Sometimes the challenges we face in life can lead to the most amazing outcomes. That's the case for today's author, Marilyn Cook. She chats to us about her journey to becoming an author and her adorable book, Meet the Jolly Jangles.
Tell us about your book?
‘Meet the Jolly Jangles’ is a book written in rhyming verse where children are introduced to the Jolly Jangles, a family of twelve teddy bears created using my crochet hook, giving them each a personality of their own and children will love meeting them. Each teddy bear asks a question in rhyme which makes it a fun and interactive book for young readers. Apart from conveying beautiful messages of sharing, being different and yet being friends, the rhymes take children through the different seasons in a very novel and charming way.
I have made the backdrop where the teddy bears are placed into vibrant, lively and arresting pages that give a good pace and movement to the rhymes. It is a perfect book to introduce to children in classrooms and homes to make learning fun. My book will also introduce readers to rhyming verses and writing short poems.
Why did you want to write this story?
I was miss-diagnosed with a terminal lung disease so when I realised I had got back all of this wonderful precious time I decided I wanted to give something back to the community. I had often thought about writing a children's book but had never had the time. The miss-diagnosis gave me the inspiration to create a story that children could resonate with that would also help them with their education and show them that learning can be fun. I also wanted to help parents understand just how much pleasure can be found sharing books with their little ones.
What's been the best reaction from a reader so far?
My youngest reader, Chrystiarna, was 12 weeks old when she was first shown the book by her Mum who videoed her reaction. Chrystiarna was so excited and kept trying to turn the pages herself. She kept reaching out to the teddy bears to touch them as they are so life-like and on real colourful backgrounds.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I watch children with their parents and when they are struggling my heart goes out to them and I want to help them in any way I can. With the parent's permission I show their child a business card with a picture of the 12 Jolly Jangles on it which generally stops the child and captures their interest, next I get my phone out and show them our web site where they can see the Jolly Jangles doing their 'Wiggle Waggle' dance or doing their exercises. The transformation is amazing and that's when I feel wonderful and want to do more.
This is the start of the Jolly Jangles exercises. Visit Facebook to see more.
What's the most fun part of being an author?
I just love to see the appreciation on parents faces, I love the wonderful feedback from my first ever book and what I love the most is that I have made a difference.
What's your tip for parents to encourage reading?
I think the best reading is done at bedtime once the child has calmed down and is relaxed. This is the best time for parents to share with their little ones especially over a book when the parents can enjoy the experience too. Even joining in and pretending to be a teddy bear and making up silly voices, all of this will be remembered fondly by their child in the years to come. It is not just about reading, it is about learning how to enjoy each others company.
What's your favourite children's book of all time and why?
I remember the first book of nursery rhymes containing all of the old traditional nursery rhymes that I used to read to my little girl who is now 28. She joined in with every rhyme as she found the words so easy to remember. It was so well used it was kept together with sellotape!
Tell us more about how you came to write children's books?
Have you ever had a major life-changing experience?
I was told that I had a terminal lung disease called IPF and when I googled it I found out that life expectancy was 1 to 5 years.
Truly, I was devastated and I cried like a baby! I had beaten pancreatitis twice. I had battled breast cancer and won. Now I had been told I had a terminal lung disease and there was nothing I could do about it…. That was in 2015.
I retired early, my husband retired early and as we could no longer afford to live on the small island of Jersey we had to find somewhere else to retire. We googled where the cheapest place was to buy property – Neath! So we drew out their savings, bought a house and moved to the beautiful part of South Wales called Bridgend.
I registered with a doctor and he sent me to the hospital where they started the usual rounds of tests. Then the most amazing thing happened…. they told me in their opinion that I did not have IPF….. they believed the damage to my lungs was due to the radiotherapy I had received after having had breast cancer in 2007! She had been miss-diagnosed! That was in 2017.
To say I was over the moon was an understatement!! I now had all this wonderful spare time to do whatever I wanted!
How did that experience translate into writing books?
My brother Steve suggested I make a family of teddy bears and writes a children's book about them. For years I had thought about having a go at writing children's books but had never found the time. It didn’t take long for my imagination to take off. So the adventures of my cute little teddy bears started taking shape.
I crocheted a teddy bear, yes a teddy bear, then another, until I had 12 teddy bears and I called them the Jolly Jangles. I then wrote a children’s picture book all about them in rhyme! It was published to the world in April 2019!
Marilyn has always been crafty and all illustrations in the Jolly Jangles book are designed by Marilyn using the photos of the teddy bears. The production of the books is a true family affair. Photography by her husband Michael and promotion by her daughter Chloe.
Follow Marilyn's journey as the stories of her Jolly Jangles unfold. Watch them grow with your child, enjoy each character and make them part of your own family.
“I have this new lease on life, I have an amazing family to share it with and I have made lots of new friends too. Life is just beautiful“
You can purchase your copy of her adorable book from Amazon.
Where to Next?
We hope you enjoyed this insight into Marilyn Cook's amazing story behind the creation of her lovely children's picture book. We can see why so many children love the stories of these teddies so much. If you'd like to hear more great author stories, get fun reading activities and of course freebies, do sign up to our newsletter. You can also see all our latest books in our shop. Plus of course, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.