After finding herself on furlough during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in 2020, this Your Cat features writer wanted to make the most of the sudden gift of time.
Rachel Armitage wrote her first children’s book: ‘We Don’t Live There!’, while at home during lockdown with her two children.
The idea for her debut book first came to Rachel as an idea when she was reading the children’s classic The Tiger Who Came To Tea to her son Rory just before the pandemic hit, then aged 18 months.
“I suddenly got the image of a tiger stuck upside down in a beehive in my head, and I wondered which other animals would look silly stuck in the wrong habitats,” Rachel said. “Then these other thoughts of a bee trying to swim underwater and a penguin in a pigsty came to mind, and I wondered if there was something in this that would make a funny children’s book.”
When the country went into lockdown in March 2020, Rachel was then working part-time in retail and, as shops were closed, found herself furloughed at home with her young children, Rory and Isla, then four.
Rachel explained: “During lockdown, Rory was still having an afternoon nap after lunch and Isla would want some quiet time, which would invariably mean watching a Disney film.
“As I’m sure many parents will agree, there’s only so many times you can watch Frozen and The Little Mermaid, so I thought I’d make the most of this time while Isla was engrossed in a film to write for half an hour or so a day.”
We Don’t Live There! is aimed at primary school-aged children and sees a variety of animals – a penguin, mole, tiger, whale and pig – stuck in wholly unsuitable environments, and the reader then learns a little about why each animal shouldn’t be living there, and why they’re better suited in their proper habitats.
Once her book was written and proofread by teacher friends, Rachel sent copies to various publishing houses and was delighted when publishers Austin Macauley offered her a publishing contract.
“I honestly didn’t expect to have my book published, I was just pleased that I’d written one in the first place, so to actually be offered a publishing deal was incredible,” Rachel said.