The literary and artist credentials of Stroud are on the rise again as we see another talented writer celebrating the launch of her brand new book. This Saturday between 10am -12pm, Hannah Shaw, local children's author and illustrator will be signing her new picture book Bear on a Bike at Stroud Bookshop. And not only is this the chance for your children to come meet her, but it’s also a unique opportunity to watch Hannah draw on the day, as well as purchase a signed copy of the book.
Written for 0-5 year olds, Bear on a Bike is the story of a bear who likes bikes and cake and making you giggle. Bear has made Mouse a cake for his birthday but Mouse has gone off on his moped to buy things on his birthday list. What follows is a chase on lots of different modes of transport where Bear is trying desperately to catch up with mouse and keep his cake in one piece. It’s an enchanting story and, speaking to Hannah, it’s easy to see just why this illustrator has turned to writing after a long and successful career drawing fun and beautiful picture books for children. “I wrote and illustrated Bear on a Bike because I really wanted to do a younger picture book for my children. Usually I don't write with anyone in particular in mind, I create the kind of stories and animal characters that are funny and make me laugh. Luckily, they make other people laugh too!”
Of course, having children for me, for sure, and I know for so many others can be a pivotal turning point in our lives, and for Hannah and her creativity, such a stage of her life has been no exception. “Since having my own children I thought for once it would be nice to write and illustrate something special for them. Recently, I had been focusing on writing older children’s fiction (with my Stan Stinky sewer rat stories) which I enjoy working on in a different way. I felt like I needed to do something fresh and illustrative with my own text, I illustrate picture books for other authors (such as Gareth Edwards' The Disgusting Sandwich). They have been great fun to do and are successful books but are more restrictive creatively.”
And so was born, for Hannah, not just her beautiful children, but also her delightful picture book Bear on a Bike, which Scholastic Book Clubs have called ‘perfect for any child who likes bears, cakes and vehicles’, with the renowned book club saying of Hannah, ‘her funny writing and charming pictures are a real delight.’
“Bear on a Bike tells a story in simple rhyming text but the illustrations have a fun sub-plot for children to enjoy visually,” says Hannah. “I think it is a really good picture book for toddlers as well as early readers, with speech bubbles and repetitive rhyme. I hope it does win over some little people!”
And of course, always the big question on people’s lips when it comes to authors and their stories, is where the inspiration comes from, and for Hannah, illustrating for kids’ books, it couldn’t come from a better place. “The inspiration for the characters and story came one day last year, when I was drawing with my then two year old and her friend who is very keen on buses and transport. I drew them a bear sitting on top of a bus (a page that appears in the book) and I kept thinking about the bear character in /on different vehicles and the final book idea developed from there.”
So there you go – one bear, one bike and one very talented author and illustrator, all of which proves that Stroud not only is an inspiring place to live, but one that deserves it’s own book shop. And Hannah wholeheartedly agrees. “I’m excited about doing a signing in Stroud Bookshop, local bookshops are very important and we are so lucky to have so many lovely ones in Gloucestershire,” says Hannah. “It's vital we try and support them, they are great at organising signings, talks and school events. Sadly even big bookshops like Waterstones are increasingly under threat today, with Amazon having such a monopoly.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself. So, what nicer way to spend a Saturday morning this weekend than at Stroud Bookshop with your children, getting the chance not only to meet an author and see her at work (and get a signed copy!) but to help keep alive our local book shop not just now, but for generations to come.
Visit the facebook event page here . Bear on a Bike is on sale now.