A long overdue hello from a cool and breezy London! I hope that you and your family members are staying safe during this very challenging time, and that books have helped offer a means of escape if you’re at home with little ones. 📚
I’ve been extremely busy over the last few months, working on a new picture book (amongst many other things) and am thrilled to let you know that, after a delay waiting for the proofs, it is finally out today! As you can see, it’s called The Tell-Me Tree and my good friend Anne Swift has worked her magic yet again with the illustrations 😊 .
As with so many of my stories, The Tell-Me Tree was a long time in the making – or ‘brewing’ rather! The initial inspiration came three years ago from a majestic London Plane tree – one of many that stand on the green near the pond in Barnes village, close to where I live in west London.
I must have walked past that tree hundreds of times in the last 25 years, but on that particular evening I spotted a face and nose in its trunk – captured in the first photo on the left below – and thereafter just couldn’t get it out of my mind! From that moment I knew it would feature in one of my stories – and although I had no idea what that story might be, I was certain that the tree would be caring, wise and friendly, and that children would gravitate towards it for that reason.
For me, it’s a case of ‘the best things come to those who wait’ where stories are concerned, and wait I did. Little did I know that it would be three whole years for another moment to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end to complete the puzzle! That moment was a chance overheard remark by a parent (whom I didn’t know) whose daughter had come home from school and drawn a picture that made the family realise she wasn’t happy. In that instant I got my special ‘tingly feeling’ and quickly realised that the tree was going to be part of a story that helps children talk about how they’re feeling – be that happy, sad or somewhere in between. (I often tell children about my tingly feeling at school visits when they ask how I get ideas.😊 )
The very next day as I drove the 10 minutes to my usual gym session (remember those?!) the words for the story came to me in such a rush that I had to dictate them into my phone the moment I parked! Here’s a short excerpt. I hope you enjoy…
The Tell-Me Tree intentionally isn’t ‘heavy going’ in nature – rather it gently encourages conversation with friends, family or trusted grown-ups through drawing, writing and conversational activities, whether you’re feeling happy, sad, excited, proud, lonely – and a range of other emotions. It can be used at home, at school, between friends or in any other setting and includes links to a variety of fun download sheets that children can use to create their own Tell-Me Trees and put their friends, or anyone else they wish beneath it. The downloads also include a full colour Tell-Me Tree poster.
There are also links to resources for grown-ups, offering tips on how to encourage conversations with a child if you are worried about how they’re feeling, and where to get more information should you need it.
I do hope you enjoy this very special book. As ever I am indebted to my great friend Anne Swift for interpreting the story so perfectly with her stunning pen and ink illustrations.
From today it’s available in print and as an eBook on Amazon – though I would always recommend print! The eBook version can be read on a Kindle Fire or a tablet such as iPad, or on a Smart Phone using the Kindle App. (It won’t work on a standard Kindle.)
Later next week the print edition should become available in online stores beyond Amazon. It will also become available to order from high street bookshops, though lead times may vary. Covid-19 has meant getting it into the wider world has been a little more drawn out than usual.
Please leave a review
If you order a copy of The Tell-Me Tree please do take a moment to leave a short review online if you and your children or pupils enjoy it! And if there are links you feel I should add to the resources folder please feel free to email me – that document is easy to update.
I have a lot more news to share about The Secret Lake around foreign rights, but I’ll leave that for my next post! With so much now off my task list I plan to blog sooner rather than later next time!
Stay safe wherever you are – and happy reading with the little ones!
Here’s that link one more time.