Anne Cakebread’s best-selling book from 2018 saw the process of learning Welsh, her love of Frieda (her rescue whippet) and her passion for illustration come together. Teach Your Dog Welsh is full of appealing 1950s-style retro illustrations, with a picture and the expression it illustrates (in both Welsh and English) on every double page, as well as help with the Welsh pronunciation. There are over 100 expressions to practise and an excellent and fun introduction to Welsh for all ages – and most of the phrases can also be used in non-dog related situations! Here we speak to Anne, and find out the background to her book….
Where are you from?
I’m from Radyr in Cardiff. My mother is Welsh and my father is English – they were working near London when I was born, and I moved to Wales when I was 6 years old. I’ve known that I was Welsh from an early age, and that it was special and something to be proud of.
You’ve just published your first book, describe Teach Your Dog Welsh
Teach Your Dog Welsh is a fun picture book for Welsh learners that’s suitable for beginners. It includes simple words and phrases in Welsh, their pronunciation and a fun picture of a dog to illustrate the phrase. It’s a book I wish I’d had when I was growing up!
Tell us the inspiration behind the idea of the book
My dog Frieda is a rescue whippet and came to us from a Welsh speaking home. I realised that Frieda would only respond to Welsh commands. Slowly, as I used my Welsh with Frieda, I realised that my enjoyment of speaking Welsh was growing – and it was improving as a result!
I went to Atlantic College to study for my sixth form and all my friends spoke at least two languages fluently – it was a great experience and I realised then the benefits of speaking more than one language. I’m jealous of those who are multi-lingual, and wanted to do something to help monoglot speakers like myself.
I learnt to read by looking at the Nursery Rhyme books that Esme Eve created in the 1950s. I always loved that style and wanted artwork that felt accessible and nostalgic.
Who is your favourite author?
The author of any books that I’m reading tends to become my favourite. I illustrate and design covers for books and articles for magazines, so I can be reading more than one book at the same time – from academic articles to fiction. I love ancient history and learning about ancient Welsh myths and legends, so I tend to read more fact than fiction. I always struggled with reading growing up, and I’m still quite a slow reader but once I get into a book I can’t put it down!
What was your favourite book as a child?
The Far Away Tree by Enid Blyton. We had it read to us at school and I wanted it to go on for ever! I still remember sitting crossed legged on the rug, listening to the adventures and creating pictures of them in my imagination. Afterwards, I’d draw them on paper.
Do you have any advice on how to write and publish a book?
Start. It’s taken me 6 years to write and illustrate Teach Your Dog Welsh, most of that was procrastination and self doubt. I finally started and then the book just delivered itself.
Do you have any tips for learning Welsh?
I’m very, very bad at learning languages, and it’s the one thing I would change if I could go back in time. However when I do speak and understand it, I just love it, even the smallest word or phrase gives me such a buzz, so just have a go and enjoy it. My tip for any parent is to give your child the gift of Welsh and encourage and expose them to learning the language from as early an age as possible.
Teach Your Dog Welsh has been translated into a number of different languages, with Cornish, Gaelic and Irish versions out in September 2019. The illustrations and format will remain the same.
Teach Your Dog Maori has been published as an e-book and is available now. I’ve also got Teach Your Cat Welsh out in May 2019 which is slightly different to Teach Your Dog Welsh – the cat is naughty and independent and doesn’t really listen, so over half of the phrases are different in Teach Your Cat Welsh – I don’t want to give much away, but it will make you smile!
We’re also hoping to bring out a Japanese edition in time for the Rugby World Cup!
Hopefully they will help people all over the world start learning a new language and promote some minority languages at the same time.
To buy a copy of Teach Your Dog Welsh by Anne Cakebread , click here