A year of saying YES to EVERYTHING


This past year has been a whirlwind. It was my year of saying yes to EVERYTHING. So much has happened. I did the Penguin Random House WriteNow mentoring programme, signed with my amazing agent, Lydia Silver, found a critique group I can call home, signed a number of book deals, and wrote LOTS of very different things. *BREATHES*. ‘Yes to everything’ has worked out quite well. So far. But with 1st August (publication day for my very first book) just around the corner, I’ve realised that, going forward, I’m going to need a new approach.

‘Yes to everything’ is great when you’re starting out. At that stage, you take every tiny opportunity because you never know where it might lead you. My year of YES has opened so many doors. Possibly a few too many doors. Now, as the diary fills up (which is a happy problem to have!), I’ve decided to do things differently. See, I share a birthday with my book. So this u-turn is really a bit like a personal New Year’s resolution. Saying yes to everything just isn’t feasible anymore. Now, it has to be a ‘GREAT BIG YES’ - something so exciting, so irresistable. Otherwise, it’s a ‘no’.

Thanks to the WriteNow programme and my rock of an agent, I’ve had a very lucky start to publishing. I’ve worked my socks off - I still work my socks off - and I’m always learning, always looking to get better at what I do. But LUCK is so important and I’ve had truckloads of the stuff. I’ve found writing buddies, editors, and an agent who I really connect with. We work well together. And the timing has somehow been just right. It’s a tough industry but this luck piece has meant that I have lots of plates spinning.

It’s all very exciting but it also means I have to be careful not to overcommit. I need to do the best job I can for the people I’ve promised my work to. I need to do the best job I can for future readers. And I need to take care of myself so I’m on form for my young children. So I’ve revisted my wishlist of projects I’d love to do. I’ve tightened it up and left space for a few surprises. There are always surprises. I’ve had to let go of a few things too (for now). I’m actually surprisingly okay about that. As I step into a new chapter of my life, it feels like the right thing to do.

So here I am. Almost at the end of my year of yes. Moving into a year where it’s either a ‘GREAT BIG YES’ or it’s a ‘no’. Or maybe just a ‘not yet’.

Independent Children's Bookstores (and bookstores that champion children's books)

It’s Independent Bookshop Week and I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a big shoutout to independent children’s bookstores and other independent bookstores that champion children’s books. Thank you to everyone on Twitter who told me about their favourite spots! You are amazing.

I’m in the middle of various deadlines, summer term mayhem, and a countdown to an India trip but I’ll put this in a more sensible order at some point and hope to add some details over time. I’d love to SOMEHOW visit all of these over the next couple of years. I hope you’ll keep them in mind on your travels too and pop in when you can. Independent bookstores do some fantastic work in connecting books to readers and they’re a lifeline for underrepresented writers and illustrators whose books aren’t always very visible. But bookselling is a tough business and these bookstores need our support. So show them some love, will you?

THE ALLIGATOR’S MOUTH, Richmond (@alligatorsmouth)

2a Church Court, Richmond, TW9 1JL

PICKLED PEPPER BOOKS, Crouch End, London (@pickledbooks)

10 Middle Lane, Crouch End, London, N8 8PL

THE CHILDREN’S BOOKSHOP, Muswell Hill, London (@childrensbkshop)

29 Fortis Green Rd, London, N10 3HP

STOKE NEWINGTON BOOKSHOP, Stoke Newington (@StokeyBookshop)

159 Stoke Newington High Street, London, N16 0NY

WEST END LANE BOOKS, West Hampstead, London (@WELBooks)

277 West End Lane, London, NW6 1QS

THE BARNES BOOKSHOP, Barnes, London, (@BookshopBarnes)

60 Church Road, SW13 0DQ

MOON LANE BOOKS, London (@moonlaneink)

300 Stanstead Road, London SE23 1DE

SMALL PRINT BOOKS, Forest Hill, London (@Smallprintbks)

37 Davids Road, London, SE23 3EP

TALES ON MOON LANE, London (@talesonmoonlane)

25 Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9JU

ROUND TABLE BOOKS, Brixton, London (@BooksRound)

Brixton Village, 97 Granville Arcade, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PS

CLAPHAM BOOKS, Clapham, London (@claphambooks)

26 The Pavement, Clapham Common, SW4 0JA

NOMAD BOOKS, Fulham, London (@nomadbooks)

781 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5HA

SOUTH KENSINGTON BOOKS, South Kensington, London (@SouthKenBooks)

22 Thurloe St, London SW7 2LT

OTTIE AND THE BEA, London (@ottieandthebea)

12 Old Dover Road, Blackheath Royal Standard, SE3 7BT

KIRKDALE BOOKSHOP, Sydenham, London (@KirkdaleBooks)

272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, SE26 4RS

SWAN BOOKS, Upminster (@SwanBooks)

27 Corbets They Road, Upminster, RM14 2AR

REGENCY BOOKSHOP, Surbiton (@RegencyBookshop)

45 Victoria Road, Surbiton, KT6 4JL

CHENER BOOKS, East Dulwich (@chenerbooks)

14-16 Lordship Lane, London, SE22 8HN

BrOOK’s PINNER, Pinner (@BrOOKSPinner)

44-46 Bridge St, Pinner, Middlesex, HA5 3JF

GERRARDS CROSS BOOKS, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire (@gxbooks)

12a Packhorse Road, Gerrards Cross, SL9 7QE

THE BELL BOOKSHOP, Henley (@TheBellBookshop)

52 Bell Street, Henley-On-Thames, RG9 2BL

MOSTLY BOOKS, Abingdon (@MostlyReading)

36 Stert Street, Abingdon-on-Thames, OX14 3JP

THE BOOK HOUSE, Thame (@the_book_house)

93 High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3HJ

THE STORY MUSEUM, Oxford (@TheStoryMuseum)

Rochester House, 42 Pembroke St, Oxford OX1 1BP

THE WOODSTOCK BOOKSHOP, Woodstock (@WoodstockBooks)

23 Oxford Street, Woodstock, Oxon, OX20 1TH

JAFFE & NEALE, Chipping Norton (@Jaffeandneale)

1 Middle Row, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 5NH

BOOKS & INK BOOKSHOP, Banbury (@booksinkbook)

4 White Lion Walk, Banbury, OX16 5UD

HEFFERS, Cambridge (@childrenheffers)

20 Trinity Street, Cambridge, CB2 1TY

THE COBHAM BOOKSHOP, Surrey (@CobhamBookshop)

12A Anyards Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 2JZ

TOP HAT & TALES, Faversham (@FavHatshop)

110 West Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7JB

A BUNDLE OF BOOKS, Herne Bay, Kent (@ABundleofBooks)

6 Bank St, Herne Bay CT6 5EY

CHICKEN AND FROG, Brentwood, Essex (@chickenandfrog)

7 Security House, Ongar Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 9AT

HARTS BOOKS, Saffron Walden, Essex (@hartsbooks)

26 Kings Street, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1ES

WOODBRIDGE EMPORIUM, Woodbridge (@WoodbridgeEmpor)

66 Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1AL

ALDEBURGH BOOKSHOP, Aldeburgh, Suffolk (@AldeBooks)

42 High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk IP15 5AB

THE BOOK NOOK, Brighton (@booknookhove)

1st Avenue, Hove, BN3 2FL

BAGS OF BOOKS, Lewes (@BagsofBooks)

1 South St, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2BT

STEYNING BOOKSHOP, Steyning, West Sussex (@steyningbooks)

106 High Street, Steyning, West Sussex, BN44 3RD

OCTOBER BOOKS, Southampton (@OctoberBooks)

189 Portswood Rd, Southampton SO17 2NF

P&G WELLS, Winchester (@PGWells)

11 College Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, 9LZ

MR B’s EMPORIUM, Bath (@mrbsemporium)

14-15 John Street, Bath, BA1 2JL


43 Moorland Road, Bath, BA2 3PN


The Paragon, Bath, BA1 5LS

MAX MINERVAS, Bristol (@maxminervas)

39 North View, Bristol, BS6 7PY

STORYSMITH BOOKS, Bristol (@StorysmithBooks)

49 North Street, Bristol, BS3 1EN

WHITE HORSE BOOKSHOP, Marlborough (@whitehorsebooks)

136 High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1HW

BAILEY HILL BOOKSHOP, Somerset (@bailhill)

Fore Street, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7BG

HARBOUR BOOKSHOP, Devon (@HarbourBookshop)

2 Mill Street, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 1ED

DARTMOUTH BOOKSELLER, Devon (@Dartmouth_Books)

3 Foss Street, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 9DW


21 High Street, Crediton, EX17 3AH

FALMOUTH BOOKSELLER, Falmouth, Cornwall (@falmouthbooks)

21 Church Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3EG, UK

ST IVES BOOKSELLER, St Ives, Cornall (@stivesbooks)

2 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall. TR26 1AB

SPENCER THORN, Bude, Cornwall (@spencer_thorn)

Belle Vue, Bude, EX23 8JS

YELLOW-LIGHTED BOOKSHOPS, Tetbury and Nailsworth (@YLBookshop)

21 Church St, Tetbury, GL8 8JG and 17 Fountain St, Nailsworth, GL6 0BL

CORSHAM BOOKSHOP, Corsham, (@CorshamBookshop)

16 Martingate, Corsham, Wiltshire, SN13 0HL

OCTAVIA’S BOOKSHOP, Cirencester (@octaviabookshop)

24 Black Jack Street, Cirencester, GL7 2AA

LEDBURY BOOKS, Ledbury (@LedburyBooks)

20 High Street, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1DS

ROGANS BOOKS, Bedford (@RogansBooks)

26 Castle Lane, Bedford, MK40 3US


Church Lane, Alby, Norwich NR11 7HB

THE BOOK HIVE, Norwich (@bookhive)

53 London Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1HL

KENILWORTH BOOKS, Kenilworth, West Midlands (@KenilworthBook)

12 Talisman Square, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 1JB

WARWICK BOOKS, Warwick, West Midlands (@warwick_books)

24 Market Place, Warwick, CV34 4SL

BUTTON AND BEAR BOOKS, Shrewsbury (@buttonbearbooks)

3 Thornes Hall27/28 Castle StreetSHR SY1 2BQ

BOOKA BOOKSHOP, Owestry (@BookaBookshop)

26-28 Church Street, Owestry, Shropshire, SY11 2SP

LINGHAMS BOOKS, Wirral (@LinghamsBooks)

248 Telegraph Road, Heswall, Wirral, Merseyside, CH60 7SG

RHYME AND REASON, Sheffield (@RhymeAndReas)

681 Ecclesall Road, S11 8TG


33 Churchgate, Retford DN22 6PA

THE RABBIT HOLE, Brigg (@Therabbits21)

21 Market Place, Brigg, North Lincolnshire, DN208LD

SIMPLY BOOKS, Bramhall (@simplybooksNo1)

228 Moss Lane, Bramhall, Cheshire, SK7 1BD

READ. HOLMFIRTH, Holmfirth (@read_holmfirth)

Ground Floor, 41 Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth, HD9 3JH

CHILDREN’S BOOKSHOP, Huddersfield (@Lindley_Books)

37-39 Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield, HD3 3JF

THE BOOK CORNER, Halifax (@BookCornerHX)

The Piece Hall, HX1 1RE

THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP, Chapel Allerton, Leeds (@littlebookleeds)

47 Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3PD

IMAGINED THINGS, Harrogate (@ImaginedThings)

4 Westminster Arcade, Parliament Street, Harrogate, HG1 2RN

THE BOOK CASE, Hebden Bridge, W. Yorkshire (@bookcasehebden)

29 Market Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 6EU

THROUGH THE WARDROBE BOOKS, Mirfield, West Yorkshire (@WardrobeBooks)

2 Nettleton Road, Mirfield, W. Yorkshire, WF14 9AA


13 High Petergate, York, YO1 7EN

WHITE ROSE BOOKS, York (@whiterosebooks)

79-81 Market Place, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 1ET

BOOK CORNER, Saltburn, North Yorkshire (@BookCornerShop)

24 Milton Street, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 1DG

THE WHITBY BOOKSHOP, Whitby (@whitbybookshop)

88 Church Street, Whitby, YO22 4BH

DRAKE THE BOOKSHOP, Stockton-on-Tees (@drakebookshop)

27 Silver St, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18, 1SX

SEVEN STORIES, Newcastle Upon Tyne (@7StoriesBooks)

30 Lime Street, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ

FORUM BOOKS, Northumberland (@ForumBooks)

The Chapel, Market Place, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5AW

SAM READ BOOKS, Grasmere (@SReadBooks)

Broadgate House, Grasmere, Ambleside, LA22 9SY


19 Little Dockray, Penrith, CA11 7HL

THE NEW BOOKSHOP, Cockermouth, Cumbria (@TheNewBookshop)

42 - 44 Main Street, Cockermouth, CA13 9LQ

BOOKS CUMBRIA, Carlisle (@BookendsCarl)

19 Castle Street, Carlisle, CA3 8SY

BRIDGE BOOKSHOP, Isle of Man (@BookshopIOM)

Shore Road, Port Erin, IM9 6HL AND 62 Parliament Street, Ramsey, IM8 1AJ

THE EDINBURGH BOOKSHOP, Edinburgh (@EdinBookShop)

29 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DH

GOLDEN HARE BOOKS, Edinburgh (@GoldenHareBooks)

68 Stephen Street, Edinburgh, EH3 5AQ

MAINSTREET TRADING BOOKS AND CAFE, St Boswells (@mainstreethare)

Mainstreet, St Boswells, Scottish Borders, TD6 0AT

GRIFFIN BOOKS, Penarth, South Wales (@GriffinBooksUK)

9A Windsor Road, Penarth, South Wales, CF64 1JB

CHEPSTOW BOOKS, Chepstow (@ChepstowBooks)

13 St Mary Street, Chepstow NP16 5EW

BOOK-ISH, Wales (@Bookishcrick)

18 High Street, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1BD

BOOKS PAPER SCISSORS, Belfast (@BooksPaperSciss)

15 Stranmillis Rd, Belfast, BT9 5AF


83 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, BT7 1JL

Sneaky addition because they’re only online now but they’re doing some fantastic work so I couldn’t resist:

BIG GREEN BOOKSHOP, online (@Biggreenbooks)

Apologies for any broken links - I’ll review and fix soon. Typing in haste is always a bit dangerous but you’ll forgive me because I was so excited to see all these suggestions and wanted to get this list out into the world ASAP.

Any other favourites to add to the list? Let me know!

*Note to Bookstores - I wanted to put some photos in because WHO doesn’t love a peek into a bookstore(?!) but they ended up really S L O W I N G the website down (and me too!) so I’ve left them out for now!

Picture book picks for Empathy Day


Empathy is being able to put yourself in someone else’s place - seeing the world through their eyes, understanding and being sensitive to their feelings and experiences. It’s our amazing capacity to connect with someone else at a deep level no matter how different their life experiences may be.

Stories have such an important role to play. They let us inhabit new worlds. They break down barriers. They spark conversations and a shift in perspective that inspires acts of kindness. Picture books are a wonderful way to nurture empathy in children. In honour of Empathy Day on 11th June, here are some of my top picks. Brace yourself. It’s a LONG list.

Acceptance and self-acceptance

  • Beegu by Alex Deacon

  • The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

  • The New Neighbours

  • Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

  • How to be a Lion by Ed Vere

  • Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival

  • Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

  • We are all Wonders by R.J. Palacio

  • There’s Room for Everyone by Anahita Teymorian

Understanding what it’s like to be a refugee or to live in a world of conflict

  • The Day War Came by Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb

  • The Journey by Francesca Sanna

  • Tomorrow by Nadine Kaadan

Understanding loss and grief

  • If all the world were… by Z and Y

  • The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

  • Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies

Moments of kindness

  • Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee and Pascale Lemaître

  • The Last Chip by Duncan Beedie

  • KIND by Alison Green (various illustrators)

A shift in perspective - seeing the world through another’s eyes

  • Is it a Mermaid? by Candy Gourlay and Francesca Chessa

  • The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward

  • Space Tortoise by Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield

Understanding feelings

  • Feelings by Libby Walden and Richard Jones

  • In My Heart by Jo Witek and Christine Roussey

  • My Many Coloured Days by Dr Seuss (paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher)

  • Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival

here we are.jpg

Stories take so many forms. Some are made up but others are about the incredible world we live in. Children’s nonfiction can be invaluable in inspiring and encouraging empathy. Books like Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers are a celebration of the world in all its richness - there’s a beautiful, inclusive spread in that book with people from all over and from all walks of life. Picture book biographies like the Little People, Big Dreams books take us through the lives of so many wonderful people. We can step into their shoes and share their journeys, their dreams, and their hopes. Books like these shine a light on worlds we may never experience but which we can still connect to. They can still move us. And they can still inspire us to make a difference in this world in whatever small way we can.

There are so many beautiful pictures books out there today - this is really just a starting point. I’d love to hear which ones you’d add to the list! In the meantime, click here to find out more about Empathy Day, this year’s Empathy blog tour, and the Empathy Lab’s top picks for children’s books (picture books and beyond!).

NEWS! First peek at How To Be Extraordinary

EXCITING DELIVERY - an early copy of How To Be Extraordinary written by me and illustrated by Annabel Tempest! My heart stopped when I opened the package. The artwork was stunning in the PDF version I saw but it’s even more glorious in real life! Annabel really is the perfect person to bring the stories of these 15 incredible people to life. I’m so lucky to have been partnered with her. The WHOLE TEAM in fact. From my amazing editor Emily Lunn and the genius of a designer that is Steph Jones to Wendy Shakespeare and her editorial team at Puffin - this is my DREAM TEAM right here. I can’t believe how quickly we managed to put this book together. So proud of us all!

Apologies for the SPEED at which I’m talking in this video. I could barely contain myself. I promise to S L O W down next time.