How ‘magical’ Norwich Christmas has inspired Thai illustrator

Author and illustrator Cherie Pritchard, who has just released her first self-illustrated book, cele

Author and illustrator Cherie Pritchard, who has just released her first self-illustrated book, celebrating with her three children. Photo: Cherie Pritchard - Credit: Cherie Pritchard

When author and illustrator Cherie Chen moved from Japan to Norwich 10 years ago she was blown away by the rich variety of quality children's books available.

Growing up in tropical Thailand, she said there was very little literature aimed at young people and even fewer picture books.

She added: 'The culture here is wonderful for children's books. There are hundreds of children's illustrators in England – it's wonderful. Over here, picture books seem more deeply embedded in your culture.'

As a mother of three, Mrs Chen adored spending time pouring over picture books with her children and said for her reading together is still one of her favourite ways to bond with her family.

She said: 'Looking at the illustrations, we would talk about what we liked about the page and bond through that time. The experience makes children very inquisitive and helps them with imagination and English skills.'

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Mrs Chen was first inspired to illustrate stories by drawing with her eldest son and said they would spend hours creating doodles together, which she turns into handmade story books for him.

Nothing fuelled her creativity more than Christmas in the UK.

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She said: 'Before I moved to Norwich I'd never had Christmas before.

'I knew about Father Christmas but in Thailand it's not such a big deal. Here the whole experience of everyone coming together and cooking together is so magical.'

Already an award winning author in Asia, Mrs Chen has just released her first self-illustrated book 'The Winter Wassail'.

Captivated by magical winters spent with her family in Norwich, her new illustrated offering has taken 10 years to create.

It explores the medieval winter tradition of apple wassailing in which people would sing, dance and make a ruckus in apple orchards to protect the future harvest from bad spirits.

The book will receive its official launch alongside a signing and art workshop by the author at Jarrolds between 11am and 2pm today.

n Favourite Children's book

A book of Chinese classical tales made called 'Journey to the West.'

n Favourite illustrator

Levi pinfold who drew 'Black Dog' and also Harry Potter illustrations.

n Favourite character

Winnie the Pooh or piglet. I love Beatrix Potter's characters too.

n If you could live in a fictional world, where would you choose?

It would be somewhere my children would love to live too, the Winnie the Pooh stories.

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