In conversation with... Carol Thomas

I have known fellow Apricot Plotter, Carol Thomas for five years. While I lived in Sussex we met regularly, now our chats are via Zoom and social media, but we’ve remained good friends and love to get together for a cup of tea whenever the rare opportunity arises.


Usually known for writing romance novels, Carol joins me today to talk about something a little different, her latest children’s book, Being a Friend at Christmas.

Thank you for having me, Jane. I know Christmas is a while away, but as a mum of four and a nanny of two, I know shopping for Christmas starts early when little ones are involved, hence the release of my Christmas book in September! Besides, it’s been such a strange year it seems sensible to be prepared.

Yes, that’s true, it has certainly been unusual, and I know you’ve been homeschooling so how have you found time to write and illustrate your second children’s book?

The first draft of the story was written some time ago, soon after the publication of the first Little Pup book, Finding a Friend. However, I never got round to editing and tweaking it, let alone organising an illustrator. When lockdown happened, I seized my moment. I couldn’t write my romance novel while sitting at the table, helping my children with their work, but I could illustrate my children’s book. It was actually quite therapeutic to sit and draw. I love dogs, and I love Christmas, so it was a happy indulgence to take the time to do it.

It sounds as though you enjoyed it and I think it shows in the illustrations. For those who haven’t seen the book, tell us about the story and who it is aimed at.

Thank you, following the very talented Drew Bristow, who illustrated Finding a Friend, I was feeling the pressure. But I am proud of the end result.

Being a Friend at Christmas is the story of Little Pup as he prepares for his first Christmas in his new home. He knows how lucky he has been to find his forever family, but remembers those dogs he left behind in the shelter. Wanting to ensure they have a happy Christmas too he has to be brave and enlist the help of Father Christmas.

Written in rhyme, the story is aimed at under 7s. Young readers could read it themselves, but I like to think people will share the book and talk about the emotions in the story. There’s also the opportunity for children to consider their own Christmas wish at the end too.

I know you like having that interaction in your children’s books, is that influenced by the years you have spent being a primary teacher?

Yes, definitely. Now more than ever, there is so much to compete with when it comes to holding children’s attention. I try to make my picture books engaging. Reading is an important life skill.

Developing a love of words and books from an early age, not only enriches children’s lives, but it gives them a head start on their learning journey. Modelling good reading habits, sharing books, and chatting about stories in the home helps children learn to read and inspires their imagination. It also gives them that time, that connection with an adult, when they and that book are all that matters – it’s precious!

I hope adults will enjoy sharing my children’s books with the little ones in their lives.


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