Oscar the Ferry Cat

A little while ago, Director Nick Ross was delighted to receive through the post an enchanting children’s book entitled “Oscar the Ferry Cat” from AHA alumni (and a runner up in our scholarship), Molly Arbuthnott.  Molly trained and works as a teacher but is also a writer.  This is her first children’s book and it is up for an award (VOTE for it!).  Nick was so entranced he not only followed the link and voted for her book but he wrote a short review too.  AHA aims “to be youthful in outlook, imaginative and creative” and part of our mission is “to nurture our students’ creativity“, so receiving this little bundle of joy in the post from Molly was a marvellous reminder that creativity is a lifelong activity!

A tremendous book which I know children will enjoy hearing time and time again, so that the gentle lessons within the story will sink in.

These stories really grow on you, so they are a delight to read again and again. The pictures brilliantly inform the words and the words create momentum so the book becomes both a page turner and something to linger over.  Oscar is brave and good and true, such good reminders for us all.   You can almost feel the weather in these books; there is something for the child in all of us.

Why is writing a book for children so hard?

I imagine because one is writing to both the adult reader and to the child.  I remember from my time with the twins how difficult it is to write a short story which is engaging and has that happy cadence as you read, but not one that is too trite.  The sentences have to be easy to breathe and lulling at the same time.  The words have to be simple enough for the child to follow and one day read.

The story can be about anything (cat, ferry, bulldozer) but the sentiments need to be good and yet challenging on occasions.  There is something of the parable about the stories.  The text must work with the pictures and the pictures have to have the power or space to entrance.  One needs to be able to be lost in them for a while and yet you have to want to look at them afresh.  I notice that children like to repeat good things, to rehearse them again and again and that seems to be the secret.  And this is just scraping the surface.”

Praise for Molly’s first book “Oscar the Ferry Cat”:

“This is an utterly entrancing book – a story beautifully told and exquisitely illustrated.”

Alexander McCall Smith

“I love the illustrations and conversations with various new friends.”

Rosamunde Pilcher

Molly’s second book, Oscar the Hebridean Cat has just been published and either would make a wonderful Christmas present for any 3 – 8 year old.  Both books are beautifully illustrated by Agnes Treherne.

Oscar the Ferry Cat has been entered into the prestigious People’s Book Prize (Patron: Frederick Forsyth CBE, Founding Patron: Dame Beryl Bainbridge DBE).  Please follow Nick’s lead and VOTE for Molly’s book, Just choose the Children’s category and scroll down to Oscar the Ferry Cat.  You have one week; voting closes on 15th October, 2018.

You can also hear Molly reading her books at The Highland Bookshop, Fort William on October 12th and at the Brompton Library on 8th November, 2018.