Nipper and the Lunchbox – the debut book from a Boston woman set to go global

Author and illustrator Lucy Dillamore with her debut picture book Nipper and the Lunchbox.
Author and illustrator Lucy Dillamore with her debut picture book Nipper and the Lunchbox.

As debuts in the world of literature go, you could do worse than the one being made by Boston author/illustrator Lucy Dillamore.

The former Boston High School student is set to see her first title – children’s picture book Nipper and the Lunchbox – go on sale around the world.

The inspiration for the story, Nipper and Richard Wakefield.

The inspiration for the story, Nipper and Richard Wakefield.

It is already available in the UK (and in Denmark and the Netherlands where it has been translated into the native languages), and by the end of the year will be stocked in the US, Canada, and Australia.

“It’s crazy,” said the 25-year-old of the international interest to date.

The book follows a devoted Jack Russell on a mission to deliver his owner’s forgotten lunch.

The characters are based on a real-life duo – local rescue dog Nipper and his Boston-based owner, Richard Wakefield.

Lucy met Richard (now her fiancé) while completing a masters in children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art.

The book formed part of her studies and would go on to catch the eye of publishers Child’s Play (International) at an exhibition of students’ work, held in London.

Lucy’s interest in illustration stems from her childhood (with Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake being her ‘all time favourite’). Writing, however, is something which came to the fore more during her studies.

“When I did the MA, I didn’t realise they also taught how to write a story as well,” she said.

Nipper and the Lunchbox was published in the UK last month. To mark the occasion, a launch party was held at Costa Coffee, in Pescod Square, Boston, last Monday, with Lucy on hand to sign copies.

Of seeing it in print, she said: “It’s very surreal, but great, obviously. It’s in the Waterstones in Boston. It was really weird to go in there and see my book on a shelf with my name on it.”

The setting for Nipper and the Lunchbox is based on Boston.

A colourful, bustling market spread with appearances from real-life stall holders pays tribute to the town’s diverse community, Lucy says.

“I see the book as a celebration of Boston,” she said.

The book is also a tribute to Nipper, who sadly passed away as Lucy worked on the last few pages of the print version – making for a situation she describes as ‘bittersweet’.

It runs to 32 pages and is aimed at readers aged three to six.

It is available to buy at Waterstones and Amazon, and through the publishers Child’s Play (International) Ltd. The paperback is priced at £5.99, with the hardback edition at £9.99.