New children’s author Gemma celebrates debut book at Flowerfield

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A TALENTED new voice in children’s writing comes to Flowerfield Arts Centre this Saturday as Gemma O’Neill offers a reading from her brand new book Oh Dear, Geoffrey, in a free event at the centre from 12 noon.

Oh Dear, Geoffrey is aimed at children aged up to six, and tells the tale of a rather tall and clumsy giraffe called Geoffrey. He annoys all the other animals with his long legs and neck, until one day he finds he can show his friends something they’ve never seen before… the stars.

On Saturday Gemma will welcome visitors to Flowerfield, read some sections from the story and discuss the background to the creation of the book. Light refreshments will be served and families are welcome – copies of Oh Dear, Geoffrey will be available for sale.

The book marks the first publication from a major new talent in illustration. Since graduating with a degree in illustration from the University of Falmouth in Cornwall in September 2011, Gemma has been working as a freelance illustrator.

But she was lucky enough to leave college with the offer of a book deal already in hand, as her work had been spotted at a book fair in Italy.

“It came about through a trip a few friends and I organised, to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair earlier that year,” explains Gemma.

“I presented my portfolio, sample books and sketchbooks. My book deal was then later confirmed at the London Book Fair, which I also visited.

“I was only 22 when this happened, so it was a very exciting time. I’m working on my second picture book at the moment, as well as workshops and smaller commissions.”

Templar Publishing is a leading UK children’s book publisher based in the South East of England.

Left - BROUGHT TO BOOK...Gemma O’Neill – reading from her first book, Oh Dear, Geoffrey in a free event at Flowerfield Arts Centre on Saturday at midday. CR3-109s