😃 📚 All Things Bookish! 📚 😃

Hello there! Apologies for my absence. Half-term appeared and then whizzed by myself and my 3 tinkers like a whirling dervish! Now that we are back to some sort of normality and routine at home, I can crack on with all things ‘Whimsy Wood’ and book-related!

So, what’s been happening in the world of children’s books this week? Well, most importantly it’s National Bookstart Week. This is the BookTrust’s annual event, which aims to celebrate the joys and benefits of sharing books and stories every day. Each year, a theme is chosen to excite families and this year’s theme is ‘under the sea’!

The message behind National Bookstart Week is the importance and value of reading every day. Getting into the habit of sharing stories, books and rhymes with young children daily (even for just 10 minutes) shows them that reading is fun, while helping them bond with their family, understand their world and get ready for school and beyond. For more information about National Bookstart Week then please click on this link:- http://www.bookstart.org.uk/events/national-bookstart-week/

Moving onto news from the enchanting world of ‘Whimsy Wood’….well, I’m delighted to say that the formatting process for book 9, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar’, is now complete and it’s off on an adventure as it trundles through the proofing run. All very exciting! The release date for this 9th chocolatey instalment is July the 2nd (date for your diaries there!) and I can’t wait! 😃

The fabulous front cover of book 9, 'Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar'!

The fabulous front cover of book 9, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar’!

Not only has book 9 been receiving its finishing touches, but we had a wonderful ‘Whimsy Wood’ event on Saturday the 28th of May, at Hope Nature Centre in Southwick Country Park, Trowbridge, Wiltshire. My Whimsy Wood Series and I were invited to run a treasure hunt in their ‘Fairy Forest’ and whimsical craft activities. These ranged from ‘dressing up Dr Tustle the Tawny Owl in exotic feathers’, to creating ‘Skittle Spider from fir cones’ and many more activities in between!

The Whimsy Wood craft table ready to go at Hope Nature Centre's 10th birthday celebrations!

The Whimsy Wood craft table ready to go at Hope Nature Centre’s 10th birthday celebrations!

I was also asked to read the latest book, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’, to all the children, parents and grandparents that came along to Hope Nature Centre’s ‘Family Fun Day’, as part of their 10th birthday celebrations on May the 28th.

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Everyone seemed to really enjoy the story and there was some great audience participation during the repeated tongue-twister in this 8th Whimsy Wood children’s book! Thank you to Hope Nature Centre for inviting me and to all the children, parents and grandparents that came along. It was wonderful to meet you all! If you would like to book me for a Whimsy Wood event at your school, library or similar suitable venue, then please visit the official Whimsy Wood website :- www.whimsywood.co.uk

Well, that’s all from me for this week. I shall attempt to go and be creative elsewhere and wish you a wonderfully whimsical weekend. 😊📚✨

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.

😊 A Change Is As Good As A Holiday! 😊

Now, I don’t think I’m alone here, when as a writer I run out of exciting ideas for my ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s books, or I generally lose a bit of my writing spark. This week I’ve certainly been out of sorts and rather restless. Making myself sit down at the computer or my notepad to write, has been near-nigh impossible!

Goodness only knows why that’s been the case this week. Perhaps it’s been the ridiculously changeable weather that we’ve been experiencing here in the South-West of England? Or maybe I’ve just been having too many cups of coffee?! Whatever the reason, when I reach moments like this, the best thing I can do is to change what I’m doing. Shake things up a little! Rather like hitting ‘refresh’ at the top of your computer screen. So I stop forcing myself to write something (anything damn it!) and I go and do something else instead. Sounds rather like the “Why Don’t You!” theme tune, for those of you born and raised in Britain in the 70’s! 😉😄

Anyway, the ‘something else’ this week, has still been of a creative vein, but not in the literary sense. Instead, I’ve been honing my woodland craft skills, ready for the Whimsy Wood craft activities I’ve been asked to run, on Saturday May the 28th, at Hope Nature Centre in Southwick Country Park, Trowbridge, as part of their 10th birthday celebrations. There’ll be a ‘Whimsy Wood’ treasure hunt in the park’s ‘Fairy Forest’, a reading of ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’, as well as the craft activities. So, if you’re at a loose end, please do come along! 😊 http://www.hopenaturecentre.org.uk/newsite/index.php

Something else that took my mind off my restlessness this week, was reading this wonderful review of ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’, in the May/June issue of The Bath Parent magazine. I was delighted that they enjoyed this 8th ‘Whimsy Wood’ book and I thought that you might like to read what they had to say, so here’s their review below. 😊

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Review Of ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’ £4.99 www.abelapublishing.com

“In this day and age, it’s lovely to be reminded of an innocence and a gentleness that seems to have been retired to the bygone age of Enid Blyton, and this book very much has the feel of the Magic Faraway Tree to it. In this, the eighth book in The Whimsy Wood Series, we meet Fearne Fairy who lives in a moss-covered tree stump in the middle of Whimsy Wood. Fearne likes to sing, even if she’s not always very good at it, and fly, but is hopeless at landing!

Fearne Fairy will no doubt capture the imagination of young children as we join her and a couple of cheeky bunnies on their hunt for dandelion leaves to make Fearne’s special sore-head-fixing drink. Through Sarah HIll’s highly descriptive and lyrical writing style, we are transported into a beautiful wood where white wood anemones sparkle and shine like iced gems, and dew-filled daffodils sway in the breeze – it made me want to pull my wellies on and head off into the woods in search of a magical fairy glen. This book is not just fun and magical, it also inspires children to take an interest in nature as they read on through the series.” – www.thebathparent.co.uk

Well, on that whimsical note, I shall bid you farewell and wish you a wonderful weekend! Perhaps you’ll go searching for a magical fairy glen too? 😉

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.

✨😃 Happy National Limerick Day! 😃✨

Well hello there and a happy National Limerick Day to you! Today, being the 12th of May, is actually the birthday of English artist, illustrator, author and poet, Edward Lear (May 12, 1812 – Jan. 29, 1888). This amazingly talented fellow is known mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry, prose and limericks.

I’m rather fond of a nonsense poem and I’m sure you’re all familiar with Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl And The Pussy-cat’ and ‘The Jumblies’ poems, to name but a few. Instead, I thought I’d share one of his nonsense limericks, which I found in the book, ‘A Bit Of Nonsense’ by Edward Lear, that we happened to have at home:-

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National Limerick Day also celebrates the limerick poem itself of course. “Well, what’s one of those then?” I hear you ask! (I know. I have phenomenonal hearing!) A limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines usually have seven to ten syllables. The third and fourth lines only have to have five to seven syllables. Finally, a limerick should have a rhyme scheme of aabba, which means lines 1,2 and 5 rhyme and lines 3 and 4 rhyme. There endth today’s English lesson! 😃

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In celebration of National Limerick Day, I’ll leave you with a wee whimsical poem about blackberries, from ‘Posie Pixie And The Torn Tunic’, my 3rd ‘Whimsy Wood’ book. Yes, I know it’s not a limerick, or anywhere near Mr Lear’s literary standards, but it’s the best I can do! 😉

“Blackberries, blackberries on my mind,
I could eat you all the time.
In a pie with vanilla ice-cream,
Or hot with custard. Oh what a dream!
I could warm and squash you into jam,
Then spread you on everything, even ham!
Blackberries, blackberries, I love you,
All bumpy and shiny and purpley-blue.”

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.

🎤 😃 “Oh Happy Day!” 😃 🎤

Today is the sort of day that I have, “Oh Happy Day! Oh Happy Da-a-a-y!…..” sung by a gospel choir, (such as the one with Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2), buzzing around my head on some sort of jubilant loop! In the words of my current Whimsy Wood main character, ‘Fearne Fairy’, “Spring is here, the flowers are out. The birds are tweeting all about!” Indeed she’s certainly right! For where I live, in the beautiful rolling countryside of Wiltshire, (a place, that to me, is the nearest thing to Tolkien’s ‘Shire’ that I will ever find), the sun is certainly shining, birds are tweeting and bees are buzzing busily about.

In ‘Whimsy Wood’ itself, the day seems to be rather similar, with the primroses and celandines still currently in bloom and ‘Bristle Bumblebee’ is incredibly busy, flitting between these fabulous flowers.

Pretty Primroses And Charming Celandines in Whimsy Wood! 😊

Pretty Primroses And Charming Celandines in Whimsy Wood! 😊

‘Mrs Scarlet the squirrel’ has been feeling rather ‘continental’ this week, with the weather being so balmy, as she’s taken to closing ‘The Woodland Store’ between 12 and 2pm for an afternoon siesta! Well, why not indeed?! The young woodland folk have been dashing off to ‘Snapdragon Stream’, once their lessons at ‘Sycamore School’ have finished for the day; while ‘Mr Bilberry the blackbird’ (Whimsy Wood’s postman), has been catching forty winks in a sunny spot by the bluebell patch, between his morning and afternoon postal deliveries!

Not only have I also been enjoying the wonderful weather this week, but my ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s series and I, have been invited to be part of Southwick Country Park’s 10th birthday celebrations at the end of this month. This picturesque park is in Trowbridge, Wiltshire and I popped over there a few days ago, to see their new ‘story-telling chair’ and ‘fairy forest’. I’m delighted to say that on Saturday the 28th of May, I shall be running some Whimsy Wood craft activities and reading ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’, to the children that attend Southwick Country Park’s 10th birthday party! For more information, please see their Facebook page:- https://www.facebook.com/Southwick-Country-Park-265574983553533/?ref=ts&fref=ts

Finally, I’m over-joyed to tell you that ‘Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party’, book 4 in my Whimsy Wood children’s series, has been awarded the Children’s Literary Classics’ seal of approval and it’s now been forwarded to their international book awards! Fingers crossed! If you’d like to read their review of ‘Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party’, then please click here:- http://clcreviews.blogspot.co.uk

'Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party' is awarded the Children's Literary Classics' seal of approval! 😃 📚 ✨

‘Posie Pixie And The Fireworks Party’ is awarded the Children’s Literary Classics’ seal of approval! 😃 📚 ✨

Not only that but ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’, book 8 in my Whimsy Wood children’s series, has been entered into the ‘Purple Dragonfly Book Awards’! Fingers even more crossed! For more information about this prestigious award, please see this link :- http://www.fivestarpublications.com/bookcontest/pd_book_contest.html#enter

Well, instead of my usual farewell note, I shall leave you with this fabulous quote by Cicero. I hope you’re able to enjoy a little reading in your garden this weekend. 😊 📚 ✨

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With whimsical wishes,

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series

✨ The Power Of Imagination! ✨

Ok, so it may not come as a huge surprise to you, when I say that the untangible  commodity called ‘imagination’, that we all have, is my most favourite thing in the whole wide world. Your imagination, costs nothing to obtain and use. You can take it anywhere and everywhere and you can use it whenever you fancy. It also happens to be my ‘right-hand-man’ so to speak, when it comes to writing my ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s series.

Like anything that you use all the time, you can take such things for granted. I am no exception to this, as I sometimes forget how truly remarkable our imagination is. That is until I am invited into a primary school and interrogated about all things writing-related, by thirty-five keen and eager children!

A particular reminder of the power of imagination, happened to me yesterday afternoon. I was fortunate enough to be invited into Ogbourne C of E Primary School in Ogbourne, Wiltshire, to read ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’ (book 8 in my Whimsy Wood series), to all their key-stage 1 children. Some mums and dads also popped in to hear the story, which was lovely.

Within this whimsical story, there happens to be a tongue-twister of sorts…..’super special, sore-head fixing, dandelion drink’, is the particular tongue-twister in question and it works especially well when there is audience participation! I’m delighted to say, that the Ogbourne Primary School children did not disappoint with their efforts and enthusiasm, where this mouthful of a sentence was concerned!

Following the story, there came a round of questions from these bright and lively children. All of which happened to be related to writing books and my ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s series, which was a relief! Occasionally, children will throw you a curved ball question such as, “Why are you wearing that today Miss?” or, “My name’s Ben. Did you know that?” These random questions always tickle me and it’s this wonderfully free, almost left-field way of thinking, that I love about working with children!

Anyway, it was during this interrogation about writing and “What happens if you get stuck Miss?” kind of questions, that I fell into a very interesting discussion with a wee boy about badgers. Before we knew it and before everyone else’s very eyes, we had created a completely new character called ‘Boris Badger’, who was going to go on numerous adventures with Bear Grylls. They both eat grubs, so it seemed only sensible that they should be travelling companions! It was this nugget of mental gold. A snippet of shining brilliance, that was created in an instant and from absolutely nothing, that reminded me of how powerful and truly amazing our imagination is. 😊

On that note, I shall leave you with Albert Einstein’s thoughts on imagination and I shall wish you all a wonderfully whimsical and imaginative bank holiday weekend! 😉

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Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series

📚 An Interesting Week In The World Of Writing 📚

This week has seen the 400th celebration of the world’s most famous bard. This is of course William Shakespeare, without whom we wouldn’t have the huge array of plays, well-used sayings, or indeed vocabulary that we have today. My favourite Shakespeare play would have to be ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, so with this in mind, here’s a wonderfully whimsical and fairy-filled extract!

“Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.”

~ William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

On a much sadder note, you will also of course know about Victoria Wood’s tragic and untimely passing. 😢 She really was my much-loved heroine and a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet and gain an autograph from her wonderful self. I’d happened be in the Beatrix Potter tea-room in the Lake District with my husband and 2 young daughters, when low-and-behold she wandered in! Well, I almost choked on my toasted tea-cake with sheer excitement and adulation! Needless to say, she will be forever missed and in my eyes, she has always been a national treasure. May you rest in peace Victoria. Xxx

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Rest In Peace Victoria Wood xxx

As for news from the world of ‘Whimsy Wood’, well we’ve been busy little bees as usual. Work has started on the production of my 9th Whimsy Wood book, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Chocolate Caterpillar’, which is very exciting! This book is written for this current month of April, so you’ll read about Fearne’s ‘brilliant white bindweed umbrella’, vibrant violets, beautiful bluebells and ‘fairy foxgloves’ amongst other things!

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‘Fairy Foxgloves’ Growing In Whimsy Wood

You’ll also get to meet a new character, ‘Mustard the Magpie Moth Caterpillar’, who becomes Fearne’s best friend. Just as ‘Posie Pixie’ had her own ‘partner in crime’ shall we say in ‘Wibble Woodlouse’, it seemed only right to create a ‘side-kick’ for Fearne. 😉

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Meet ‘Mustard the Magpie Moth Caterpillar’!

Well, I’d better get on and be creative elsewhere, so I shall bid you farewell and wish you all a wonderfully whimsical weekend!

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.

😊 Bluebells And Bonnets! 😊

I bet you’ve been wondering what the Whimsy Wood folk have been up to over the Easter holidays? Well, along with the annual Easter egg hunt that always starts and ends at The Woodland Store, there’s been a spectacular Easter bonnet parade, which was held in the bluebell patch by Mrs Bramble’s burrow!

Below, you will see the bluebell archway that was the entrance to Whimsy Wood’s Easter bonnet parade! There are bluebells dotted throughout Whimsy Wood at this time of year, but they seem to grow in abundance in this spot by Mrs Bramble’s burrow! I’m guessing it’s something to do with all the carrot peelings that she digs back into the ground around her burrow?!

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The Entrance To Whimsy Wood’s Easter Bonnet Parade

There was such an amazing array of beautifully decorated hats, that Mrs Spottisdowne the sparrow struggled to pick a winner for the ‘Best Bonnet’ competition. In the end, she chose Winona Wren’s violet-themed extravaganza of a hat! This creation was so big, that Winona couldn’t fly with it on her head! Instead she had to instruct a team of ants to carry it along to the Easter bonnet parade for her!

So that’s got you up to speed with what’s been happening in Whimsy Wood. As for me, well, I’ll be off visiting another primary school this week. Burbage Primary School in Wiltshire, have invited me to visit their key-stage 1 children on Thursday April the 14th. This is part of their new topic for this term, titled ‘What’s At The Bottom Of My Garden?’ I’m really looking forward to meeting them all and I’ll let you know how this author visit goes. 😊 http://www.burbageprimary.org.uk/wilts/primary/burbage

Wishing you all a wonderfully whimsical week!

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.

An Egg-cellent Month!

When I look back at the start of this marvellous month of March, I can barely believe how much my ‘Whimsy Wood’ children’s series and I have achieved.

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We were invited to numerous primary schools and nurseries up and down the country, as part of book week. I was also asked to judge a children’s writing competition in the middle of the month, as shown in the top photo.

Book 8, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’, was launched on Saturday March the 19th.

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Front Cover Of ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’

http://abelapublishing.com/fearne-fairy-and-the-dandelion-clocks–sarah-hill–abela-publishing_p31235594.htm

Finally, the beautiful, brand new ‘Whimsy Wood’ website went live on Sunday March the 20th. With this in mind, please note that this will be the last post on the Whimsy Wood blog here. Next week, you’ll find the weekly Whimsy Wood blog posts over on this wonderfully whimsical website :- http://www.whimsywood.co.uk

Well, all that’s left to say is, I hope you all have a wonderfully whimsical, chocolatey, sunshine-filled Easter! 😃 🐣 🐰 💐

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.

📚 🌬 😃 Another Whirlwind Week For Whimsy Wood! 😃 🌬 📚

 

The wheels of ‘Whimsy Wood’ were back on the road again last week, as I was invited to visit Townsend Barn Nursery in Poulshot, Wiltshire, to read ‘Posie Pixie And The Pancakes’, book 7 in my Whimsy Wood children’s series.

Visiting Townsend Barn Nursery in Poulshot, Wiltshire.

Visiting Townsend Barn Nursery in Poulshot, Wiltshire.

The pre-school children certainly enjoyed meeting all the woodland folk that I brought with me and loved listening to Posie’s February adventure! They were able to take home Whimsy Wood bookmarks and information about book 8, ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’, which is due out this Saturday! 😃

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Talking of which, the first hardback and paperback copies of ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’ arrived last week! I know I’m biased, but they really do look absolutely beautiful! If you’d like to pre-order a copy you can do so here :- http://abelapublishing.com/preorder–fearne-fairy-and-the-dandelion-clocks–book-8-in-the-whimsy-wood-series_p31235401.htm

The 1st Hardback and Paperback Copies Of Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks!

The 1st Hardback And Paperback Copies Of Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks!

I was also invited to Hamp Academy in Bridgwater, Somerset last week, to run 2 creative writing workshops for their junior pupils. We had lots of fun, creating woodland story arcs in the form of game boards. The children were then able to write a short woodland story, using their story game boards. This tied in with a woodland visit the children had been on a few days before.

Finally, I was asked to judge a children’s writing competition run by The Little Hen House in Devizes, Wiltshire and the prize-giving party was last Saturday. The entries we’d received were really wonderful; full of imagination and creativity. Huge congratulations to the winners and indeed all the children who entered. 😃

Along with a treasure hunt around The Little Hen House, the children were treated to a ‘pin the beak on the chicken’ game and craft activities. Following some essential celebratory slices of cake, the children settled down to hear the first ever public reading of ‘Fearne Fairy And The Dandelion Clocks’!

I’m delighted to say that it went down a storm and the children headed home, happily carrying their party bags and prizes. Hopefully, they had wonderfully whimsical dreams that evening, of little hens getting up to mischief in Whimsy Wood with Fearne Fairy perhaps?! 😃

The mention of dreams has just reminded me, that I really should be finishing off the content required for Whimsy Wood’s new website, which will go live this Sunday! So, I shall bid you farewell and wish you a wonderfully whimsical week!

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.

💐 😃 Spring Is Just Around The Corner! 😃 💐

My goodness me! Everywhere I look, where I live in the wonderful county of Wiltshire, are signs and smells that Spring is just around the corner! It’s such an uplifting and exciting feeling! In and amongst the various things that I have been up to this past week, I happened to stumble across this piece of prose about the early signs of Spring, written by Howard Evans. I thought it was rather lovely, so here it is.

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Now, talking of ‘uplifting and exciting’ (as mentioned above), I think that would definitely describe last week for my Whimsy Wood Series and I. Last week happened to be Book Week, which reached its zenith last Thursday when it was World Book Day.

We had a stupendous week visiting Ayschoughfee Hall Primary School in Lincolnshire on the Monday, Easton Royal Academy in Wiltshire on Wednesday and OLOPS Catholic Primary School in Nottingham on Thursday. I delivered assemblies, woodland-related literacy activities and creative writing workshops to these schools’ pupils and we certainly had a blast!

My highlight would have to be the 2 creative writing workshops that I delivered on World Book Day, to the OLOPS Catholic Primary School children. I had never run a workshop for 60 KS2 children before and I was a little apprehensive about the number, but actually it went brilliantly! Once their school afternoon was finished, all 120 of their KS2 children had taken part in a Whimsy Wood creative writing workshop! Hurray!

In other Whimsy Wood news, a rather delightful plant is in bloom along ‘Snapdragon Stream’, that runs peacefully across the top right hand corner of Whimsy Wood. This intriguing plant in question is called the Butterbur (makes me think of Hogwarts!) and is beautiful when in flower :-

The Blooming Butterbur Goreing Alongside 'Snapdragon Stream'! 😃

The Blooming Butterbur Growing Alongside ‘Snapdragon Stream’! 😃

‘Florence Fox’ spotted it’s pretty pink flowers first and she reported this development to ‘Mrs Scarlet the squirrel’, who runs ‘The Woodland Store’. Mrs Scarlet was delighted to hear the news, as she likes to use its leaves to wrap up the store’s special acorn butter and its flowers make a charming cordial, which she sells in The Woodland Store.

On that note, I’m going to make myself a cuppa and crack on with the preparations for the 2 school visits my ‘Whimsy Wood’ team and I have this week.

Wishing you a wonderfully whimsical week!

Sarah Hill, children’s author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series.