Three cheers for Dog Ears as the Puffins land

From left, Trisha Deery, writer and illustrator, Laura Campbell, editorial director, Fionnuala Deane, managing director and Jackie McColgan, marketing director. 1504JM02
From left, Trisha Deery, writer and illustrator, Laura Campbell, editorial director, Fionnuala Deane, managing director and Jackie McColgan, marketing director. 1504JM02

It has been a humdinger of a year for fledgeling publishing house Dog Ears. Its first book ‘Let Me See What Will I Be?’ has gone down a storm with local readers. An app has followed. There is talk of a TV show and now Dog Ears is preparing to release its second title... Journal Reporter CLAIRE ALLAN found out more.

They saw no reason that their remote location in the North West of Ireland would stop them making an impact in the highly competitive world of children’s publishing. And they have been successful. Just over a year ago they launched their first title - and their first character on the world. Miss Rosie Red, the delightfully drawn star of Trisha Deery’s book ‘Let Me See What Will I Be?’ is already a firm favourite with pre-schoolers through the city and beyond. The book has been well received locally and in Belfast and Derry.

While Trisha works on a sequel, the Dogs Ears team have been embracing all things multi-media. Rosie has her own app (what a clever girl she is!) and the team are close to securing finance to bring Rosie to the small screen.

On top of this the ladies have been working tirelessly to promote reading and interactive learning in our schools and community groups. They managed to persuade children’s laureate Julia Donaldson - author of the internationally successful ‘The Gruffalo’ to come to Derry to talk to local readers and writers. They brought the creator of CBBC hit ‘Rastamouse’ into local classrooms and they are capturing the imagination of young readers everywhere.

And their latest endeavour - the introduction of the characters Oona and Baba to the world - is sure to build on their previous success.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ this week editorial manager Laura Campbell explained: “Oona and Baba are the characters in Puffin’s Rock. The book is a gorgeous story - set on a small island off the coast of Ireland. Oona and Baba are puffins and the book follows their lives.”

Puffins’ Rock tells the story of Oona and Baba, sister and brother ‘pufflings,’ on their adventure around the island as they follow the sounds they hear. Help them discover, “Who made that sound?” and meet some of the amazing creatures who live on Puffins Rock.

The colourful characters, Laura said, are a perfect way to gently introduce natural history to pre-schoolers. “Puffins are beautiful and very interesting birds - they make for a hugely interesting characters.”

Like the popular children’s character Pingu the penguin, Oona and Baba don’t speak English but communicate with each other in other ways - the story played out in the book.

Just like with Miss Rosie Red, Puffin’s Rock is also accompanied by an app narrated by local schoolboy Eoin McBrearty. The team are also working in conjunction with the award winning Cartoon Saloon to also bring Puffin’s Rock to the small screen and have secured the support of CIIF and Northern Ireland Screen to do so.

The only fly in the ointment is that the official launch of the book has had to be postponed while talks take place on a possible exciting development for the book. But this is not stopping the Dog Ears team from holding a special celebration this Saturday to mark just how far they have come as part of the CultureTech festival.

“The book will be available to buy exclusively on Saturday,” Laura revealed. The Puffins’ Rock Party will take place under the new canopy at the Craft Village and promises to be an event to remember to.

The event takes place from 1-4pm. is free and as well as giving young book fans the chance to get a limited edition signed copy of Puffin’s Rock, there will also be facepainters on hand, entertainment from Parky the Magician and music from The Murder Balladeers.

The Olive Tree Boutique will also be providing a vintage feel to the decorations and will have a special gift stall open for discerning shoppers.

“I suppose we want to celebrate how far we have come,” Laura said. “We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.”

And the team are not ready to rest on their laurels yet. They have big plans ahead - and will capitalise on Derry’s status next year as UK City of Culture.

In March they will host the Humdinger Children’s festival- which will bring top authors like Julia Donaldson and Roddy Doyle to Derry. Laura describes the festival as “three or four days of great fun” and will no doubt will be as interactive as their previous events.

The publishing certainly plans to keep expanding.

They have recently welcomed the first man into their company with the appointment of John McDaid as Creative Director. More books are planned - as indeed are more apps and more TV tie ins.

The folks at Dog Ears continue to hold high ambitions - but as they have successfully achieve dtheir goals so far, there is no harm in that.

“What we have done,” Laura said, “Everything we have done... it has been a real labour of love. We could never have expected things to go as well as they have but we are of course delighted.”

The next chapter in the life of Dogs Ears seems very bright indeed.

Puffins Rock will be available on Saturday at the Craft Village between 1-4pm only. It is priced at £8.99. Admission to the Puffins Rock party is free of charge and all are welcome.