'Be anything, do anything' - teaching duo publish gender neutral children's book

Laura Gunson and Trish Pack are the author and illustrator of 'Alex and Their Extraordinary Everyday Adventures.'

Laura Gunson and Trish Pack are the author and illustrator of 'Alex and Their Extraordinary Everyday Adventures.' They met while they were both working at Kyson Primary School in Woodbridge. - Credit: Laura Gunson and Trish Pack

Two women who met at a Woodbridge school have created a children’s book with a gender-neutral main character. 

Author Laura Gunson and illustrator Trish Pack met while they were both working at Kyson Primary School, Trish as a teaching assistant and Laura as a teacher.  

Laura is delighted with how Trish has illustrated her story, and says her illustrations are beautiful.

Laura is delighted with how Trish has illustrated her story, and says her pictures are beautiful. - Credit: Laura Gunson

Alex encounters many fascinating things on their trip to the park.

Alex encounters many fascinating things on their trip to the park. - Credit: Laura Gunson and Trish Pack

Their book ‘Alex and Their Extraordinary Everyday Adventures’ was published in May. It follows the character of Alex, who uses they/them pronouns, on their trip to the park and the fascinating things they encounter along the way. 

“The idea of children being able to see the extraordinary in what we as adults find quite ordinary has been swimming around in my head for a few years,” explained Laura. 

“In terms of the gender neutral, or non-binary character, that idea came from the fact that I felt that those children aren’t necessarily provided for in children’s fiction – and there are children, it is not just adults, who identify in that way.” 

Laura said she has had the idea for a children's book for a few years.

Laura said she has had the idea for a children's book for a few years. - Credit: Laura Gunson and Trish Pack

Alex and Their Extraordinary Everyday Adventures is available for purchase online, or at Dial Lane Books in Ipswich.

Alex and Their Extraordinary Everyday Adventures is available for purchase online, or at Dial Lane Books in Ipswich. - Credit: Laura Gunson and Trish Pack

Once Laura had written the story and found a publishing deal, she decided that Trish would be the perfect person to illustrate the book. 

“I told Laura that the thing we had to get correct was the image of Alex,” Trish explained. “Clothing was crucial, it had to be something either a boy or a girl would wear. 

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“The thing that helped was giving Alex this wonderful long, curly hair that is quite gender neutral. 

“I have boy and girl grandchildren, and I tested it out on them. I asked them, do you think Alex is a boy or a girl? The girl said a girl, and the boy said a boy, so it was obviously working! 

“It is important to support children, so they know they can do anything, be anything, play with anything and dress however they want to.” 

Trish Pack, left, and Laura Gunson, right, met while they were both working at Kyson Primary School in Woodbridge.

Illustrator Trish Pack, left, and author Laura Gunson, right, met while they were both working at Kyson Primary School in Woodbridge. Laura told Trish that she had always wanted to write a children's book. - Credit: Trish Pack and Laura Gunson

Laura said children aged three to eight would like reading the book with a grown up, but older children and adults too can find something to enjoy. 

“Trish’s illustrations are so beautiful, and they can be appreciated by anybody,” she said. 

The book is also written in dyslexia friendly font, so it can be easily read by those with dyslexia. 

‘Alex and Their Extraordinary Everyday Adventures’ is available to purchase online, or at Dial Lane Books in Ipswich.