Thursday 8th September 2022
From left author Laura Westring and illustrator Jon Bishop Photo credit: Ashley Coombes | Epic Scotland
A children’s picture book promoting confidence, and inspired by cottage life in Stirlingshire, aims to raise money for children’s activities as the cost of living continues to rise for families.
Slug in a Mug, written by Scottish speechwriter Laura Westring and illustrated by greetings card creator Jon Bishop (The Grey Earl), is the tale of a slug whose taste for sweet treats leads him to unexpected places.
The “almost true” story was inspired by Westring’s move to an empty cottage in 2020. Having woken one morning to find a slug in her mug, Westring began inventing stories with her young son to relieve the stress and social isolation of pandemic lockdowns.
Westring believes imagining and reciting stories can be a beneficial activity for the whole family and increase the confidence of young children as they learn to speak and empathise.
Through Creative Stirling, a social enterprise supporting local artists and makers, Laura contacted Perthshire-based illustrator Jon Bishop and both set out on an almost two-year, self-funded project to bring their slug to life. Collaborating with Gerald Richard, CEO of Scottish charity Super Power Agency, the book also includes an activity to help children with writing skills.
Illustrator Jon Bishop said of receiving the manuscript for Slug in a Mug in January 2021, “It was the first children’s story I wanted to illustrate from the first reading. From the subtly sick sense of humour to the message that it’s okay to be bold and think differently to those around you, everything told me this slug had legs.”
Westring is keen to ensure that the cost of living doesn’t remove opportunities from diverse and under-resourced communities, and so both Westring and Bishop hope to support a variety of community workshops and children’s activities run by Creative Stirling through sales of the book.
Commenting on the book Laura Westring said, “Families with young children have gone through the lonely trial of providing care while working in pandemic conditions only to see the cost of living rise astronomically as they begin to tackle the longer-term emotional and developmental consequences of those difficult years.”
“I hope people enjoy reading Slug in a Mug as much as we’ve enjoyed making it, so that we can fulfil our ambition to reach revenue and pay it forward.”
Notes to Editor
Laura is a writer of Scottish-Iranian heritage and a member of the Baháʼí Faith. She began a career in speech writing in Brussels after introducing US President Barack Obama’s ‘Address to European youth’ in 2014 with her own speech on the role of fathers in helping their daughters to succeed. In 2016, Laura returned home to join what she considered to be a growing “business for good” movement in Scotland; advising businesses and politicians on ethical communications and occasionally writing guest essays for The Scotsman. Laura is a Senior Fellow of the Landecker Democracy Fellowship, a supplier of speech writing training to the Scottish Parliament and Senior strategic communication and culture manager at Amiqus, an award-winning tech for good company.
Jon Bishop, also known as The Grey Earl, has been making creative work in Scotland for over a decade. Working with clients including the Edinburgh Fringe, Glasgow Museums, Stirling University, Visible Fictions Theatre, Stirling Photography Festival and Wildhood - A Children’s Art Festival, he has an eclectic folio but with a distinct sense of style. His work has been shown at the National Gallery in Edinburgh, Jon has held his own private shows in Glasgow and toured the UK with children’s theatre company The Letter J.
He is an independent publisher of greeting cards with a modern approach, using humour at its core and has spent his career developing a children’s picture book aesthetic for work that has exhibited across the UK. With years of experience delivering community art workshops in various settings, from schools to art festivals and more recently developing a series of online video content, born out of Lockdown (The Toilet Roll Sessions) all designed to support both children and adults discover their creativity.
Creative Stirling The essence of 44 King St is to facilitate the continued development and success of Stirling’s creative economy in the heart of the city. 44 King Street is being supported by a wide range of partners, in line with the project’s co-operative ethic to support learning, enterprise and skills development. Within this, there is a specific focus on the creative and heritage sectors that are key aspects of Stirling’s plans for Economic Growth.
Creative Stirling works with local partners to support a variety of cultural and other artist-led events and projects for and with our community, to help promote and grow creative potential and ambition for people living and working within the city. We are the lead organisation behind Made in Stirling and the new creative hub and gallery space at 44 King Street, enabling us to offer a growing range of creative practice workshops led by local artists and makers.
The hub community is a rich mix of creativity, enterprise, community and business; it is home to the Stirling Place Partnership, Stirling Men’s Shed Project, GoForth Stirling, the local Business Improvement District Initiative and there are plans in development for a new community kitchen space; The Kitchen@44, with Stirling City Radio and other Stirling partners to become part of this dynamic social enterprise collective, supporting the creative and cultural community in the heart of the city. More partners are coming on board every day, ensuring creative people who live and work here are super connected across our city and our wider communities.
Super Power Agency
The Super Power Agency is a Scottish Charity (SC046550) working with Scotland’s most disadvantaged and under-resourced young people. Our creative writing workshops, interdisciplinary programmes, and mentoring make learning fun. They encourage pupils to put pen to paper, build their writing skills and express themselves with confidence.
Founded in 2016, the Super Power Agency follows a tried and tested model first trialled in America, 826 National, which has since been adopted by more than 50 organisations worldwide. We are dedicated to showcasing the written works of the young people who take part in our projects and have already published over twenty-seven books.
One of our first “The Leither’s Guide to Leith'' is now housed in the archives of the National Library of Scotland – quite an accomplishment for its young authors.
Currently partnered with 21 schools in Scotland, our volunteers share their time and talent to support the work of teachers and youth workers.