Last year, I was delighted to speak about The Finding of Freddie Perkins at Ilkley’s literature festival. This year I’m even happier to be sharing an abridged preview of an as yet unpublished short story for all ages – The Blossom-Maker – with the whole town. And how? Through a story window! Yes, for a limited time only here it is…
And yes, he will be able to answer all these Questions for book groups on The Finding of Freddie Perkins that Liz has put together! Unlike Liz… who has to admit that she was surprised to see macaroni cheese alongside the more authentically Scottish themed food at the launch party for the book – and had to be reminded it was Freddie’s favourite food!
Easter is behind us but rabbits are still a constant focus in my house. There’s the dog called Rabbit of course. But now there’s a new one. An actual, official rabbit called Mr Bunley Hopkins who has come to live with us in Ilkley today. Here he is (with a bonus photo of the original Rabbit to ensure there is no jealousy between them as they get to know each other)…
It may simply be a Beatrix Potter style affectation, but my pets (and often other people’s) are an intrinsic part of what inspires me to write children’s stories.
(As are rabbits in general come to think of it… I have my own story with them which I am always more than happy to relate to anyone who asks… and often to people who don’t.)
This rabbit – Mr Hopkins that is – is named after my favourite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins. If you haven’t read any of his writing – Manley Hopkins that is – you’re in for a treat. If he’s an old friend of yours, you’ll understand why I’m a fan.
Rabbits don’t feature in the poet Hopkins’ writing… but I’m not the only author to find their look, movement and personalities inspiring.
Here are some of my favourite rabbity-reads… you might like to explore them too:
The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane – Kate DiCamillo
And of course… all The Tales of Beatrix Potter are incomparably magical. But especially the ones which feature bunnies!
I’m just about to read Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire which I understand to have been translated from the original ‘Rabbit’ Mrs. Bunny used by Polly Horvath. I’ll let you know if it gets a rave review from me and my rodents soon…
Right, I’m off to check in on how Mr Hopkins is settling in.
Freddie’s first literature festival appearance was a great success… yesterday’s event was a sellout and the talk on Loss and Hope in Children’s books went to time and to plan…. as always, what really made the event a success though was the people in the room – their engagement with the subject and their helpful comments and questions. It was a great privilege to be joined by Headmistresses, teachers and parents – as well as those interested in children’s literature – as we unpacked the therapeutic and educational power of narrative with Freddie’s help.
Thanks to The Grove Bookshop, Ilkley for their continued support… it was great to have the book sales all taken care of.
It’s less than three weeks to go until Liz’s event at The Ilkley Literature Festival. She will be reading extracts from The Finding of Freddie Perkins, discussing the educational and therapeutic benefits of children’s fiction with reference to some of her favourite classics and taking questions. Come to All Saints Primary School at 2:30pm for this hour long event on Sunday 5 October… and book in advance to avoid missing out on ‘Loss and Hope in Children’s Books’.
Thanks to The Grove Bookshop, Ilkley, copies of The Finding of Freddie Perkins will be available to buy at this event.
Liz is delighted to be speaking at the Ilkley Literature Festival. Come along to All Saints’ Primary School to hear her explore Loss and Hope in Children’s Books on 6 October at 2:30pm.
The hour long event will include readings from The Finding of Freddie Perkins, reflections on classic childrens’ books which explore difficult themes and how they can help children process loss, and plenty of time for questions and discussion for parents.
Liz is looking forward to getting the chance to talk about some of her own childhood favourites and the impact they had on her, including amongst others The Secret Garden and A Little Princess (Hodgson Burnett), The Railway Children (Nesbit) and C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia alongside more modern classics in the making.
Find out more details about the event here on the festival’s website.
The St Albans and Harpenden Review published an article about Freddie’s St Albans connection yesterday. In it, I’m quoted paying tribute to one of my A level English teachers in my hometown – Mrs Asher… I meant every word. What an amazing gift it is to receive encouragement and support from truly excellent teachers and mentors…
It was a good day to be looking back to this, because in the evening I judged the stories submitted by 8 and 9 year olds closer to my current hometown to The Grove Bookshop’s story writing competition. I hope my words of encouragement to the winners and runners up will fuel them to keep writing too.
This morning I joked to a friend that a writer’s life is more grammar than glamour! But for me there is a huge privilege and fulfilment involved in everything I create – whether fiction or not. The joy comes in the inspiration – a connection with the beauty of an idea that then goes on to connect other people to the things that matter most.