AN illustrator who crowdfunded a children's book has taken herself from redundancy to being featured on children's TV in less than one year.

Katherine O'Shea, who lives in Catcott, was inspired to write her book, called Molly's First Festival, after taking her toddler to Glastonbury Festival in 2022. 

Her book – which was self-published, self-marketed and entirely self-funded – was finished and available to pre-order in May 2023.

The colourful book tells the story of a little girl who goes to a music festival with her family for the first time.

It follows Molly, Mum, Dad and baby brother Ted as they make their way through the festival each day, all trying to have as much fun as possible.

Katherine held a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter, raising more than £4,000 in little over one month – exceeding her initial £3,000 target.

Bridgwater Mercury: An illustration from Molly's First Festival.An illustration from Molly's First Festival. (Image: Katherine O'Shea)

To encourage donations to the all-or-nothing campaign, supporters who pledged larger sums had the chance to be drawn into the book's festival crowds.

This meant they had the chance to feature on TV when CBeebies approached Katherine to feature Molly's First Festival in a segment filmed at the festival's Worthy Farm home.

But before inspiration struck, Katherine found herself being made redundant when the business she was working for closed down.

“This was at the point when I had a one-year-old girl,” she said.

“I went to Glastonbury Festival after finding out that I wasn’t going to have a job.

“Glastonbury served as inspiration for me.

“I was with another friend who was a mum, and she was looking for souvenirs.

“I didn’t think anything of it, but I guess that seeded in my head. I couldn’t see anything that fitted what I wanted to do.

“I was an illustrator before, but it had been a while since I had been in that world. I thought ‘now I’ve been made redundant, I’m going to revisit it’.”

Bridgwater Mercury: Katherine and her daughter Molly at Glastonbury Festival.Katherine and her daughter Molly at Glastonbury Festival. (Image: Katherine O'Shea)

Katherine didn't have a budget to put towards the project so chose to ‘put it all on the line’ and publish her campaign on Kickstarter.

“It was a lot of hard work marketing for it, and it was really nice that it went over my target,” she said.

“Most of the money came from people I hadn’t even met.

“There’s only so far you can get with people who know you, but then people started sharing it and there were lots of messages of support.

“The idea of taking children to festivals is really taking off now, and people think it’s nice that there’s something just for them.”

CBeebies producers soon approached Katherine for their television special, broadcast after Glastonbury Festival 2023.

Katherine said: “I put my website up and they found and approached me when they were looking for children’s music festival books.

“They were quite secretive about it. Whilst I was getting ready to publish, I had this lined up, but I couldn’t really say anything about it.

“And it turned out to be this television special they recorded at Glastonbury.

“It's so nice that CBeebies recognised the idea that parents want to take their kids to festivals and helping to show kids what they would be like.

“Once I was able to tell everybody, people who supported the campaign were so excited to watch it.

“There’s a whole bunch of kids who had been drawn into the crowds, and I got to tell them they were going to be on TV as well! It was really cool.

“It’s amazing how fast it came about – all within one year.”

With festival season just around the corner (Glastonbury returns on June 26), Katherine will be promoting her book to parents and their children at events around the county.

This will include a reading and interview on the Poetry Stage at Valley Fest near Bristol, plus a reading at the new Books on the Hill shop in Clevedon on May 18.

Advice for parents taking their children to festivals

Katherine has advised parents taking their children to a festival for the first time to do their research and be well-prepared.

“Some festivals have more available for children than others, but most of the larger ones will have a dedicated children’s area,” she said.

“If they have family camping, that’s really good.”

Bridgwater Mercury: Glastonbury Festival takes place on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset.Glastonbury Festival takes place on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset. (Image: Matt Crossick, PA Wire)

She added: “A lot of people recommend trolleys, but we used a rucksack for Molly at Glastonbury.

“I think the main piece of advice is having the right attitude, as it’s not going to be the same as going to a festival without your kids.

“If you go in with the right attitude, it can be really lovely and fun.

“They will really enjoy it if you try and got with the flow.

“It’s about enjoying it together – and that’s the message of the book.

“I wanted to make a book that had a nice positive message for parents as well as children, and helping them reminiscence on the festival experience or helping them know what to expect.”