A children’s picture book, ‘When can I go back to school?’ written by local author, Anna Friend, was published this month by Scholastic for a five figure sum. The book, which is one of a series to help children deal with difficult situations, was written in lockdown last year to help Anna’s son Billy, then aged 7, understand why he could no longer go to school.
Anna told Marlborough.news, “When the first lockdown began, Billy’s behaviour was extreme and worrying. It was upsetting to watch as his mum and I didn’t know how to help. When I read him the book there was a massive change and it was like he felt I understood what he was feeling.”
The book is illustrated by Anna’s artist friend, Jake Biggin. “I have always admired his work,”commented Anna. Jake’s pen and ink illustrations have been compared Winnie-the-Pooh illustrator EH Shepard and Charlie Mackesy, author and illustrator of bestseller The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse.
When schools closed for the third lockdown Anna and Jake decided to self-publish the book and with Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week on February 7 they offered the book free as a Kindle version to support families and children who were struggling with the huge changes in their lives.
Almost immediately Anna had an agent and a publisher, Scholastic, who were interested in publishing it along with two other books. ‘Will Mummy love me like before?’ was written when the family was living in Marlborough and Anna was pregnant with her second son and helps a child accept a new sibling. This will be published in May 2022. The third book ’Who will love you when I’m gone?’ deals with the loss of a parent and grieving. All three books have grown out of Anna’s own experiences and are written from a child’s point of view.
Anna, who is married to St John’s Head of Science and Climate Change Leader, Jonny Friend, is a drama teacher, theatre director, actor and radio presenter. She is the founder of Quirky Bird Theatre, which runs classes for 4-19 year olds, professional productions for young actors, schools’ packages and one to one speech and Drama lessons.
Anna said, “Writing and publishing ‘When can I go back to school?’ in lockdown has opened up a whole new career area for me especially when it felt like my career was being ripped to shreds.”
All three books have support pages at the back. ‘When can I go back to school?’ has suggested mindfulness activities for families to combat feelings of anxiety. Anna commented, “My ethos for the practice of Drama has always been ‘well-being’, coming along and having super fun and feel creative and awesome.”
‘When can I go back to school?’ costs £6.99 from bookshops or £5.94 on Amazon.
To find out more about Anna and Jake’s books go to: