Today we are talking with Elizabeth Cummings about The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World from the Verityville series. This interview is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
I previously introduced you to Elizabeth when I interviewed her about her heart-warming picture book The Forever Kid.
About Elizabeth Cummings
Elizabeth Mary Cummings was born in Manchester, educated in Scotland and has lived in Australia and New Zealand for many years. Starting her professional life as a primary school teacher, Elizabeth’s teaching career has taken her into many different roles, including teaching in both the public and independent sectors, working with refuges, special needs and foreign language teaching. When she moved to Australia in 2008 Elizabeth developed and ran a successful language business before releasing her first picture book in 2015 (The Disappearing Sister- a sibling’s account of anorexia nervosa). Her stories often take a child’s perspective to explain the world and reflect on important life experiences including themes of resilience, grief, equality, the natural environment, kindness, empowerment, anti-bullying and mental health. Elizabeth set up her independent publishing company in 2015 and is also published by Big Sky Publishing.
About the Verityville series
Have you wondered about what other people do? The ordinary, everyday people – the people that make our lives the way they are, those who help us, care for us, look after our town and do the little things that make a difference to our lives. Have you ever caught a little glimpse of their little routines or the daily habits? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be them?
In Verityville there are many amazing folk, all going about their daily business, making the town what it is. Their work and their efforts make Verityville a marvellous place to be, full of wonder, friendship and adventure!
Come take a trip to Verityville and meet some of the wonderful people who live and work there!
Little tales for little folk about real life in a veritably fabulous place…Verityville.
About The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World
In The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World we meet Audrey and read all about the magic of kindness! She lives in Verityville. She is a lollipop lady – the sweetest lollipop lady in the world! Nothing is too much trouble – she loves to look after everyone who uses her crossing. Always kind, with a friendly smile and a sprinkle of magic, Audrey helps and cares for her community.
” A real story of caring for others through the small deeds of kindness told from a child’s point of view”.
What I like about this book
This book is one of a series which highlights the important roles of people we see around us every day and explains the contribution they make to our lives.
This book is about the lollipop lady. Most school children will be familiar with the crossing supervisors who help to keep them safe as they cross the roads to school each day, but many will not give more than a passing thought to their role.
I like that this book, and others in the series, helps children become aware of those around them and encourages them to share kindness with all they meet. The books are non-fiction narratives, fictional but informative. I like that Cummings also includes road crossing advice for children and for parents of young children.
Other titles in the series
Other titles include:
- Garbage Guy
- Girl on the Road
- Mrs T and the Magic Pencil
- Hair Magic
- Brave and Strong All Day Long
Welcome back to readilearn, Elizabeth. Today we are talking about your Verityville series of picture books, especially The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World.
The series introduces children to people who work in different occupations that will be familiar to them in their everyday lives, including crossing supervisors, hair dressers, traffic controllers, life guards and teachers. What gave you the idea for writing this series?
I first came up with the idea from talking to my dear friend Audrey, who is a hairdresser by professional but then took up a job of being a lollipop lady at a local school where I was teaching so that she could manage her work hours around her own children’s schooling. We would chat about our day and she had so many hilarious, and at times, shocking stories of how she had helped people or how she was treated by other road users.
I nicknamed her ‘the sweetest lollipop lady in the world’ as she seemed to cope with all the dramas and rudeness, etc, with such kindness and grace and would always have a positive attitude to her work no matter what. Verityville grew from this as I came across more local people who worked hard and remained positive even though their efforts often went unrecognised or taken for granted.
How did you decide which occupations to include?
There is an authenticity as each character is based on a real person with whom I’d had an actual relationship/interaction with; from the teacher who taught my daughters, to the life guard who would watch out for me to the garbage guy who I run with most mornings.
Do you have plans for extending the series?
Yes – there are more characters sitting in the wings. We are in fact working on a special release called ‘The New Heroes in Town’. Each page will be dedicated to a job role that has been vital this year as our world tries to cope with the COVID pandemic. So, they’ll be everyone from delivery guys to doctors and nurses to politicians and pathologists… and more!
Why was it important for you to write the series?
An interesting thing happened around the time The Sweetest Lollipop Lady and Brave and Strong All Day Long (about a female lifeguard) books came out; there was a whole rise in interest in female role models and these books centred on famous people. I like how my stories are about the local, the unheard voices, the real day-to-day individuals. Most children grow up to have meaningful yet ordinary lives. They will not be famous or ground-breaking; yet they will make a difference in their own communities, their lives do matter. So; I think it is important to show how regular jobs matter and that you do not need to be a celebrity, the best or the first, for your life to have meaning.
What is the main thing you wish children to take away from the series?
I believe everyone is equal and everyone is important. For a society to function in a successful way each of us has to play our role. Without the people who keep our streets clean there’d be disease. Without teachers who care many children would struggle. Without people monitoring our traffic there’d be accidents and chaos. I wanted to celebrate these people, to show gratitude for how their work makes my life better.
Now, let’s talk about Audrey, the sweetest lollipop lady in the world. Is she based on a real lollipop lady that you know?
Yes, she is a close friend. We met through our local surf club as our daughters did lifesaving (Nippers) together and we all helped out as part of the volunteer parent team.
What effect do you hope your book will have on readers?
I hope children will learn that is there is more to each character’s role than they previously considered and that each of these jobs matter, they are really important roles and we cannot do without them.
Who do you feel is the main audience for your book?
How do you suggest teachers and parents introduce the book to their children?
They can preface it with a chat about the different jobs we have, or depending on the actual book, they might talk about road safety or surf safety or pollution and then introduce the concept of the job role from the story.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about this book or the series in general?
Each book has extra information or concepts at the back – for instance, Mrs T and the Magic Pencil has the alphabet in upper and lower case, there are road safety messages in the Lollipop story, and of course surf safety information at the back of the lifeguard’s story.
Thank you for sharing your inspiration for writing these books, Elizabeth. It is nice to know that the characters are based on real people, and I’m especially pleased that they show that each of us can make a difference through our lives. We don’t need to be first, best or a celebrity to do so.
Find out more about Elizabeth Mary Cumming
On her website: https://elizabethmarycummings.com/
Or connect with her on social media
The books can be purchased from
Amazon, Booktopia, Dymocks and other good book stores.
To find out more about Elizabeth and her book, check out these other posts in the Books on Tour promotion.
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