My Blog


Writing can be lonely. Happily, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) offers a great support network, including critique groups.

My own critique group is almost four years old, so we all know each other well. More or less monthly we gather in a local bar, rubbing shoulders to discuss chunks of our work. We use constructive criticism and positive feedback in equal measure, and all our writing benefits. I’ve learned so much from my fellow critiquers, past and present.

Occasionally, like now, we have a tangible achievement to celebrate. Just in time for Christmas our friend, Tony Irvin, has published the second editions of his African Safari Adventure books, plus a related Young Adult thriller, Cobra Strike.

Ant Lion Cover-Kindle

Aimed at 8-12 year olds, the African Safari books are about three British children and the Maasai children they befriend, caught up in adventures on a wildlife ranch in Maasailand, Tanzania.

The author is a retired vet, and he spent many years working in Kenya as an expert on tropical diseases of cattle and wildlife. His books are infused with his familiarity with the people, landscape and creatures. Among the many vivid animal encounters are those with the so-called ‘Little Five’ that give the books their titles:

The Ant-Lion; The Elephant-Shrew; The Buffalo-Weaver; The Leopard-Tortoise; and The Rhinoceros-Beetle (yet to be published).

A drawback of critiquing is that you read a story a bit at a time, over months or years. Sometimes chapters are out of order, or you can’t remember what happened previously. Sometimes you never find out the end. I’m looking forward to reading the whole thrilling series of African Safari Adventures, in the right order, in my own time, for the sheer joy of it.

Seasons Greetings, everybody! Happy Christmas, and I wish you all peace and joy in the coming year.


GIVEAWAY: The wonderful Rosalind Beardshaw illustrated six of the picture books I’ve written. If you don’t already have them on your bookshelf, your local library may be able to find them for you. The English language titles are: ‘Daddy’s Little Star’ (or ‘My Little Star’ or ‘Mommy’s Little Star’), ‘A New Home for Little Fox’ (or ‘Daddy’s Little Scout’), ‘Goodnight, Magic Moon’, ‘Night, Light, Sleep Tight’, ‘Little Deer Lost’ and ‘The Best Present’.


Rosalind put in lots of cute mini-beasts, including dragonflies and beetles. I think there are only two spiders among them. Can you spot them?


I’ll send a PRIZE* to the first person who correctly names the two picture books and tells me where these spiders are hiding. Anyone can enter. Just leave a comment on this website.


*The prize is a copy of the toddler-sized My Little Star board-book, now out of print. Good luck!



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