Award-winning author Sue Wilkins, who lives near Matlock, has released her fifth illustrated storybook for children just in time for Christmas.
‘Owl To The Rescue’ is the heartwarming story of Owl who works with his friend, Otter, to go to the aid of other woodland animals.
It will be formally launched next Thursday (November 11) at Forest Garden Centre in Two Dales from 10.30 am to 2.30 pm, and will go on sale at various outlets, including National Trust properties across the East Midlands.
As a self-published author, Sue’s previous four books have been hugely successful, achieving total sales of 12,500 and spreading cheer to youngsters across the world.
She said: “It is now five years since I published my first book, but from the beginning, I have been wonderfully supported by many local retailers, and I want to acknowledge my debt to them. Without their backing and interest, I would have struggled.
“Forest Garden Centre was the first outlet to stock my books. I popped in one day and was delighted when they agreed to take 20 copies there and then. This gave me great confidence.
“Earlier this year, I was also delighted when the National Trust accepted me as one of their approved suppliers.
“I have been overwhelmed by the positive comments my books have received, from children, their parents and their grandparents.
“And I have been staggered to discover they have been sent all over the world -- from France, Germany and Italy to the USA, Argentina and Australia.”
‘Owl To The Rescue’, priced £6.99, spans 32 pages and is suitable for children from bith to seven years.
The illustrations for the book have been provided by Liz Furness, who said: “I’ve always enjoyed illustrating Sue’s imaginative stories, but this one is my favourite.
“Owl, Otter and Duck were fun to paint, and I also had the chance to add dragonflies, squirrels, deer and heron, among others.”
Sue added: “I was delighted to work again with Liz, who is another Derbyshire lass. Her beautifully detailed pictures really bring my stories to life.
“And this time, she has added a quiz page to encourage young readers to identify each of the woodland animals she has lovingly painted.”
To accompany ‘Owl To The Rescue’, Sue has had unique soft toys designed and made by a company also based in Derbyshire, Emblem Print Products Ltd.
Paul Strange, Emblem’s managing director, said: “It was a really interesting challenge for us. Owl is a courageous bird, and I’m sure children will enjoy cuddling him while reading or listening to his story.”
Sue’s first four books were ‘Alfie’s Story’, about a stray cat, ‘Fearless Flynn’, the tale of a self-confident mouse, ‘Arkwright The Duck’, a story about an intrepid, little bird, and ‘Milly, Molly, Maisy -- A Tale Of Three Kittens’.
She writes in rhyming couplets, which makes her stories memorable for small children, and a joy for parents or grandparents to read.
Each title is produced to a high quality, with beautiful, glossy, wipe-clean covers, and robust, child-proof bindings. The illustrations are bold and colourful, with a touch of childlike humour.
As her fame has spread, Sue is in high demand as a speaker at meetings of local community groups.
She also goes into primary schools to read her stories and to answer questions about being an author. One highlight of these visits came when she had finished reading and a seven-year-old girl on the front row commented: “Oh, well written!”
Sue now has thousands of followers who would echo that sentiment!