Story time

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“I’d love to write a children’s book” – how many of us have said that? In my mind it would be a cool gig: lots of pictures (good), few words (good) and hopefully lots of cheery little faces at the end of it. Well, I was recently asked to write a chapter in HP Instant Ink’s ‘Never Run Out’ book – a story written by a collection of bloggers, vloggers, illustrator and outright influencers – but as I started the process, I realised the fewer the words, the more they have to count.
Kids are the toughest audience – their attention span can flit from ‘dinosaaaw’ joy to milk-related meltdown in a flash. This audience won’t hang around while you amble through a lengthy introduction of mediocre characters. They’ll hurl that book across the nursery the minute you go off piste with a waffly storyline.
But if you get it right, it’ll become a bedtime stalwart. Anyone else able to recite their kid’s favourite story? Yep, the good ones last (and drive you slightly crazy at the same time). And God forbid you try to skip a page.
So my daughter was my ultimate critic here. The story is based on Harrison the boy and Hugo his imaginary panda best friend. The rest was up to us. The chapter prior to mine had seen Harrison conjure up an imaginary zoo using a magical pen alone – oh to be Harrison.
Mae (who is two) and I had a brainstorm about the animals we’d like to see in our chapter. ‘Stripey’, which is toddler code for ‘zebra’ kept coming up, so he was a dead cert, but the other character was a toss-up between elephant and monkey. After a few impressions of both, we decided Mae’s monkey was, indeed, the stronger impersonation, so we went down the marsupial route.
The pink grass and blue trees was all me.
As with all kids’ books, there’s always a darkness lurking beneath the surface. It’s not always about rainbows and fluffy animals, but about presenting real-life scenarios in a palatable context. We just felt the story had to have a twist, so why not throw in a unicorn? And what better than a missing unicorn?
Working on this project with my daughter was an absolute dream – both in terms of creativity and spending time with her. I always wanted to find a way to combine working and parenting and this was absolute gold. So thanks to the great folks at HP Instant Ink (and the amazingly talented illustrator Tom Percival for bringing everything to life) for letting us work on this fun project.
The theme of this beautiful little book is making sure your imagination never runs out – which ties in perfectly to the service they offer. It’s called HP Instant Ink, which means it will automatically order new ink cartridges for your printer in anticipation of you running out – essentially you ‘Never Run Out’ – and it can actually work out cheaper than buying ink the usual way at the shops. You can find all the details about ordering ink online here.
Check out the story here. Here’s to the next chapter…

Anna Whitehouse

Founder of Mother Pukka, Anna Whitehouse likes super hero cape-making classes and dislikes the naming of celebrity couples (TomKat, Brange etc.) She tries (and often fails) to parent the shit out of life.

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Turns out I’m not an afternoon person either.

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