Ever since I was five years old, after my Mum had taken me to see the film Mary Poppins, I wanted to look after children, even now I’m known as Wendy Poppins, which can be a little embarrassing now I’ve retired from minding.
When I left school I became a nanny and travelled quite a bit, nannying in France, Spain and New York. In 1982 I met my then husband who told me that I was far too intelligent to look after children. Needless to say, that marriage didn’t last long! However, my three children had a wonderful childhood being brought up with all the minded children I’ve cared for since then.
The children, my own and minded, loved story time, especially when I would make up stories about Blue Rat and his friends. I had the great pleasure of having an Ofsted inspector listen in on one occasion and he loved it. In fact, thought it was outstanding!
I retired last September and knew that I wanted to write. I now had the time and the stories but needed an illustrator. I was introduced to Claire Rollinson by my daughter. Claire loved my stories about Blue Rat and for the first time, I saw Blue Rat, in all his glory, on paper. It was quite surreal. Claire and I worked together closely until “Rat’s Musical Band” was completed and ready to publish on Amazon.
My target audience is childminders and nurseries. I knew that early years children and ‘parents’ alike would love this wonderful story of a Blue Rat with a tune on his mind, searching for an orchestra to bring his tune to life.
As far as the EYFS goes, this book covers communication and language, personal, social and emotional development, and understanding of the world. It’s a story of cooperation, friendship, and gratitude with the opportunity for lots of animal noise making! And because the story is in rhyme, older children can guess the words which come next. It’s a great excuse to use wonderfully silly animal voices and have loads of fun with the children.
In October Claire and I had a “Rat’s Musical Band” book launch and signing event in Maidenhead. I had some cuddly Blue rats made and they were prizes for a children’s art competition (Expressive arts and design). I was thrilled to bits when all the books had been sold by lunchtime! Many were snatched up for Christmas presents.
Claire and I are now in collaboration with the “Rat’s Musical Band” sequel, “Rat Loses his voice”, due to hit the Amazon bookshelves by March 2018.
It is important to remember that while childminding, you are constantly using your imaginations, so if you have an inkling to write, you should go for it. Childminders are the best equipped to write a good children's book as they have the EYFS fully etched into their brains and everyday life. A sense of humour is also a must - I don't think that a childminder would survive without one!
For me, PACEY was invaluable to me as a childminder. The sections on good practice were so useful and without doubt contributed to my outstanding grades. The blogs about other childminders and how they ran their settings were very helpful too, being so inventive and enabling me to introduce some of their ideas into my own setting, which is why I wanted to tell my story as well.
If you are interested, you can read more about Blue Rat on his “Rat’s Tales” Facebook page.