She’s here. She’s arrived. French Anna.

mamie de reve

Here’s her predecessor, Irish Anna.


The French edition of Anna’s Secret Granny – La Mamie de Rêve – is in my hands at last. It was published on Friday May 10 so I only needed to wait a day but if felt like a long time!

I’ve been a published author since 1996 and this is my first full-colour children’s book to be published, as well as my first French one, so it’s quite a celebration.

I am thrilled to bits with the book. I was worried it was a bit too pink when I saw the announcement for it on the Fnac site, and it is pink, but it’s beautiful. Artist Peggy Caramel has provided the loveliest illustrations for the book. I was chuffed to see Anna was a redhead like me! And Granny is fabulous, a real, elegant Mamie (French grandmother).

mamiedereve firstpagesmall

anna first

I hadn’t realised that Anna’s Secret Granny came out way back in 2000. It was pre-Ruadhri, which is confirmed in the dedication (faithfully translated in the French edition) to Benj and Cait and saying how much they wished they had grandparents. My kids were born in 1991 and 1994 and never knew either of their grandparents on Chris’s side who both died far too young, and only knew my mum until June 1995. Dad died in 2000 so they have a few memories of him – mainly of the Pringles he always bought for them when we went to stay and the way his hankies smelt of tobacco!

The story is about Anna who, like my kids, doesn’t have any grandmothers. Her friends are always going on about how their grans take them to the cinema, or the swimming pool, or buy them treats, but of course Anna misses out on all that. So she draws a picture of the Granny she’d like – and next morning that Granny turns up on the doorstep.

I used to say when I did workshops with kids at schools and libraries, and wannabe authors, that this book is based on an incredibly simple idea: a picture comes to life. Yet, although I say so myself, it works beautifully. It’s a fun story but with a real message at its heart. Grandparents are so important. When we were little Nan and Grandad were always there for me and my brother and sister and played a huge role of our lives. I so wish my children had had – and still had – a full complement of grandparents.

Anyway, here are some spreads from the two books for comparison’s sake. Do bear in mind Anna was produced by a relatively small Irish press and was intentionally a low budget book, although its euro price was €5,07 and Mamie, thirteen years later, is a very reasonable, and numerically coincidental, €5,70. Mamie has a lusher feel to her, is a lovely compact size and the colours are to die for. 


Annie drawing Gran

Annie drawing Gran

mamie drawing gran


Anna gets the goodies Gran bought her

Anna gets the goodies Gran bought her

Les achats de mamie

Les achats de mamie

The story has been changed very little. I was delighted to see that the names of mine and Chris’s mothers for Anna’s two dead grandmothers were kept – Eileen and Kate (although she was Kathleen in the original). The only change is the fictional Australian Aunt Matilda becomes grande-tante Eulalie. The cod’s liver oil becomes a carton of fish soup. What am I talking about? You’ll have to read the book for yourself!

And a huge thank you to Rageot Editeur, the publishers; Peggy Caramel the illustrator, and Ariane Bataille the translator. And of course to O’Brien Press who published me in the first place.