Award-winning author, illustrator and artist Laura Wall will make her debut appearance at Derby Book Festival this June, thanks to a Derby company which is sponsoring Laura and her children’s creation Goose & Friends to help grow the brand within the UK and online worldwide.
Goose & Friends is now a series of 12 books for pre-school children – each taking the young reader on a fun journey with the lovable Goose character, his best friend Sophie and their pals as they discover the world around them.
The books are sold in 40 different countries and translated into more than ten languages. Bill Oddie has narrated six of the series and an animated pilot has been made and narrated by Dawn French with plans in the pipeline to make Goose & Friends into a television series.
Laura’s link to the city comes through award-winning Derby digital marketing agency Burnthebook in Pride Park which is sponsoring three reading events as part of Derby Book Festival.
On Friday June 8, she will host Goose’s fifth birthday party at Déda in Chapel Street between 11.30am and 12.30pm. Families will meet the Goose walkabout character and then enjoy an interactive book read by Laura of ‘Happy Birthday, Goose!’ followed by party games and Goose cupcakes.
This will be followed by an invitation-only reading event for 41 three-year-old children and their families at a city nursery school.
Children at both of these events will receive a free book and goodie bag provided by Burnthebook.
On Saturday June 9, Laura will read another of the stories, ‘Wild Goose’ at Waterstones in St Peter’s Street at 10.30am and 11.30am. The free event will be followed by colouring activities and a book signing by Laura. Free Goose bookmarks, provided by Burnthebook, are now available at Waterstones in the run up to the event.
As well as sponsoring Laura’s events at Derby Book Festival, Burnthebook are helping to make ‘Goose & Friends’ into a household name by creating her colourful website www.gooseandfriends.com to showcase Goose around the world with an online shop to sell the growing portfolio of fun books and merchandise.
Burnthebook Director Jackie Clarke explained: “I bought one of Laura’s paintingsfrom a gallery in Fowey Cornwall in 2011. Laura had only recently left her job and was dedicating her time to building a career as an artist.
“We got in touch with Laura to see how we could help and have been very much part of her professional development from those early plans to purely market the Goose artwork online to having a dedicated website for the books and merchandise.
“The result is stunning and perfectly reflects the book series. We are very proud that we have helped her to grow her business online.
“We approached the Derby Book Festival organisers about including Laura in this year’s programme and they were as impressed as we are with the creativity and sheer joy of Goose & Friends.
“I am particularly delighted that our involvement with Laura at Derby Book Festival gives us the opportunity to develop another passion of mine – education.
“We will therefore be providing every child at the Déda and nursery school events with a goody bag including a free book. I hope that this inspires more children and their families to read together and let their imaginations run wild – inspired by these adorable adventure stories.”
Laura Wall continued: “I am so grateful to Burnthebook and was delighted when they opened the doors to Derby Book Festival – particularly as it coincides with Goose’s fifth birthday!
“I hope that the book readings and fun activities will bring the characters to life and encourage more pre-school children and their families to read together.
“Bringing the Goose character along always creates a real stir and there is nothing better than being surrounded by excited children who are eagerly awaiting the page to be turned and the story to unfold.”
Laura Wall, 32, studied Fine Art at Aberystwyth University where she specialised in illustration and was set a children’s book writing challenge as an end of year project.
“I came up with the characters of Sophie and Goose largely because I am lucky to have a sister but I thought back to what I would have done and who I would have played with if I had been an only child.
“Goose is the perfect childhood friend. He is a loveable, likeable bird who is highly curious, somewhat clumsy and pretty silly but with a very big heart – making him the perfect companion to join on lots of adventures.”
Laura continued that the development of ‘Goose & Friends’ had been many years in the making.
“My university lecturer suggested that I show the book to publishers but I wasn’t brave enough at the time and got a job with a TV company working on the technical side.
“Although I worked on some great shows, working in the media was all-consuming and left me little time for my own artistic work.
“However, I took the plunge in January 2010 to concentrate on my illustration work.
“My husband Dave Butt and I trekked across the country getting my work into galleries which was hard work but very rewarding.
“At the same time I started to develop ‘Goose & Friends’ and bombarded publishers to pitch my ideas.
“The hard work paid off when publisher Award Publications commissioned four books and these were published in 2012.”
Laura opened her own art gallery and public working studio in May 2015 which attracts visitors from far and wide to see Goose & Friends’ illustrations as well as Laura’s fine art series ‘Love at the Seaside’ which is inspired by the Devon and Cornish coast in pen and watercolour.
In May 2013 Laura won Britain Best Up and Coming Artist – a prestigious award by the Fine Art Trade Guild. She has since had sell-out exhibitions with galleries across the UK and in 2016 Laura won national Entrepreneur of the Year award by the Venus Women Awards for her approach to business. Her gallery also won Best Devon Art Gallery in the Muddy Stiletto Awards in 2017.
Laura concluded: “This has all taken a lot of patience and determination but things are going really well and I have invitations to attend literary events across the world including the Middle East.
“The television series production is also gathering pace which will be fantastic but the world of media can be slow.
“I am also currently working on a children’s book for Principality Building Society in Wales which will have a serious message about earning and saving pocket money which I am very excited about.”
For more information about Laura Wall’s involvement at Derby Book Festival, please visit www.derbybookfestival.co.uk
Details about Goose & Friends and Burnthebook’s other projects is available at www.burnthebook.co.uk