Children’s book was inspired by GIY-ing with family

A Ballincollig-based author has had her children’s book short-listed for a major UK award, writes IRENE HALPIN LONG
Children’s book was inspired by GIY-ing with family

Rachel Murphy, from Douglas, living in Ballincollig.

AN author who lives in Ballincollig is hoping for success at a children’s book awards next month.

Originally from Douglas, Rachel Murphy now lives in Ballincollig with her partner, Tom, and their three daughters. Rachel has written an action-packed children’s book called The Greedy Crocodile.

It has been short-listed for the London-based Wishing Shelf Book Awards. The winners will be announced in April.

Rachel said: “These awards are particularly special as the children’s book category is judged by primary school children in 10 UK schools based upon editing, theme,writing style, and book cover.”

The book tells the story of twins, Elodie and Adele, and their adventures with a crocodile who is obsessed with tomatoes. The greedy crocodile wants to eat all the tomatoes in the family’s greenhouse.

Rachel was inspired to write The Greedy Crocodile when she was trying to think of ways to stop her twin girls pulling unripe tomatoes off plants growing in their greenhouse. She started developing the story when she tucked the girls into bed at night and told them a story where they were the main characters alongside a tomato-picking crocodile.

She says: “I am inspired by topics that I can relate directly to in my own environment. When a story has a tangible link to something in your environment, it frees up your imagination. I wanted to create a book that held the [children’s] attention and inspired the imagination of young children while also providing some gentle learning along the way.”

Rachel has a passion for creating books for young children.

She says: “Less is more in the picture book world. I prefer books that leave space for both adults and children to engage with the story and perhaps add some extra legs of their own to it.”

Rachel spent over a year creating The Greedy Crocodile. As well as writing, developing and editing the book, she worked with illustrator Anastasia Kurtulus, whose colourful illustrations help bring the story to life.

Rachel says: “Anastasia’s illustrations are full of colour, life and drama which makes a huge impact when you are reading to and with young children.”

As well as being a writer, Rachel runs adult dance classes in Lindy Hop and Charleston with her partner, Tom. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, their dance classes have been closed since March.

Gardening and growing our own food became a therapeutic activity for many people up and down the country during lockdown. Rachel and her family were bitten by the urban gardening bug a few years ago.

Rachel Murphy's book, The Greedy Crocodile
Rachel Murphy's book, The Greedy Crocodile

Rachel says: “Whether you try to grow a single chilli plant on your bedroom windowsill or jump in and volunteer with your local community garden, the more people get dirt under their fingernails, the better. In Cork, there are many great garden and food projects to become involved in such as St Stephen’s Sustainable Food Lab, local community gardens and the wonderfully inventive Cork Rooftop Farm.”

The theme of growing your own food is highlighted in Rachel’s book.

Rachel says: “Growing your own food is such a great topic for children to learn about and I have rather sneakily wound the story around the life-cycle of the tomato plant. This unlucky crocodile gets a bad case of hay fever from the yellow flowers of the tomato plants.”

An illustrated recipe for tomato soup is at the end of the book, which is a lovely activity for children to do in the kitchen with their parents or carers and also reinforces the idea that our food goes on a long and interesting journey before it reaches our plates and bowls for us to enjoy.

Rachel was proactive in bringing The Greedy Crocodile to the public. She ran a crowdfunding campaign last year.

She says, “I ran a crowdfunding campaign for the month of October, or ‘Croctober’ as I called it via Indiegogo to help finance the first print run. Crowdfunding allowed me to receive pre-orders for the book and it allowed funders to receive exclusive perks as well.”

The project was more than 50% funded within a few days and was a huge success by the end of October.

The Greedy Crocodile is available to order and buy via Rachel’s website, www.rachelmurphyauthor.com.

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