A parcel of pigs and other funny 'tails'

Andréa Prior's debut book is aimed at young readers.
Andréa Prior's debut book is aimed at young readers. / SUR
  • A Marbella-based author-illustrator has released a new book full of quirky rhyming poems, engaging characters and colourful illustrations aimed at children aged between five and eight

Andréa Prior, who has lived in Marbella for the past three years, hopes that her debut book will help encourage young readers to develop their memory recall, communication and learning abilities.

A Parcel of Pigs and Other Funny 'Tails' includes a selection of questions at the end of each rhyme so that children can test their memory of what they have just read, seen or heard.

In the weeks leading up to the release on 28 February, Andréa visited local schools to share her debut book with children on the Coast. The author was "thrilled" by the reaction from the primary classes at Sotogrande International School and Laude International College with "so much positive feedback from the teachers, children and parents".

In an era where the Internet and social media are seemingly inescapable, the Marbella-based writer said she feels "genuinely encouraged by the fact that children seem to want a book in their hands in preference to an iPad". She explained that this is why eBooks are not normally created for the target age group of her poems (ages 5-8).

Andréa admitted that it has been "heart-warming" to see children enjoying her rhymes and illustrations as much as she enjoyed creating them. "It's great fun and makes it all worthwhile" she said.

It is two years since Prior initially sent her idea off to publishers after encouragement from her husband. "I had written quite a few silly rhymes that seemed to go down well with children (and adults) and it was my husband that encouraged me to see if there was any interest" she explained.

With characters including "the scariest mother you've ever seen", Humphrey the Hippo and a naughty mouse who outwits a smart ginger cat, Andréa says her ideas come from "anywhere and everywhere!".

Speaking to SUR in English, the author said 'A Parcel of Pigs' (which is also a poem in the book) came about from seeing the words "written on a tatty old board in an antique shop." From there she devised similar phrases, such as 'a mountain of mice', 'a bumble of bees' and 'a tumble of trees', which formed the basis of the book.

Andréa, originally from Durham in North East England, has always had a passion for art; more specifically, an "inherent love of children's illustrated books". After gaining a degree in Illustration from Leeds University, she started her career as an illustrator and set up an Artist's Agency in London, concentrating on children's publishing.

The most part of her career was spent as Managing Director of a branding consultancy in the UK capital before her and her husband decided to "make the leap" and move to the Costa del Sol. Andréa is delighted to now be able to dedicate time to writing and illustrating - her "lifelong passion".

When asked what first got her into writing, Andréa told SUR in English of her childhood memories: "When I was young, my mother read to me every night and I look back at that time as magical." While she loved the stories of Enid Blyton, the author-illustrator said she "particularly enjoyed the poetry of A.A. Milne and the nonsense poems of Edward Lear".

The "musicality" of rhyme enticed Andréa down the poetry path and she now promotes it as "not only great fun to write but also a fun way of learning for children".

The author hopes that 'A Parcel of Pigs' will appeal to parents as well as children, particularly those who love reading together, as she believes it is a great way to enjoy a shared reading experience.

Andréa will be at Bookworld in Puerto Banús on Thursday 9 March, from 5pm to 7.30pm, signing copies of her first illustrated children's book.