Children's book launch in Bexhill

Kate O'Hearn (contributed pic)Kate O'Hearn (contributed pic)
Kate O'Hearn (contributed pic)
Author Kate O'Hearn admits she’s doing it the wrong way round. First came the musical, and now comes the book.

Last autumn saw a production of The Caterpillar and The Blackbird. Now Kate is launching a book based on the musical. The launch will be at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Saturday, May 18 from 11am to 3pm, a free event including all sorts of fun activities. Performers from the musical will be there in costume and Kate, who lives near Hastings, will be reading from the book. And before long she will be back there again. The De La Warr Pavilion will be restaging the musical at the end of August. For the book launch, Kate is promising “face-painting, a raffle when the public can win an original piece of art from the illustrator... and general mayhem. We’re bringing our sets into the theatre and are trying to turn it into a woodland. Like the show, this book was written here and the illustrator lives in Sussex as well. So it too is completely home-grown.”

Kate explains: “The musical was a children's musical, a family musical really but it started as a short story that I was invited to write through my agent for a charity book that was to encourage reading. Authors were invited to write a short story that had to be 366 words exactly. It’s about a disgruntled caterpillar that is wanting more in life. In the story a blackbird swoops down and eats the caterpillar near him and says ‘This tastes nice’ and suggests to the caterpillar ‘Why don't you eat caterpillars?’

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“A friend of mine is Tom Dwyer who is a choreographer and director. He was putting on a bit of a showcase. And I said why don't we do a skit about this caterpillar. I told Tom about it and he loved it. He said ‘We have got something here’ and eventually it became a full-scale musical. I had to rewrite it by adding more animals and more life lessons. The blackbird instead of saying ‘Why don't you eat meat?’ takes the caterpillar off on an adventure. There are lots of little morals in the book but I would say the over-arcing lesson is about unexpected friendship. Ordinarily blackbirds eat caterpillars but in this case they end up becoming lifelong companions.

“When the world came out of Covid Tom and I got talking and we just thought let's do it. It's fun. It's a jukebox musical. We have done things backwards. Usually the book exists and then the show is adapted from the book but we had the musical first.”