We’re at the start of the first of two Bank Holiday long weekends this month in the UK — guaranteed to make the nation smile, come rain or shine! However, there are a couple of other reasons why I especially love May. I’ll start with those before sharing other news.
Barnes Children’s Literature Festival – May 11th/12th
May is the month in which we have The Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, conveniently held down the road from where I live in southwest London. It’s in its fifth year and is now London’s largest dedicated children’s book festival.
As well as the many big names this year (Lauren Child, Judith Kerr, David Almond, Jeremy Strong to name but a few…), there’s also a fabulous free events programme. So if you have kids and live within reach of London, do look at the programmes and come along. I’m already looking forward to hearing Judith Kerr and Emma Carroll. Oh and I must book for Hillary McKay too!
Do you have a children’s story in you?
I’ve had great fun running children’s events at Barnes over the years. However, this year for the second year in a row I’ll be running an event for new and aspiring children’s authors on Children’s Book Self-Publishing and Marketing. If you think you have a children’s story in you, or are just curious about how it all works, do come along to find out more about this exciting world. Ages 16-66+ welcome! 🙂 (We had a packed tent last year.) Click here to learn more or book.
The Secret Lake – the magical journey continues
As many of you will know, another reason May has a special place in my heart is that it’s the time that Isabella Plantation, a stunning woodland in London’s Richmond Park, comes into bloom. The woodlands and ‘Still Pond’ (seen below during a 14k walk last Sunday!) were a strong part of the inspiration for my UK bestselling time travel adventure The Secret Lake, which is also now climbing the charts in the US and Canada.
Unbelievably, over 20,000 copies of The Secret Lake have sold in print in the last year and I’ve just signed two foreign rights deals. If you don’t yet know the story and are curious, do visit Amazon UK to read over 100 reviews 🙂 You’ll also find 35 more on Amazon.com.
It’s now almost 20 years since I wrote the first draft, after watching some friends’ children playing in the vast communal gardens of London’s Notting Hill. As I looked all around at the grand houses I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the children playing there that day could meet the children who had lived and played there 100 years earlier. If you want to know more, or to download a free sample, follow the links below. The reading age is 8-11, but it’s also perfect to read aloud to ages 6 upwards.
- Click or tap here to read my blog post on how I came to write The Secret Lake — and how it sat in a box for 10 years.
- Read reviews, buy or download a free sample of The Secret Lake from Amazon in your country.
The Secret Lake on offer in the UK and Canada
For those of you who live in the UK, The Secret Lake is currently on offer on Amazon at £5.29 down from £6.99. It’s also discounted on Amazon in Canada from $10.70 to $9.71. I don’t control the offers I’m afraid, so don’t know how long they will last. If you have a young bookworm at home, I’d say grab it while you can. And, of course, you can also order it from your local bookshop.
Reader fan mail – making me smile!
We authors love hearing from our readers. Above is a lovely hand-drawn postcard I received from a nine-year-old pupil, Grace, from Richmond, Texas, USA. I was travelling in Vietnam when her card arrived and my son sent a photo on Whatsapp — I was thrilled and have since written back with the ‘head in the clouds’ (that’s me!) giraffe card you can see. I’ve also just received an envelope full of letters from school children in Wiltshire, UK — most asking for a sequel after they read The Secret Lake in class! This was a wonderful surprise, especially as I’ve not visited that school.
Eeek! The Runaway Alien cover makeover
In more news, Eeek! The Runaway Alien (my fun illustrated story about a soccer-mad who runs away to Earth for the World Cup) has a had a minor cover update, with a football added. Goodness knows why we didn’t have one before! To mark the occasion, my illustrator created this animation. I hope you enjoy!
Eeek! is ‘laugh-out-loud funny’ and great for boys and girls aged 7-10 who love soccer and/or aliens. Read Amazon reviews or grab a Kindle sample here.
Hedgehog Awareness Week: May 5th – 11th
Last, but not least, it’s Hedgehog Awareness Week here in the UK next week. All year round we’re doing what we can to look out for them as they are now an endangered species.
We’re lucky to have quite a few hedgehogs in my local London village of Barnes, and there’s a huge campaign to encourage homeowners to create holes at the foot of garden fences, to allow the hedgehogs to travel to find food. This creates a ‘hedgehog highway’. The video below of a hedgehog running up the side of my family home last summer demonstrates just how far they like to go in search of food!
Click below to view a video of a hedgehog out looking for food – my brother kindly captured this for me last summer 🙂
Hedgehogs and foxes – early learning
If you have a toddler in the house, or children/grandchildren up to age 6 my gentle rhyming picture book Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog, about a baby hedgehog that meets a fox one night, ends with eight fun pages of photos and facts about foxes and hedgehogs including how to build nests and safe places for hedgehogs to hibernate in your garden. It’s always a huge hit at my school visits — not least when they come to learn what foxes and hedgehogs like to eat for breakfast and supper!
You can find out more about helping hedgehogs on the Hedgehog Preservation Society website.
Do you have hedgehogs where you live? I’d love to hear about them or see some photos if you do!
That’s it for now. I hope you have a relaxing May bank holiday weekend if you’ll be getting time off where you are. And, for those of you in the US, I hope the children have been getting stuck into reading more than ever over the last week!
With very best wishes,
PS If you or your children have read any of my books already, it would mean a lot to me if you could help them leave an honest review on Amazon or your other preferred store. Doing so means that Amazon and other stores will show it to more people. Every little really does help! Thank you!