Family-run creative hub and events venue Writers Retreat is launching four children’s books on Sunday 10 December in Beal, North Yorkshire.
- Craggie Aggie, by Jan Birley, who is also Writers Retreat’s founder and award-winning screenwriter, and illustrated by David Thompson of Hyperbright Studios
- Being Lily, by Helen Hartley
- Magical Lost and Found: Misty the Unicorn is Missing by Sharon Diane Smith
- Woof by John Thompson and illustrated by David Thompson
The team is excited to launch these beautiful stories onto the children’s book scene and is particularly proud that as well as being charming and engaging stories for young people, each book poses a strong inclusion message. The desire to create books for children which have meaning, power and magic is a golden thread for all of the creators, as is inspiring children to read and write.
Helen Hartley says: “I didn't have the physical or mental energy or time to put aside to focus fully on writing and hadn't planned what I would write, but I was sat in the sunny garden of Writers Retreat with a pencil and note pad and out it came! I've always written for and with kids and it's my utter joy to read books to kids which have meaning and power. I want Lily's story to be instrumental in paving the way for a generation of young people who will celebrate difference, diversity and individuality”.
Sharon Diane Smith said: “The inspiration for my story came from a 'lost and found' poster displayed on their checking desk. I wondered what the oddest thing they’d been asked for was and the magical lost and found desk was created. Some time later I was fortunate to attend Writers' Retreat UK, where on the last evening the attendees shared a piece of work they’d created. Several of the attendees were charmed by my story and Jan offered to publish it for me”.
David Thompson says: “I’d like to say that Craggie Aggie is a story of a little girl finding friendship while on the search for some marshmallows, and for those who read it, that will be it. But for me it was about learning how astonishingly creative and productive you can become through just stopping one bad habit. For me that was drinking. I never drank to excess, but stopping just my usual couple of drinks a day surprisingly led to me having a massive creative explosion which has continued beyond finally completing Craggie Aggie”.
Jan set up Writers Retreat four years ago after being unable to find the kind of experience she was looking for. She has run the Retreat as a passion business ever since and it’s now solidifying its reputation as an excellent events venue, being accessible from all main commuter points yet surrounded by beautiful North Yorkshire countryside.
She concludes: “We all need a place of calm to escape to and these books stimulate the imagination beautifully. We all feel strongly about the role wonderful stories can play in provoking empathy and acceptance and making the world a slightly better place, especially for children. I’m also proud that these books were created at or have a strong connection to Writers Retreat”.