A WORKINGTON-BASED author has published her third children’s book this year.

Helen Haraldsen’s latest book, The Dalmatian that Lost its Spots, is based on her dogs: Lucy the Dalmatian and Petra the German shorthaired pointer. It was completed during the spring lockdown.

“It was my husband’s idea to write a story with the dogs as main characters, due to my writing the Amber’s Pony Tales series about the ponies I’d had as a child.

“And so, during a camping trip in 2019, I began the story,” said Helen, who works as an English teacher and librarian at Keswick School.

“But I was busy writing the pony books so it got put on hold while I focused on them.”

Sadly, during lockdown, Lucy passed away suddenly during a walk. “It was so shocking and upsetting, we just couldn’t believe it. Lucy was such a beautiful dog with a big personality and she was a huge miss, even though we still had Petra.

“I thought ‘That’s it then, I’ll never finish the Dalmatian story’. There just didn’t seem any point,” said Helen.

“But later, I thought it would be nice to finish it in her memory, as I did with the pony stories.”

Once Helen had completed the story it was illustrated by artist Steve Hutton, who used photographs of Lucy and Petra for inspiration.

Before publication, Helen sought feedback from some well-known children’s authors.

“I didn’t expect to hear back from anyone to be honest, so I was amazed when two award-winning authors agreed to read the manuscript: Tom Palmer, author of D Day Dog, and Sam Angus, author of Soldier Dog.”

Sam provided detailed notes on the story’s strengths, plus some suggestions to make it even better.

“I couldn’t believe she’d taken the time to get so involved with the story and provide such detailed feedback. It was so generous of her, I was truly amazed. I used some of Sam’s ideas and worked with my editor to make a few changes and additions. I’m really happy with the final story,” said Helen.

Helen visited Braithwaite Primary School to test part of the story out on the Key Stage 2 pupils and invite them to help choose the blurb and cover design.

“We still miss Lucy, but we now have another spotty dog in our lives as we got a Dalmatian puppy called Bella, who is now almost eight months old," said Helen.

"She and Petra are already the best of friends. It’s nice that the book is out there now keeping Lucy’s memory alive and I hope that readers enjoy it.”

Helen is already planning the next book featuring another adventure for Lucy and Petra.

Her latest book is available online through Amazon and The Book Depository.