Ayda (8) pens ‘Rockstar Rosie’ with help of great aunt Ann

A young Derry girl has teamed up with her great aunt in Boston and published a children’s book about the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Kevin Mullan.

Ayda Cassidy
Ayda Cassidy

‘Rockstar Rosie and COVID-19’, a brilliant new book written by Carnhill native Ayda Elizabeth Cassidy and illustrated by David Baker, has been newly-published in the United States (US) and is now available on Amazon.

Not bad for the St. Patrick’s Primary School pupil who is only eight years of age!

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Ayda’s first foray into publishing was facilitated by her great aunt Ann Ferry, a Boston-based attorney, who has been writing children’s literature for over a decade now.

Ann Ferry

Ann recently released ‘Medic the Cloud and Bobby the Blue-eyed Bear’ which is the latest instalment from her ‘Featherwood Forest Series’ of children’s book which also addresses the coronavirus crisis in a child-friendly way.

Ann is incredibly proud of her grandniece who has always loved to read and write stories and who has dedicated ‘Rockstar Rosie’ to her parents Paula and Stephen Cassidy.

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“Her book is better than mine. Ayda wrote the story six months ago when she was only seven. That is something to feature,” Ann told the ‘Journal.’

The Massachusetts lawyer took a slightly circuitous route into the world of children’s publishing.

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The daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Ferry, Ann was born in Rosemount and grew up in Creggan. She was educated at the Long Tower School and St. Mary’s and Thornhill College.

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After attending Law School in Boston she graduated in 1987 and eventually settled down in the US. She has now been practising law for over three decades in the South Boston area. She told the ‘Journal’ that creating children’s books has been therapeutic and has helped her escape from the often grim reality of her day job.

“I have been practising law there, specializing in care and protection matters, since graduation.

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“I deal with child abuse - day in day out. So for ‘therapy’ I created a series of children’s books ‘The Featherwood Forest Series’.

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“I began writing ‘The Featherwood Forest Series’ about 15 years ago. To date there are eighteen books in the series and the latest deals with the virus.”

Ann is generally a frequent visitor to her home town but due to the COVID-19 induced travel restrictions she has not been able to make the trip recently.

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“I get to Derry every opportunity I get but have not been able to get back lately because of restrictions,” she explains.

Despite having lived in New England since the 1980s, Derry is never far from Ann’s thoughts.

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“Creggan was a great place to grow up. My playmates and childhood friends were pooled from a huge number of neighbours who hurtled into the street after school each day. For a long time, the scores of playmates were the only ones important to my six siblings and me. They were our world and we played and argued and reconciled and played yet again in that world that was Balbane Pas at the top of Creggan. This was my playground and together with my companions who were sturdier than the Derry Walls we sang our rhymes and made up songs engulfed and primed by the weather that drenched us every day.”

Ann jokes that creating art of some description is an irresistible impulse for people from Derry. She is chuffed that the next generation has taken up the baton.

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“We Derry folks write, are saturated with poetry and song. Now when a wee child can find hope amidst this virus - now there is a story to be told!”

‘Rockstar Rosie and COVID-19’ and ‘Medic the Cloud and Bobby the Blue-eyed Bear’ and other titles in ‘The Featherwood Forest Series’ are available on Amazon.