Maghera mum turns storytime for her kids into publishing business
Yvonne Fleming has publishing deals and working with Peter Rabbit script writer, Jodi Reynolds and UK production company, Threewise to bring her Weatherbies characters to life
When Maghera mum, Yvonne Fleming, began to tell her two children night-time tales, little did she know that she would end up with a series of books, animations and a potential TV deal all based on her Weatherbies characters.
Yvonne was encouraged to make her idea of the Weatherbies characters into a career after her husband Peter overheard the stories.
“He was walking past the bedroom door and heard me telling the story,” Yvonne explained. “He listened for a while and then said he thought it had potential. His background is in the music industry, for years he has been writing and creating music. I started writing stories and songs, and then Peter would write and record the music for them.”
Now her children are grown up she still runs ideas past them, but she is also dealing with publishing deals and working with Peter Rabbit script writer, Jodi Reynolds, as well as UK production company, Threewise, with the potential to have a 52-week series of Weatherbies TV programmes.
All the Weatherbies stories are based around a group of weather-themed characters who live in Skytown including Sammy Sun, Rosie Rainbow, Colin Cloud, Flo Snow, Ronny Rain, Willy Wind and many more. As well as being a fun set of stories, there is also learning for the target age range within Key Stage One and timely environmental messages.
“Children are like sponges and sometimes people underestimate the knowledge a child has and their ability to retain information and understand it better than some adults,” she continued.
“There have always been environment issues, but it is now at a stage where it can no longer be ignored and needs to be addressed. For me it has always been very important, and I’ve always taught my kids the importance of recycling and not wasting electricity – teaching them to do their bit. If kids are more aware of how their actions can affect the environment, they can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle at an early age.”
As well as the environmental messages, the Weatherbies also help children learn about the different forms of weather and their characteristics and roles.
“Our Colin Cloud Is Making Shapes book is a fun story about the cloud changing shapes but also educates children about the water cycle,” said Yvonne. “It helps the kids to understand the importance the water cycle has in keeping the plants and forests alive.”
With the help of her husband, songs have also been developed to accompany the books.
Yvonne has been determined to see her books grow and flourish into other media such as animations and online content.
She outlined: “We self-published that as our first book, ‘Sammy Sun Is Coming Out To Play’. It did well and then six months later we published Rosie Rainbow’s Recycling Day and we got a good response. We went to the London Book Fair, where we met Tiny Tree Children’s Books and they published our third book – Colin Cloud Is Making Shapes. We’re also exploring animation. We have developed an animation pilot with Flickerpix Animation Studios, which has led us to work with Michael Ford.
“Michael Ford from Threewise Productions is working with me to build a team of professionals in this industry to help further develop the Weatherbies for animation. He sent my work out to five or six writers to see if they were interested.
“Jodie Reynolds came back and said she thought it was a phenomenal, very strong concept. She said sometimes you get things sent to you and you read them and you don’t see a lot of potential. But she said The Weatherbies had it all. She was very excited about it and wanted me to know how strongly she felt about the project and how much she would love to work with me on it.
“I was blown away by this because you always second guess your work. So, for someone with her track record in the industry to see the potential and want to put her name to it was just amazing for me.”
Yvonne is currently working with Jodi developing scripts and creating the character and story ‘Bible’ for the series, while also working with her illustrator, James Salenga on a new Weatherbies book “Sing a Song With the Weatherbies”.
She added: “Children are very blunt. If they like something they’ll tell you, but if they don’t like it, they’ll also tell you. I feel relieved that none of the kids have actually said they don’t enjoy it. I think it must be okay if I’m still pleasing the audience.”
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