A FORMER English teacher has seen the publication of his latest children's book The Magic Makers.

John Eames, a member of the Craven branch of the U3A, has collaborated with illustrator Nicola Dennis for the book, which combines John's poetry with Nicola's stunning illustrations (with additional sketches by Emma-Jane Dennis).

John, of Skyreholme, first teamed up with his wife Jackie in 2001 to co-author Beastly Bites, an alphabetical set of humorous rhyming couplets about animals eating. The accompanying teacher's notes closely linked to the National Literacy Strategy of the time, made it popular text in local schools.

That book was composed in a spirit of friendly rivalry between the couple when driving. These days, an important source of inspiration for John is a next door family, whose two daughters (currently aged seven and nine) are presented with their own stories every birthday and Christmas.

"People sometimes suggest that in our later years we may well return to a child-like state; I'm not sure that I have ever quite grown out of mine! That isn't a complaint," said John, whose career saw him teach English Language and Literature in schools and sixth colleges.

"It is said that every human being has a novel in them but in my case it seems to be a never-ending stream of children's stories.

"Each time I have an impulse to write it seems that life has an extra sense of purpose. At the (very grave) risk of sounding pretentious, my writing seems like a life force and, while I shall never write a great novel, it gives me a deep satisfaction to write for a younger audience."

The Magic Makers, published by In Depth Design Publications, is a creation myth, written in verse. It tells of the awakening Sun discovering a new planet in the heavens – it is Earth. The Sun summons his four Magicians, or Magic Makers, to give colour, shape, plant life and animal life to the new-born planet. After this, the Lord of Motion sets the Earth in orbit amongst the other planets. The four horses from the Lord of Motion’s chariot are released to create the cycle of seasons.

John said The Magic Makers took shape quite slowly. "One day while stroking my beautiful and devoted cat Molly, I became enchanted by the faint streak of white on her otherwise black nose. Perhaps, I thought, she was created and then painted by a magician who, finding her irresistible, had caressed her nose with his not-entirely clean finger before releasing Molly for her life on earth.

"Prometheus, as I call him in the poem, stirred within me the idea that there could be other magic makers who, between them, had created the natural beauties of the world."

For more details about the book and Nicola's artwork visit: www.nicoladennisart.com