"During the 1990s I visited over two thousand schools in the whole of Yorkshire where I held story-telling assemblies. I was assisted in this work by over eight hundred famous names to promote themes I considered to be very important in a young child's life (eg bereavement, loss, bullying, homelessness, racism and sexism etc.) All of the £200,000 profit from the sales of my books was given to charitable causes. All of the profits from my sixty e-book publications today are also given to charity.
During twelve years of almost daily school visits, the most glaring problem I encountered which was 'constant' across the social divide of rich and poor and between town and country schools, was the problem of 'sexism.' It didn't seem to matter whether I was visiting a school in the outer Dales or the inner city, or whether the school was church based or secular, I was consistently faced with the same problem'
Finding a male teacher in a Primary School was almost as rare as finding a woman priest in any parish. Most of the headteachers in Yorkshire schools were men, although there were more women heads to be found in the primary section than in the higher echelons of the secondary and comprehensive educational section.
The curriculum, activities and the assumptions given throughout almost all primary schools I visited, unwittingly reinforced the continuation of these sexist distinctions between the girls and the boys, while the overall behaviour in the classroom of both pupil and teacher simply strengthened these prejudices.
These twelve years of daily observation taught me that the boys were given more consideration of their needs by their overstretched class teacher than the girls because they tended to be the most noisiest and disruptive when they weren't immediately attended to. I also noticed that similar behaviour from both sexes would invariably receive a dissimilar response of a more disproportionate nature. It was as though boys were expected to behave thus whereas girls weren't or that boys were expected to do things that girls didn't and to go places where girls didn't go!
My response to this was to write twelve stories about a girl called 'Annie' who was just like any other child; girl or boy. I essentially wanted to highlight the blatent sexism practised in our society by deliberately changing the 'little good girl' image that so often becomes the stereotype. My aim in this direction of increasing 'girl power' and reducing sexism was heartedly shared by the late Dame Catherine Cookson who heard about my Annie stories and requested that I send her and her husband Tom a recorded tape of them. Upon hearing the twelve stories, Dame Catherine and her husband liked them so much that they paid for a limited- edition publication of my 'Action Annie Omnibus' containing all tweve stories for 5-9 year olds, with the profits going to a national children's charity.
In my 'Action Annie' stories, which are now published as e-books in either single or omnibus story-format I naturally aim to entertain, educate and inform the child reader. However, I also aim to remind their parents that when they next look at their young offspring that they remember that both their sons and daughters miss out when the experiences given to each are determined primarilly by their sex. In particular, I want them to take off their rose-coloured glasses the next time they look at their 'little princess' and to recognise in her the beast they have bred. I want to shatter their pretentious image of female childhood and to look at their daughters anew. When they next view their pretty daughter whom they dressed in ribboned pig-tails, I want them to know beyond any shadow of doubt that she swears, fights, farts, destroys and thinks nasty and spiteful thoughts just as often as her boyish brother does!
The Chief Inspector of Schools for Ofsted at the time that Dame Catherine helped me first publish the 'Action Annie Omnibus' edition was Chris Woodhead. He gave an interview to the newspaper describing my 'Action Annie' stories as 'High quality literature.' Because the initial print was a limited edition and was never reprinted in hard-back copy format, if you ever get hold of a copy, be aware it has a value. For over one year between 2010 and 2011, second-hand copies were being advertised in the USA for between one thousand dollars ($1,000) and two thousand dollars ($2000). All profit from its e-book sales goes to charity and it can be obtained by accessing https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/129476 " William Forde: May 9th, 2014.