What started out as a college project for a Blackpool student has just been reprinted to mark its 35th anniversary
Susan Varley’s award-winning illustrated book, Badger’s Parting Gifts, about losing a loved one, became something of a children’s literary phenomenon. It has been translated into 16 languages and is used by schools, bereavement counsellors and families worldwide. The special new edition includes a sharing reading guide, written by the charity Child Bereavement UK, which uses the book in its family group programme.
The picture book, published by Andersen Press, was written and illustrated by a young Susan when she was studying art at Manchester Polytechnic. With the help of her tutor at Manchester, Tony Ross – who has illustrated the Horrid Henry series and works by David Walliams, she came up with the badger’s story not long after losing her grandmother.
Susan, who grew up in Marton, said: “I always loved art and enjoyed drawing. It’s just something which came naturally to me.
“I never expected to have a book published and when I created Badger’s Parting Gifts, I didn’t expect it to be published, but my tutor encouraged me to send it off. It was a really nice stepping stone, when it was published while I was still at college. Andersen Press have always believed in me.
“It’s really quite rewarding to know the book has helped and is helping people. I think attitudes have changed these days and people have realised we do need to talk about grief.”
Susan – who attended Baines Endowed Primary and Elmslie Girls School – has illustrated many books for Andersen Press and won several awards – including the Mother Goose Award.
The book tells the story of Badger, who is old and knows he must soon die, so does his best to prepare his friends. His friends are grief-stricken at his death, but remember the special things he taught them during his life.
By sharing their memories, they realise although Badger is no longer with them physically, he lives on through his friends.
Badger’s Parting Gifts is available in paperback, priced £6.99