MRS Handbag is guaranteed to bring a smile to any child’s face and was a big hit with kids and staff alike when Clair Maskell worked at a nursery in Fareham.
Clair invented the character when she worked for 11 years as a nursery nurse. Mrs Handbag often made an appearance when any of the children or staff were feeling glum. When Clair left to have her daughter, Emily, three years ago, she found Mrs Handbag was still in demand.
Clair, of Locks Heath, said: ‘I went into my old work and one of my ex colleagues asked if Mrs Handbag was ever going to come back. They all said how much they missed her, so that got me thinking.
‘I decided to bring Mrs Handbag back but in the form of a book.’
Since the birth of her daughter, Clair has been regularly blogging about her experiences as a mother and writing a book seemed like the perfect way to combine both hobbies.
She was thrilled when Gosport-based publisher Chaplin Books agreed to print her book, titled Mrs Handbag and the Magic Seed.
The first 100 books sold quickly and she is now onto her second batch.
Clair has been taking her book into pre-schools in the area and Small Talk pre-school in Lee-on-the-Solent and Little Sunbeams in Titchfield had extra special readings of the book, with a guest appearance from Mrs Handbag herself.
Clair said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the schools and seeing the kids’ faces. I feel it is important to get children interested in books and reading.’
The book is aimed at children from three to seven years old. It follows the story of Emily, a little girl whose seed will not grow. Luckily, there is a magical lady on hand to teach Emily how to care for her seed.
Daniel Cole, 20, from Waterlooville, had the important task of bringing Mrs Handbag to life with his illustrations.
Daniel, who is studying cartooning, said: ‘It was really good to illustrate a book, it was something I have never done before.
‘I sat down and read through the book and tried to imagine what she would look like. I tried to make it as colourful as possible by using pens. It’s a good book as it gives children a chance to use their imagination.
‘The story reminds me of Jack and the Beanstalk. I think kids will like it.’
The book is available as an ebook for £2.99 and a paperback for £7 from Amazon.
Clair’s blog is at childcareclair.com.