Bedtime stories written for her kids could land a deal on mom TV series
When Co Londonderry’s mother, Yvonne Fleming, started telling nighttime stories to her two children, she had no idea she would end up with a series of books, animation, and an eventual TV contract, all based on her characters.
he latest addition to the series, a book containing 13 new songs by the characters, has just been released.
After working as a hairstylist and childminder for over 20 years, Maghera, a mother of two, was encouraged to make her idea of ââthe Weatherbies a career after her husband Peter heard the stories.
âHe walked past the bedroom door and heard me tell the story,â said Yvonne.
âHe listened for a while, then when I got down he said he thought it had potential. His background is in the music industry, for years he writes and creates music.
âThe kids kept asking me these stories and I couldn’t remember what I said two nights ago, so I thought I’d better start writing them.
“I started writing stories and songs, then Peter would write and record music for them.”
Although her children have grown up now, Yvonne still gives them ideas. She also works on publishing contracts and works with Peter Rabbit film writer Jodi Reynolds as well as UK production company Threewise with the potential for a 52-week run of Weatherbies TV shows.
âThe very first time I read the stories to someone else was in my little boy’s P1 class 12 years ago,â said Yvonne.
âThey had invited the parents to read a book. His teacher suggested that I read mine. I walked in thinking I was going to be at school for about 15 minutes. I was in this P1 class for two hours. The other teacher from P1 came in and said, “You know you come to see me after lunch.” I was in school most of a day talking to the kids and reading some of my stories without a lot of artwork and they all loved it.
All of Yvonne’s Weatherbies stories are based on a group of weather-themed characters who live in Skytown including Sammy Sun, Rosie Rainbow, Colin Cloud, Flo Snow, Ronny Rain, Willy Wind and many more. As well as being a set of fun stories, there is also learning for the target age group in Key Stage One and timely environmental messages.
“Children are like sponges and sometimes people underestimate a child’s knowledge and ability to retain and understand information better than some adults,” she explained.
âThere have always been environmental issues, but now it is at a point where it can no longer be ignored.
âI have always taught my children the importance of recycling. If children are more aware of how their actions can affect the environment, they can adopt more sustainable lifestyles from an early age.
The characters also help the children to discover the different forms of time and with the help of her husband, songs were developed to accompany the books.
âWe self-published the first book, Sammy Sun Is Coming Out To Play,â said Yvonne. âIt worked well, then six months later we released Rosie Rainbow’s Recycling Day and got another good response.
âWe went to the London Book Fair, where we met Tiny Tree Children’s Books and they published our third book – Colin Cloud Is Making Shapes.
âWe are also exploring animation. We developed an animation pilot with Flickerpix Animation Studios, which led to us working with Michael Ford from Threewise Productions.
Tapping into this network takes the characters to a new level.
âMichael sent my work to five or six writers to see if they were interested,â she said. “Jodie Reynolds came back and said she thought it was a phenomenal and very strong concept.
âShe said sometimes you get things sent to you and you read it and you don’t see a lot of potential – maybe a movie or maybe a series and nothing else. But she said the Weatherbies had it all. She was very excited about it and wanted me to know how committed she was to the project and how much she would like to work with me on it.
âI was blown away by this because you always guess your work. For someone with their background in the industry, seeing the potential and wanting to put their name on it was just amazing to me.
Yvonne is currently working with Jodi to develop scripts and create the ‘Bible’ character and story for the series, while working with her illustrator, James Salenga on a new Weatherbies book, Sing a Song With the Weatherbies. However, Yvonne always keeps in mind who her audience is.
âThe kids are very direct,â she said. âIf they like something, they’ll tell you, but if they don’t like it, they’ll tell you too.
âI’m relieved none of the kids said they didn’t like her. I think it’s gotta be okay if I’m still making the audience happy.
Sing a Song with the Weatherbies contains 13 songs from each of the characters who live in Skytown and is available now.