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Author Theresa Jennings and 'Hughie the Dragon' inspire young readers in Gibraltar

Local children’s author Theresa Jennings’ book Hughie The Dragon's First Day at School is being read by numerous schoolchildren on the Rock and is readily available in their schools.

The book is one of three, with future books in the pipeline.

Ms Jennings has always been an avid reader and loved writing and, while she writes for her job, she
wanted to use that skill in a “more valuable and creative way.”

The mother of two, both of which are young adults, raised her daughter and son with a routine of bedtime reading.

“Bedtime reading was always part of our evening routine at home when my children were young. I loved creating that bonding time, a quiet, cosy bubble at the end of a hectic day and helping them engage their imagination, doing what I can as a parent to boost their educational needs in those early years,” she said.

“It does wonders for their vocabulary and imagination.”

She feels that bedtime reading is being lost in a world that is ever changing.

“Children are missing out on bedtime stories because of time-poor parents. With parents working longer hours, fewer parents read to their children now and are often going to bed with a device and screen to entertain them, which is a shame,” she said.

With all of this in mind the character Hughie was born and a series of books created.

“Hughie was just an idea that developed. I wanted to create a cute character to engage young readers. Finding a name for the character was the hardest part as there are so many cute dragons names out there already in use,” she said.

When writing, she allows her stories to evolve naturally.

“I develop a plot, develop the characters in the book and craft engaging, age-appropriate language suitable for young readers,” she said.

“I am creating a series of heart-warming short stories around different childhood challenges, milestones and themes, that young readers can relate to at the same time helping them conquer any fears they may have.”

“First day at School, the first day at the dentist, learning to swim,” she added.

Having read so many children’s books over the years, she felt writing these books “felt quite natural”, with the aim of always conveying a meaningful message in each story.

So far the books have been a success, with Ms Jennings having received positive feedback.

“The feedback has been great, and it has inspired me to write more. Children enjoy the vibrant illustrations and the cute characters,” she said.

“I am often stopped by adults who have bought my book. I have also heard “Hughie’s First Day at School” is being used in a local school as a take-home read.”

While Ms Jennings writes the books, they are illustrated by Talha Riaz, who understood what the author was asking and wanted to convey.

“I sent him various pictures depicting the type of character I wanted and the storyline in mind. He has developed captivating colourful characters, with vibrant and fun illustrations bringing each story to life,” she said.

With these books already available she is focusing on the next edition.

“I am currently writing a Christmas-themed book, Hughie the Dragon Saves Christmas, where Hughie helps an injured Rudolph and Santa deliver presents around the world on Christmas Eve,” she said.

This book is due for release by the end of October, just in time for Christmas.

Beyond this book, she aims to write more and also introduce more characters where she will also explore more themes.

The series of books are available in paperback and on Kindle on all Amazon sites.

For more information, check out Hughie on Instagram: @Hughie_The_Dragon

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