Holmfirth’s Annabel Pitcher publishes new children’s book inspired by watching her son

Annabel Pitcher during a school visit to Morley Academy in 2013. Photo: James Hardisty.
Annabel Pitcher during a school visit to Morley Academy in 2013. Photo: James Hardisty.

Inspiration can come in many forms, but for Yorkshire writer Annabel Pitcher her latest outing came watching one of her sons mediate a heated debate between two toys over a piece of cake. plastic birthday.

The Holmfirth woman’s children’s picture book, Happy Birthday, Dog!, was released last week and marks a break from the young adult (YA) novels the former Wakefield Girls High School teacher is known for. .

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The latest version, which is illustrated by Fabo Santiago, involves a dog and a cat who are usually friends arguing over whose birthday it is.

“All of my books have tended to be about people finding themselves in less than perfect situations, but finding joy in them,” Annabel explains.

“It was supposed to be funny and hopefully really entertaining, but I think it’s about a less than perfect birthday and the fact that even in that kind of imperfection it’s kind of really happy day anyway.”

She adds: “The cat and the dog love each other. Then they bother. Then they fall in love again. They exasperate for a minute; tying the next one. I’m sure many parents will understand!

Annabel studied English at Oxford, where she says she “spent more time reading children’s novels than I was supposed to.”

She wanted to be a writer but didn’t think it would be possible to make a living from it, so she took jobs at the UKTV press office and as a racer at Granada Studios “but didn’t really find it very satisfying” .

She became a teacher, although Annabel and her husband Stephen went on a trip in her late twenties, and she decided it was time to try writing a book.

“To my amazement it was published and the rest is history,” she says.

Her first book, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, won her the Branford Boase Prize, while the follow-up to Ketchup Clouds won the Waterstones Children’s Book Award and the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Fiction in the US. .

Her subsequent novels, Silence is Goldfish and The Last Days of Archie Maxwell, were both nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal.

Annabel dedicated the latest picture book to her four sons – Isaac, Sebastian, Charlie and William, aged eight to almost a year old.

Just like in her books, Annabel, who turns 40 this year, describes her own work-life balance as “very happy and chaotic confusion”, but says having a large family inevitably affects productivity.

She says, “I hate the myth that one person can somehow juggle everything and that it’s just a matter of supreme organization and discipline that separates the performers from the testers.

“The truth as I see it is that everyone does, really.

We are all on our own and a compromise is found somewhere,” she adds.

“I choose to have a large family and to be home and work with the kids if or where I can.

“As a result, I’ve been a lot less productive in terms of writing than I otherwise might have been, but that’s not a problem for me.

“Compromise makes me happy most of the time, even if it is not without frustrations, of course.

“Other people make different, wonderful choices that suit them. Women should have the right to choose, but the idea that there is a super race of women who do everything one way or another doesn’t help and isn’t a myth I wish to perpetuate.

Happy birthday, dog! by Annabel Pitcher is now available in bookstores and has been published by Hodder Children’s Books. It sells for £12.99.

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