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You can take our trampoline…but you can’t take our freedom!
That’s the message from Lismore granny-turned-author Jennifer Baker whose trio of children’s Tartan Trampoline stories are flying off the shelves.
Lockdown saw youngsters cooped up with adults and that gave Jennifer the idea of publishing the adventure stories as a way of giving them a bit of grown-up-free space – and lots of fun.
They tell the tales of Manny, Effie and Tilly who visit their grandmother on a Scottish island every holiday. In her garden is a magic tartan trampoline which whisks them off to adventures around the Argyll islands.
The three stories were already written by the time Covid struck, inspired by a garden trampoline that got blown away in a storm that blasted its way across Lismore in 2016.
‘I’d been driving friends home from choir when I told them about the vanishing trampoline. One of them joked it would have been funny if the kids were on it.
That led to an idea – what a great story that would make – so I set to and The Tartan
Trampoline and the Pirate was written. That was for Effie, one of my three grandchildren who was crazy about pirates,’ said Jennifer.
The Tartan Trampoline and the Red Shoes and The Tartan Trampoline and the Superheroes followed, written especially for Manny and Tillie.
A one-off of The Tartan Trampoline and the Pirates was published first – the size of the Mr Men books – to be read at one of Lismore’s Litfests, but in 2020 when lockdown kicked in Jennifer got thinking about her own grandchildren in Glasgow and Manchester, and all the other children who were suddenly under constant adult-supervision, not able to get out and about much and not able to play with friends or visit family.
‘So I decided to publish these stories which are about flying and freedom and no adults overseeing every move. If the children couldn’t come here to our Scottish island then I would take freedom to them,’ said Jennifer, who called on the help of two other women to help make it happen.
Illustrator Sarah Campbell who also lives on Lismore and runs Mogwaii Design joined Jennifer on the Tartan Trampoline adventure and so did Benderloch publisher and editor Helen Crossan of Mòr Media Ltd.
‘The three of us worked socially distanced for many months – it was a marathon job. Writing the stories was the easy bit!’ said Jennifer, who hopes to take her books on tour including a storytime, she hopes, at Lismore Primary and Oban Waterstones.
Waterstones has the books in store now, they are also available at shops in Inveraray and Appin, and can be bought from online marketplace www.isle20.com – a social enterprise supporting island businesses.