The children’s book and puppet show characters, The Grimstones.
The children’s book and puppet show characters, The Grimstones. Roe Ritchie

Grimstones a story in itself

THE story of how children's book The Grimstones Hatched came about is as much a fairytale as the book itself.

Melbourne-based trapeze artist and dancer Asphyxia, who is deaf, travelled to Guatemala and saw a puppeteer performing in a street.

After discovering his tricks, she returned home and hand-crafted puppets and a set for a stage show.

Public and media praise became abundant but The Grimstones producer, Roe Ritchie of Mullumbimby, was nonetheless taken by surprise when a book publishing offer ensued.

"I was at home one day and I got a call from Allen & Unwin publishing and I just about fell off my chair," Ms Ritchie recalled.

"Someone from Allen & Unwin had seen the show and thought it would translate well as a kids' book series."

A deal was reached but only after Ms Ritchie insisted Mullumbimby illustrator Jenine Davidson illustrate the book.

Since 2008, Ms Davidson has worked closely with Asphyxia and created much of The Grimstones' image.

The first book in The Grimstones series is called Hatched and was released last month.

Its lead character, Martha, becomes lonely after her father's death and must work life out for herself.

Ms Ritchie said it was a heart-warming tale that resonated with people of all ages.

"It's very cleverly written, so it appeals to grandparents and young kids," she said.

Young and old attended The Grimstones Hatched launch at the Speigeltent in Melbourne on February 26.

About 3000 schools have bought a copy of The Grimstones Hatched and it will showcase with 26 other Australian books at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy later this month.

"These are works of the highest quality that celebrate diversity and challenge preconceived ideas that disability is a hindrance to success," Ms Ritchie said.

The first chapter of the book is available free from The Grimstones Facebook page.



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