OUT now, a children’s book to help all those children (and their parents) who have separated families has been illustrated by a local artist.

Former Launceston resident Abbie Cleave, who now lives in Bristol, has worked with writer Caterina Hughes, a primary school teacher from Surrey, to create ‘The Very Special Dolphin’.

The book took months of planning, but for Abbie one of the best parts was seeing Caterina’s characters come to life. She said: “I absolutely loved working on this project and working with Caterina. I think my favourite part was when the final characters and storyboards were created. I could really visualise how the story was going to look and could indulge in creating the final book page illustrations.”

COVID-19 has been a major factor in everyone’s lives this past year and has hindered many projects. However, Abbie said one positive was able to come out of such a difficult time. She explained: “The pandemic has been difficult in so many ways, at the time of illustrating The Very Special Dolphin I was actually furloughed from a previous job, so one positive came out of the year as this allowed a lot of time and space to focus on the book.”

Abbie began drawing at a young age, but decided to focus on illustration following course talks at Falmouth University. She said: “I have loved drawing since I was little and always enjoyed it throughout school. During my art foundation course, we learnt different techniques and mediums, but it wasn’t until I was looking into universities and attending course talks at Falmouth University that I knew I definitely wanted to pursue illustration.

“The course explored all areas of the industry and it was then that I found a love for children’s book illustration. I love how illustrations in books and print have the ability to simplify tricky subjects and to help understand emotions.”

Through her studies she was able to develop her own unique style which, teamed with Caterina’s sympathetic approach to a difficult subject, has created an informative children’s book.

Abbie said: “I’m passionate about how story books can be a great form of escapism and used as a tool to teach young children.

“When Caterina sent me her story, I instantly felt drawn to the characters and sentiment behind the book. I feel as though the story will be comforting for young children who are coming to terms with parents who are now separated. Whilst also potentially helping parents address such a confusing and tricky subject like separation and divorce.”

The book follows Ralphie, a special, rare, and unique orange dolphin. He longs for a normal family like his friends. But what is a ‘normal’ family? Readers join Ralphie’s discovery as he learns how to cope with having parents who are separated. Caterina said: “I have written this book to help children with separated parents. I hope you like it as much as I do.”

The book, published by Olympia Publishers, is available online and in store from a number of retailers.