Winners: John Docherty and Laura Hughes at the 2018 Oscar's Book Prize ceremony
It took children’s author and former primary school teacher John Docherty over 20 years to get There’s a Pig Up My Nose published.
Last week it won this year’s Oscar’s Book Prize, the £5,000 children’s book award he shares with Laura Hughes who provided the illustrations for the hilarious story.
“I had the idea while I was teaching at Hillbrook Primary school in Tooting where there was a little girl with one of those ‘snorty’ laughs, so I’d ask her, Suganthi, have you got a pig up your nose, and she would say ‘Yup’. It was the first story I ever sent off to a publisher and it was rejected by everyone,” Docherty told the Evening Standard in an interview.
Fortunately, Northern Ireland-born Docherty didn’t let a bit of rejection put him off, and while he had many other children’s books published in the meantime he refused to give up on his pig tale. It was eventually accepted by Egmont, who paired up Docherty’s words with Hughes expressive drawings.
And while perseverance has been crucial for the success of There’s a Pig Up My Nose, so is being in touch with your inner child, according to Hughes.
“When you illustrate, you have to be able to put yourself in their mindset and recall what it was like to be knee high, even if it’s just thinking about the perspective,” she says. “Luckily I’m very childish.”
And fans of There’s a Pig Up My Nose will be pleased to know that the collaboration between Hughes and Docherty is set to continue. The pair have already started talking about a sequel to their winning book. Watch this space.