Banburyshire author publishes children's book to help them with their emotions during difficult times

A Banbury author and publisher has written a picture book to help young children open up about their anxieties in uncertain times. And already her book is selling like hot cakes.

Banburyshire author Karra McFarlane with her children's book, Pete Stays Home
Banburyshire author Karra McFarlane with her children's book, Pete Stays Home

Karra McFarlane, a mother of three young boys, was inspired to write Pete Stays Home by the difficulties isolation during the coronavirus lockdown poses for many children and their parents. She also acknowledges fears that the eventual return to reality could be even more difficult.

Pete Stays Home follows the story of a soft and friendly grizzly bear, forced to retreat from the forest to his cave for winter and his experience of staying at home with his mum until spring arrives and things get back to normal.

The book aims to get children talking to their parents about their feelings and worries by relating to Pete and his story and taking reassurance from it.

Author and publisher Karra McFarlane

The book is illustrated by artist and book designer Kim Hankinson and is available on a Banbury-based website, We Are POP, owned and run by Carly Allison and Sophie Powell. The book can be found here. Profits from sales from this website will go to the NSPCC.

Mrs McFarlane said: “There are plenty of great factual books out there to help children understand the current situation but we wanted to write something which encourages them to open up about their emotions and anxieties around being at home and not able to see their friends and wider family.

"Every child is different and will have their own way of dealing with things. The most important thing for a parent is to talk to them and to let them ask questions. Pete Stays Home aims to be that conversation-starter - encouraging little ones to talk about their feelings and to feel reassured that life will return to normal again.”

The publishing duo took the book from concept to publication in just five weeks. Having recently completed a year-long joint project together and having discussed the idea of creating a book together, they decided there had never been a better time to bring the plan to fruition.

The cover of Pete Stays Home a helpful and engaging book to encourage children to express their feelings

While Pete Stays Home is particularly relevant to the current health crisis, the pair were keen to create something that would have eternal appeal for years to come, useful in any situation where children are feeling unsettled or anxious.

“We wanted to create a book which is relevant for children now but will also stand the test of time as a kind, gentle and warming picture book - something you snuggle up on the sofa to read together with some hot milk before bed," said Mrs McFarlane.

"We want Pete Stays Home to be shared time and time again, with grubby finger prints all over it, turned up corners and perhaps the odd tear – yes tears of sadness but also tears of joy.”

Readers meet Pete as a happy, sociable young bear who enjoys going to school, playing with his friends and spending time with his Nan and Gramp.

Artist and book designer Kim Hankinson who has illustrated Pete Stays Home

But when winter comes, Pete must stay inside with his mum. Pete misses his school and his friends but, over time, learns to enjoy the time he spends at home with his mum. Pete can’t wait to see everyone again but when the day to leave the cave finally arrives, he feels nervous and apprehensive. Pete worries that everything will be different. But he soon learns that fun and togetherness can be had again.

Mrs McFarlane and Ms Hankinson have self-published the book in order to release it at a time when children most need it. As freelancers and small business owners, they felt it was important to do their bit to keep small businesses 'alive and kicking'.

Pete Stays Home is printed in the UK with the eBook also created here. For fast and efficient delivery which avoids the use of large courier companies, the book is designed to be sent as a ‘large letter’.