December update

Happy holidays, all! It’s freezing and snowy here in London, but the sun is shining so it’s looking beautiful out there. I hope you are all keeping warm! I’m a little late with this update but wanted to post before the year is out — so here goes! (And if you’re still in need of a few extra presents, there may be something here for you! 😊)

But first, I hope you enjoy this image, snapped in my garden earlier this week. I just love how the frost decorates the shrubs and trees!

Frost covered shrub with pink flower
From my garden earlier this week

The Christmas Tree Wish

If you’re still looking for something for the little ones, this heartwarming tale for ages 3-6 about hope and friendship is still as popular as ever! Gardners UK wholesalers have just run out so getting it from local bookshops will be tricky. However, the paperback is available on Amazon worldwide for delivery before Christmas. (If you enjoy sharing books on your tablet/ device with your children/grandchildren, the story is also available as an eBook with pop-up text via the link above.)

Christmas tree characters in a snowy scene beside the book 'The Christmas Tree Wish' by Karen Inglis and Anne Swift
Paperback and eBook available on Amazon

Eeek! The Runaway Alien makeover (free flip-book sample below!)

A new edition of Eeek! The Runaway Alien (the soccer-mad alien who came to Earth for the World Cup) is now out. It was long overdue a makeover and I’m delighted with the work of illustrator and layout artist, Rachel Lawston. I hope you enjoy! With the World Cup tournament in everyone’s minds (win or lose!), what better choice of stocking filler for 7-10 year-olds who love football (aka soccer) and humour! Described as ‘Laugh-out-loud funny!’ by LoveReading4KidsUK, Eeek! is still a firm favourite with both boys and girls. There’s an hilarious twist in Eeek! btw, but don’t tell the kids!

book cover with boy and football looking up at alien wearing a football scarf - the front cover of Eeek! The Runaway Alien by Karen Inglis

Tap or click here to read Chapters 1-3 of Eeek! as a flipbook on any device The flipbook sample comes complete with page-turning sounds!

Collage of images of alien, girl in catsuit outfit and young boy Charlie, from Eeek! the Runaway Alien chapter book

I’d love to know what your children think of the new design; please do email me to let me know!

Return to the Secret Lake audiobook is here!

The audiobook of Return to the Secret Lake came out this autumn. Whereas I narrated The Secret Lake, I knew this was a job for a professional — the sequel comes in at twice the length of book one and has a much larger character cast, which would have been beyond my skills! After listening to around 15 audition samples, I chose British voice actor Eilidh Beaton. Her ability to assume the voices of so many different characters is astonishing, and I am in awe of how she managed to put in so many hours over a relatively short period and still sound so fresh. Eilidh has over 100 audiobooks to her name, so that probably explain things! Click or tap the image or the link below it to hear a free sample over on Amazon.

silhouette of young girl at night by a gate in woodland garden - the front cover of Return to the Secret Lake Audiobook by Karen Inglis
Click to hear a free sample on Amazon

Click this link or the image to hear a free sample on Amazon. The excerpt is the scene in past time where Emma’s best friend Lucy is sneaking out of her house in the middle of the night to try to find the time tunnel and get help for Emma, who is dangerously ill.

Thank you for your feedback! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

At the time of writing I’ve sold close to 9,000 copies of Return to the Secret Lake in the English language and the story has received nearly 400 ratings/reviews on Amazon with 83% 5-Star. This is truly heartwarming, especially as it was a rather nerve-wracking book to write following on from the success of book one! Children and adults say they especially love the mix of real history with a page-turning plot.

I am extremely grateful that no one so far has inadvertently included spoilers in their reviews — those who have read the book will know what I mean by this!

The German edition has also been extremely well received, and I’ve also just sold the Czech rights to Grada Publishing, whose readers loved book one!

Front cover of the German Edition of Return to the Secret Lake - girl standing by a gate at night

If you’ve bought and enjoyed Return to the Secret Lake, or its German translation, please do take a moment to leave a short review online as it will help other families find the story. Thank you!

The Secret Lake: illustrated Spanish edition coming soon!

In other exciting news, over the summer a major Spanish publisher bought the rights to The Secret Lake and is creating a colour illustrated version, which I hope will be out in 2023. I even got to choose from their final shortlist of illustrators, and have since been commenting on her pencil illustrations, which are amazing! I can’t wait to share the final result with you once it’s out! Watch this space 😊.

Spanish flag with inset image of girl by lake and a copy of The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis

Books from past time…

Earlier this year, my husband’s aunt died at the incredible age of 103. Before her house was sold, her daughter asked if I’d like to take a look through her collection of children’s books. Of course, I couldn’t resist. Below is a small sample of those I brought home — I’m sure that some older readers here will recognise at least some of them. The Water Babies is an 1899 Edition!

Another interesting fact is that Anne Logue (my husband’s aunt who owned these books) was married to Valentine Logue, son of Lionel Logue who was speech and language therapist to King George VI, and a main character portrayed in the film The King’s Speech. She said that her husband said that the somewhat downtrodden family apartment featured in the film was not accurate at all! The Logues apparently lived in a far grander property in Bolton Gardens, which is a very upmarket part of London!

Would you like a school visit?

Before I go, just to say please do get in touch or look at the school visits page here on my website if you think your child’s primary/prep/elementary school would like an in-person or virtual visit. For older pupils or secondary schools I can run talks on how books get made and writing and publishing in the digital age. I am mostly booked on World Book Day week 2023, but do still have a couple of slots for Zoom visits —and plenty of availability at other times for in-person or Zoom visits.

Classroom with pupils with hands up. Karen Inglis children's author at front of class
The Harrodian School July 2022 — questions about Return to the Secret Lake

That’s it for now. I’ll be in touch again in the new year. In the meantime, for everyone in the northern hemisphere, I hope you are able to find imaginative ways to stay warm without breaking the bank!

Happy reading in the meantime! 📚 😊

Karen

PS Reminder: if you/ your pupils or children have read Return to the Secret Lake or any of my other books it would be wonderful if you could take a moment to leave a short review online if you’ve not yet done so. Every little helps spread the word. Thank you!

⭐ Book Launch ⭐ Return to the Secret Lake 📚 🚣

Official launch date 8th March 2022

I’m thrilled to announce that Return to the Secret Lake is now out and available to order after many many requests from readers over the years!

In this page-turning sequel to The Secret Lake we see Lucy come forward in time in search of a cure for Emma who has fallen dangerously ill. Of course, things are never straightforward where time tunnels and magical moles are concerned — and so unfolds a thrilling tale of time travel, rekindled friendships and new threats that no one could have foreseen.

Today is International Women’s Day, and I’ve chosen to coincide the book’s official launch with this date as half of the story is set in early 1900s London, when the Suffragette movement was extremely active. The movement provides a gentle backdrop in a few of the scenes, which I know young advance readers have found intriguing alongside other historical contexts and events. Also resonating with the theme of strong females is the bravery and resourcefulness shown by both Stella and Hannah from the present, and Lucy and others from the past as they risk everything to help Emma .

The story is not only about the girls, however — we also have Tom and Jack to root for as unexpected events unfold!

Researching Edwardian London

Below is a slide I shared at my World Book Day school visits here in the UK last week about my research into Edwardian London. Stella and Tom spend far more time in this period in Book Two — including venturing out into town — so I wanted to feel, see and breathe the atmosphere through their eyes.

Extract from my World Book Day week school talk

What I loved about this research was diverting off in different directions and discovering little ‘aha’ moments which I knew needed to be in the story in some way, such as the craze of ‘rinking’ in Edwardian time (rollerskating in dedicated rollerskating rinks for those who could afford it), and bylaws being demanded by some to outlaw children rollerskating on pavements. Those children tended to come from poorer backgrounds who couldn’t afford to use the rinks, and I was pleased when reading Hansard reports from 1910-11 to see the young Winston Churchill standing up for them.

It’s amazing how many rabbit holes one can go down. But it was worth the many many hours — and, I hope, has helped ensure that the twists and turns of the story play out in contexts authentic to that time. I shall be writing separately about this in due course when preparing teaching resources. 😊

Early feedback

As any author will tell you, it’s always nerve-wracking launching a new book. Happily, the members of my small team of advance readers have given the story a very strong thumbs up. In the mix were children, parents (including a nurse), two teachers, two grandmothers and a couple of children’s authors.

You’ll find a few early reviews over on Amazon but here are a few more snippets sent to me directly:

“This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! Each chapter brings new challenges, which the children face with determination and mastermind ideas. I loved their quick thinking and wittiness. But what stood out most was how much they cared for and looked out for each other.” Méabh ~ Aged 11 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Immerses the reader in the early 1900s and is really thought provoking for middle-grade readers. A great fictional adventure and an excellent choice for connecting history with reading for pleasure.” ~ Michelle Gilbert, Primary teacher and Year 4 Book Club lead ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I loved that there were so many mysteries mixed in with real history! One of the longest books I’ve read and I finished it in 4 days!” ~ Brooke, Aged 10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read more reviews or buy Return to the Secret Lake on Amazon

Visit BookMonster.ie to watch Méabh’s advance reader review

Click to watch BookMonster’s full review of Return to the Secret Lake on YouTube — this is a great channel for your children to subscribe to if they love middle-grade books btw:)

Where to buy

The print book is also available to order from all other online stores or via your high street bookshop. Signed copies will be in Barnes Bookshop from next week. Delivery times to other bookshops may vary in the first couple of weeks.

My next task is to commission a narrator for the audiobook. 😊

That’s if for now. I’m still catching up on piles of admin having caught Covid last weekend, which threw out many of my book launch plans and has left me making preparations up to the wire!

Still, such challenges pale into insignificance when compared with what is being faced by the citizens of Ukraine. I’m sure you will stand with me in hoping for a miracle and a swift resolution to this heartbreaking situation, even though that seems far off as I write.

Bye for now, Karen

PS: If you decide to buy Return to the Secret Lake, please do take a moment to leave a short review if you / your children enjoy it! Thank you!

The Secret Lake sequel 📚 | Christmas gift ideas | more! 🎄

Hello from a cold and crisp London, where the Christmas season is upon us. I hope your holiday season plans are well underway and that you’re all staying safe.

The Secret Lake: Sequel 😊

After much plotting and planning, and following many requests from children and adults, I’ve had my head down for the last three months writing the sequel to my bestselling middle grade novel The Secret Lake,

I’m thrilled to say that I finished editing the final draft two days ago (you can see the printout on my desk below!) and it is now with a small number of beta readers before, no doubt, further polishing, then on to my professional editor. Coming in at 50,000 words it will be approximately twice the length of the first book.

As you have guessed, writing a children’s book takes a lot of time, and effort — children are always surprised when I tell them just how long! Luckily this time around I had an outline plan before I started, which made life a lot easier than first time around when I had no plan and went round in circles with the plot for many many months. I do not recommend writing this way!

The printout of The Secret Lake 2 first final draft ✍🏻 📚

Why did it take so long to write The Secret Lake sequel?

Many children and adults have asked me over the last few years why I hadn’t written a sequel. The reason is that I had promised myself I would only ever do so if I thought any new story would be as magical as the first. Also, I tend to have to wait for stories to come to me… and that can take time! That apart, with so many other projects to juggle, it had been difficult to sit down and find the time and space I needed in order to let my imagination run wild, then plan and research. This summer, I finally had that time.

Going back and spending time with the original characters — and meeting a couple of new ones — has been an absolute joy, with scenes unfolding that I hadn’t planned, and new characters popping up unannounced, as happened the first time around!

I’m hoping for a release date in spring 2022 and, of course, will keep you updated via this newsletter. In the meantime, if you’d like to apply to join my advance reader team to help make the launch a success, please email me via my contact page with the subject line ‘The Secret Lake 2’ and I will send you details of how it works closer to the time.

Teachers — I will be creating some interesting lesson plans to go with the book. More on this in a later newsletter! 😊

In other Secret Lake news, I have just sold foreign rights to Romania, meaning it will soon be in translation in nine languages!

Also, I couldn’t resist the gorgeous little mole, seen sitting on the shelf in the first image above. I found him in one of the gift shops where I live in Barnes village and couldn’t leave without him! As readers of The Secret Lake know, moles are integral to the magic of the story. ❤️


The Christmas Tree Wish: A heartwarming tale for ages 3-6 🌲

Back to the holiday season — if you’re looking for an extra special gift for your younger children or grandchildren, please do take a look at The Christmas Tree Wish.

A heartwarming tale — with links to free colouring sheets

This heartwarming tale about hope, friendship and being different was inspired by a small, bedraggled Christmas tree I saw one dark and wet Christmas Eve, unsold and looking very lonely. As is usually the case with my stories, I couldn’t get this little fellow out of my head, and knew I had to give him a happy ending!

The Christmas Tree Wish comes with links to free downloadable colouring sheets of the tree characters to keep children or grandchildren occupied in the run-up to Christmas, using Anne Swift’s stunning illustrations. Hopefully, the reviews speak or themselves! 😊 🌲

Click or tap below to watch a short video about The Christmas Tee Wish.

Tap to play 🙂

If you prefer to share picture books on an iPad, the eBook is free on Kindle Unlimited worldwide. Also, Amazon UK has just reduced it to 0.99p for December.

The Tell-Me Tree — continued praise from teachers and parents ❤️

Thank you so much to all of you who have bought The Tell-Me Tree and shared with me how it has touched children’s lives, or how you have been using it in schools to help children open up about feelings. Below are a few examples. I’m also bowled over that a simple Facebook promotion has been shared and commented on over 1,000 times!

With the uncertainties all of our children are living with these days, The Tell-Me Tree aims to help ease worries through encouraging a habit of regularly talking about feelings, whether happy, sad or anywhere in between.

Pupils getting into the habit of sharing feelings at schools using The Tell-Me Tree

This story and activity book comes with free download templates to help children draw their own Tell-Me Trees and copies of activity sheets from inside the book to encourage them to draw or write about how they are feeling as often as they would like. Available everywhere online, or via your local bookshop or your school ‘s usual channels.

If you have used The Tell-Me Tree and found it useful please feel free to send me pictures, or tag me if you post about it and I will share.

You can read about the background to The Tell-Me Tree here


📚 Eeek! The Runaway Alien discounted to £3.95! ⚽ 
(RRP £6.99)

Finally, a quick heads-up for my UK followers looking for stocking fillers to let you know that Amazon UK has just discounted Eeek! The Runaway Alien to £3.55 (RRP is £6.99).

Eeek! is perfect for girls or boys aged 7-10 looking for a fast and fun read, and a good laugh! (It’s also available as an audiobook and eBook.)

It was voted book of the month by LoveReading4Kids UK at launch, and favourite book club read three years in a row in one London primary school, and now comes with a shiny new cover! It is also fantastic for reluctant readers, and comes with fun black and white illustrations throughout. 😊 👽

A fun, fast-paced read for ages 7-10 — loved by parents too!

That’s it for now. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to providing you with updates on The Secret Lake 2 soon 😊 .

With very best wishes,

Karen

PS: Remember, if you’d like to know more about joining my launch team for The Secret Lake 2, please email me via my contact page with ‘The Secret Lake 2’ as the subject line, and I will send you further details in due course.

PPS: Remember, if you like to share picture books on an iPad with little ones, The Christmas Tree Wish eBook is free on Kindle Unlimited worldwide. Also, Amazon UK has just reduced it to 0.99p for December. 🌲

Autumn update 🍁 The Tell-Me Tree feedback, Eeek! audibook, new projects…

It’s September and back-to-school week here in the UK. Like everyone, I’m keeping fingers crossed that pupils and students will be able resume their school and uni life with as little interruption as possible in the coming months. If you’re farther afield with children studying from home, I do hope you are all managing in this challenging time.

I have a few updates below which I hope you’ll enjoy. These include:

  • Early feedback from parents and teachers on The Tell-Me Tree
  • A new, fabulously narrated audiobook of Eeek! The Runaway Alien – out soon and with a free coupon offer
  • A sneak peek of my Der verborgene See, the upcoming German edition of The Secret Lake, and plans for a new picture book for next year

The Tell-Me Tree: Your Feedback

I firstly wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to write to me and/or leave a review of The Tell-Me Tree online. Early sales have exceeded expectations, especially here in the UK where it has been ranking in the top 2,000 or so on Amazon in the last few weeks. I’ve also seen healthy orders for non-Amazon sales (via bookshops or school orders), which is a lovely surprise!

Most importantly, however, I have been bowled over by the responses from parents and teachers, and in particular wanted to mention two emails I received. The first is from a parent, Nicola Roberts, from Kent, who has given me permission to share the photos and details you will find below. The second is from a teacher who is planning to use The Tell-Me Tree as part of her back-to-school activities.

Nicola’s message to me is one I will treasure for years to come and I hope you understand why. Her seven year-old daughter Lucy, seen below, has cerebral palsy, development delays and breathing difficulties caused by craniosynostosis (or “cranio”), a condition where the skull fuses too early, meaning that while the brain grows the skull cannot. Sadly, this resulted in a stroke for Lucy when she was just a year old.

little girl reading The Tell-Me Tree by Karen Inglis
Lucy at her gait analysis, and with big sister Edie, aged 10, who is reading to her 🙂

Nicola explained that, although it hasn’t been officially diagnosed, Lucy possesses a lot of the traits of autism, including severe anxiety both at home and at school. “At school she finds it difficult to express her feelings and therefore just bursts into tears or has a meltdown if she doesn’t understand something or cannot convey how she feels. I think it [The Tell-Me Tree] will help her immensely when she starts back. We have read it several times over and I can honestly say this is the first book she hasn’t got bored with halfway through. We adore everything about it, from the concept to the beautiful illustrations and the rhyming aspect. I had a lump in my throat when I first read it because it could’ve been written for Lucy.

“When Lucy goes back to school, I’m going to buy some copies for them, both to reiterate the meaning to Lucy and to help other children. I have five book cases filled with children’s books and I’m being totally honest when I say it’s the best book we’ve ever read.”

Nicola is keen to educate other parents and children about Lucy’s condition and, as I say, has given permission for me to share the photos above. A couple are from when she recently went to Guy’s and Thomas’ Hospital for her regular gait analysis test, to see whether she will need an operation to stretch her leg muscles. Apparently they took the book with them on the train to help keep her calm ahead of the visit. As you can see, Lucy is quite a character! Nicola says she is going to try and find a soft toy tree for Lucy to take to school which can be her very own portable tell-me tree. I am humbled and thrilled that The Tell-Me Tree has been of such help to Lucy, and wish her all the luck and love in the world as she grows up! I’m also thankful to every parent who has let me know how the book has helped their children express their feelings.

You can learn more about craniosynostosis here.

Teacher feedback

I was also extremely touched by an email received from a primary school teacher in Leicester who was downloading the various activity sheets and let me know that she will be using the book in the school grounds where they are lucky to have several mature trees. She plans to have activities based around the book under the trees, with the aim of encouraging children to talk, write or draw about how they are feeling after the long break from school.

Although I conceived The Tell-Me Tree before the pandemic, it has clearly resonated with many families and teachers in the context of what everyone has been through in the last few months and I am humbled and delighted if it can serve to help. Thank you all for your feedback and please do feel free to share any photos of The Tell-Me Tree in action and I will post them on my social media if you are happy for me to do so. Oh – if you’ve bought but not yet reviewed The Tell-Me Tree, would you be able to take a moment to do so? Thank you very much!

Eeek! The Runaway Alien

😊  👽 Hear a free sample from the upcoming audiobook! 👽 😊

Described as ‘Laugh-out-loud funny’ by LoveReading4KidsUK, Eeek!, my second most popular book for older ones (ages 7-10) after The Secret Lake, continues to be a firm favourite with reluctant and keen readers alike – and with both boys and girls. (It has a great twist, but don’t tell the kids!)

Image of alien with football spinning on finger - from Eeek! The Runaway Alien by Karen Inglis
Due out mid September 2020

I’ve long wanted to produce the audiobook of Eeek! and am thrilled so say this has finally happened and it should be available from mid September. The narrator, voiceover artist Ciaran Saward (pronounced SWORD), offers up a wonderful array of human and alien voices! You can listen to an excerpt from Chapter 2 over on my author website here. I hope that you or your children/pupils enjoy the excerpt.

*Offer: When the audiobook goes live I shall be giving away 10 free audible codes. Sign up to my email list to be in with a chance to enter the draw in the next couple of weeks.*

The Secret Lake – German edition

I have just approved the German edition of The Secret Lake, for which I have project managed the translation. Below is an early reveal of the front cover 😊.  The title ‘Der verborgene See’ translates as ‘The Hidden Lake’. My German translator and editor both felt this to be a more apt choice for the German language and I do like the ring it has, I must say!

I also recently received two copies of the Russian Edition – to see a fun short flick-through, pop over to my instagram account or facebook page. The Secret Lake is also due out in Turkish in October and in Czech in March 2021. It warms my heart that this magical story, that went through so many drafts, and about which I had so many doubts when sitting alone writing it at the top of the house, is now capturing children’s imaginations around the world! 

Der verborgene See - The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis (German edition)

🌺  Stop Press: I have plans afoot for a special colour illustrated hardback edition of The Secret Lake and will give updates on this in my next blog post. Watch this space! 🌺  The early concept illustrations are beautiful. 😊

A new picture book next year…

Lastly, I’m in the early stages of formulating a new picture book for next year and, again, shall be working with Anne Swift – illustrator for The Tell-Me Tree and The Christmas Tree Wish.  I can’t say much more other than that it will not feature trees this time around 🙂 There might be a cat though! 😼  I’ll provide more updates on this in the coming months.

That’s it for now. Stay safe and I’ll be in touch as soon as the free promo codes for Eeek’s audiobook are available in mid September or so. In the meantime, I hope that back-to-school goes smoothly for your family.

Quick reminder: If you buy or have already bought The Tell-Me Tree, it would mean a lot to me if you could find a moment to leave a short review online as this will help other parents and teachers find it.

Thank you!

Festivals, book offers, hedgehogs and more – why I love May!

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.

Screen Shot 2019-05-03 at 08.51.37
Barnes now has London’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival – don’t miss!

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.

Karen Inglis standing in front of Still Pond lake with pin azaleis
Still Pond last Sunday 28th April – The Inspiration for The Secret Lake

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.

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!

image of a book and two cards
This beautiful hand-drawn postcard is from a Secret Lake fan in Richmond, Texas

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.

hand written letters arranged with a copy of The Secret Lake children's book
Wonderful handwriting – and lots of requests for a sequel to The Secret Lake!

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!

View Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog on Amazon here.

You can find out more about helping hedgehogs on the Hedgehog Preservation Society website.

FFHH Global print link Affiliate

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,

Karen

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!

The Secret Lake revisits Notting Hill

I’ve done quite a few school visits in recent weeks – but one in particular had special significance for me. This was a day spent at Norland Place School in Notting Hill – the area in London that first inspired the story of my time travel adventure, The Secret Lake.

Norland Place School - Notting Hill
Norland Place School – Notting Hill

If you’re not familiar with Notting Hill, much of this part of west London is made up of tall and elegant terraced Victorian houses that back onto vast communal gardens for the owners’ shared use. (If you’ve seen the film ‘Notting Hill’ with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant you’ll know what I’m talking about – I think the pair hop over a communal garden fence at one stage to steal time in one of the gardens!)

View back to houses from communal gardens - Notting Hill
Notting Hill houses – most are now apartments

Most of the Notting Hill communal garden houses have now been converted into apartments. Those on the ground floor have direct access to the gardens from their own patio gardens – other residents have a key for access via a separate gate.

Patio garden within a communal garden
Ground floor apartments have patio gardens

Inspiration for The Secret Lake

The Secret Lake came about after some friends moved to one of these Notting Hill apartments many years ago when our children were around age five and seven. The moment we walked out into the gardens I was struck by their magical atmosphere. The sound of twigs cracking underfoot echoed all around as children raced across the woodland lawns playing chase, or hide and seek, while others (often younger) huddled inside bushes, making secret dens.

Exploring the gardens and seeing these children lost in their imaginary worlds brought back memories of my own childhood and the freedom I had growing up in the Continue reading “The Secret Lake revisits Notting Hill”

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