilliput Library’ in our travels around town, we quietly put a couple of our books in them.