Kettering author writes and illustrates children's books in memory of his daughter
A Kettering man whose daughter died in childbirth has launched a series of children's books in her memory.
Wayne Dickens, 40, says through the tragedy, Grace inspired him more than anyone else – and the series of illustrated books are fun and intelligent in her honour.
Half of the proceeds from the books are donated to the stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands.
"Children’s books are something very special," said Wayne.
"They’re a moment in your day that you stop with your children to go to a different world, whether that’s an adventure, fantasy or just some silly nonsense, it’s a shared experience that stays with you."
So far, Wayne has written and illustrated three books, with a fourth in development.
They explore how to face fears and conquer challenges, using larger-than-life characters and their adventures as subtle metaphors.
There’s a friendly monster who hides under the stairs, has X-ray vision and likes earwax tea.
A goat whose quest for a replacement beard leads him to an encounter with a surprise character and a cow whose courageous mission to build a lunar rocket is the real reason behind the moon’s craters.
Aside from the entertaining antics, the stories also help children learn.
The text uses rhyme to make words more memorable, playing to children’s natural intelligence and curiosity.
Each story works on many levels. For the youngest children, the illustrations are colourful and full of exciting action.
For older children, the stories cross-reference each other, allowing the child to discover plot twists and develop their own offshoots.
And for even older children, the implied life lessons offer the chance for natural, open discussion between adults and youngsters.
Wayne regularly visits local schools with the books, reading them to the children and encouraging youngsters to develop their own literacy and drawing skills.
He continues to champion Sands, which supported him and his partner Rachel through their loss.
"I started the books because I wanted something I could do year in, year out, to make a regular donation to Sands," said Wayne.
"I previously did a triathlon-type event, but I knew I couldn’t do them when I’m in my 50s so wanted to set something up I could build on."