Campbeltown children’s author brings festive feline tale to life

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A Campbeltown woman is following in her grandfather’s footsteps by penning stories for children.

Wee Stoorie Press is an imprint created by author Kirsty Johnson and illustrator Mandy Sinclair to publish their own rhyming picture storybooks for children, written in Scots.

Their latest publication, a Christmas book titled Phantom the ginger mog an the Crumpy Christmas Eve, is now available to buy in Campbeltown, from Made in Kintyre and Keeping it Local.

It is also available from The Square Peg in Lochgilphead, The Tree Shop, Loch Fyne and Print Point, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, and will hopefully be available on Amazon soon.

Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire, and Glasgow Life libraries have bought copies for lending throughout their areas.

Kirsty and Mandy are one of the 10 awardees of the Scottish Book Trust’s Scots Language Publication Grant 2021, for publishing their four picture books, written in Scots, for children aged between four and seven, including Phantom the ginger mog.

Phantom the ginger mog an the Crumpy Christmas Eve is now for sale in Campbeltown.
Phantom the ginger mog an the Crumpy Christmas Eve is now for sale in Campbeltown.

The book is being added in the next week or so to the Christmas book 2021 category in the Scottish Book Trust’s recommended ‘Early Years’ book list.

Kirsty is also a Scottish traditional fiddle music instructor and still tutors pupils in Campbeltown, where she lives.

She started writing in 2013, creating rhyming stories for bairns, and regards writing for young folk to be a very natural development from tutoring in the art of traditional fiddle music.

Kirsty’s MacMillan family originates in Kintyre. Her grandfather, Robert Galbraith MacMillan, who was born in Campbeltown in 1899, wrote stories for children, possibly under the pseudonym John Smerby, though none are in print today.

Kirsty has been best friends with Mandy, who lives in Erskine, since their secondary school days.

They started collaborating about eight years ago, creating their picture books for youngsters.

Mandy is a long-established and highly-respected national and international illustrator, with her creations featuring in several books by publishers including Luath Press, Hodder and The National Trust for Scotland.

She has also illustrated the covers of all Myra Duffy’s Isle of Bute novels and some of her other books.

Illustrator Mandy Sinclair.
Illustrator Mandy Sinclair.

Mandy has presented illustration workshops and projects in schools, libraries and during national programmes including Book Week Scotland, The Big Draw and Aye Write!

Together, Kirsty and Mandy held two author and illustrator sessions at a school in Renfrewshire this month, as part of Book Week Scotland, and are due to host a story-reading, singing, and drawing event at Summerlee’s Winterfest in Coatbridge.

They are also scheduled to hold one of their sessions at the Paisley Book Festival in February 2022.