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Great feedback from Canada!

It’s so exciting to be reminded that words and pictures created in my tiny office on the Isle of Wight can be read and appreciated by people living thousands of miles away.

I have been forwarded an email from a mum living in Canada, thanking her English friend for sending her daughter three of my books:

Ms. Peta Rainford’s stories and illustrations captivated her imagination. I appreciate Ms. Rainford’s gift in distilling the world of children through her characters and at the same time making her tales appealing to grown-ups reading the books. 

All of Ms. Rainford’s characters resonated with my little one. In a way, she’s similar to Isabella and the Hairy Fairy who has such a big and kind heart. H.Fairy also dances to the beat of her own drum. When we first read Isabella, Rotten Speller, Malaya was incensed that the black cat was mean to Isabella and “sabotaged” her magic. She protested to the injustice with this rhetorical question: “Why was the black cat mean to Isabella? She didn’t do anything mean to the black cat!” Jacob’s fear of the darkness is familiar to M as well. It was only in the past year she has made the “darkness her friend” …

Anyhow, please extend Malaya’s and my appreciation of Ms. Rainford’s work! We thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you are a far-flung reader, please get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!

Jacob Starke’s in National Parks!

Nothing like a rhyming headline to perk me up in the morning – especially when it heralds the good news that a number of National ParksBrecon Beacons, Exmoor and North York Moors – are now stocking my new rhyming picture book, Jacob Starke Loves the Dark in their shops. Woo hoo!

The reason for this, of course, is that  Jacob Starke Loves the Dark is all about the dangers of light pollution and the importance of Dark Skies, and the National Parks that are stocking my book are all known for their exceptionally beautiful Dark Skies.

Exmoor National Park (where I lived for a number of years, and once walked into a hedge when trying to get home from my next door neighbour’s house at night without a torch, so I know how dark it is) and Brecon Beacons National Park are both designated as International Dark Sky Reserves, which means they have an exceptional quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment. North York Moors National Park has Dark Skies Discovery Sites at Danby and Sutton Bank National Park Centres plus Scarborough & Ryedale Astronomical Society Observatories in Dalby Forest.

So exciting to think that my book might encourage children to look at the stars from our National Parks.

Five stars for Jacob!

Whispering Stories Book Blog

5.0 out of 5 starsThis book is truly wonderful

Jacob is afraid of the dark. Every night he goes into all the rooms in his home and switches on the lights. He even wears a light on his head to bed. One night the lights all go out, including the one on his head. He is in total darkness, that’s when the night shows him it is nothing to be scared of and why the dark is important as much as the light.

The book is just beautiful, both the rhyming words and the illustrations. It is exceptionally engaging and I’m sure that children will not only enjoy a fab story they will also learn a lot too about what the dark does and why nature needs it.

For any child that is afraid of the dark, this book is a must. It will reassure them in a relaxing manner and make them understand that there is nothing to fear.

Coming back to the illustrations, these have been drawn with so much love and care. I especially love the night scenes with their black backgrounds and colours that really stand out.

This book is truly wonderful. It has short sentences and as it rhymes, young children who are just learning to read will find this easy to follow. It would work perfectly as a bedtime read to ease those woes about the dark.


5.0 out of 5 starsAnother charmer from Peta Rainford! BUY IT

K. J. Noyes

5.0 out of 5 starsSmooth-flowing rhyme in a reassuring story about the Dark

My 7-year-old has recently started complaining about a ‘fear’ of the dark. Frustrating, when it’s not a long-standing problem. We’ve talked about what dark is, what dark is useful for, why there’s nothing to be frightened of. Sometimes though, it takes another child’s similar experience to encourage and reassure.

He read this himself and enjoyed it, and we discussed it. Jacob, the protagonist, is terrified of what might be in the dark. He is made to see the use of darkness, what needs it to survive, what would happen if we didn’t have dark. It reminded me of Jill Tomlinson’s ‘The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark’, but for a younger audience.

I appreciated the approach, the examples used, and really enjoyed the rhythm and natural-feeling rhymes. The examples are relevant and interesting to the target market (planets, animals), and I really liked the full-illustrated look of the book, with the text integrated inside the scenes.

Could be very useful for parents/teachers/educators needing to address this topic with children. Suitable for toddlers and older and gives opportunities to discuss natural history and nocturnal sleep patterns, astronomy, plants and seasons.

For ages 3 and above, would continue to have a place in KS1 classes.


5.0 out of 5 starsAnother great book for children from Peta Rainford, with a great message

Loved the drawing style, especially the delicate and serene depiction of The Dark contrasting with Jacob and light. This book should help lots of children overcome their fears. When I was a child I used to be terrified of things under the bed at night (still am sometimes even though I’m grown-up now). This would have helped me I’m sure. I love looking at the night sky now and wish I’d started looking at it sooner. And we do need councils to cut the amount of light pollution in our cities so our children can see the riches above us: the red glow of Mars, tracking satellites and the ISS as well as the stars and constellations which change position with the seasons.

So much fun in the Youth Zone!

Well, that was fun. Exhausting. But definitely a whole lot of fun.

I am just trying to get back to some kind of normal after a whirlwind couple of weeks with the Isle of Wight Literary Festival. After last week’s Schools Programme, this weekend was the Main Event: the Youth Zone, a children’s festival, with talks and workshops from a wide range of authors and illustrators; as well as spoken word performances, storytelling,  junk modelling, science, rockets, exhibitions, competitions and a whole lot more. It was fab!

So pleased with the feedback from my two sessions. Great that my new book about fear of the dark and the importance of Dark Skies, Jacob Starke Loves the Dark, was so well received (phew!) and I was delighted by the woolly solar systems the children made in the workshop…

… not to mention the super superheroes that emerged from my session based on The Niggle the following day. The book, if you don’t already know, is about resilience, and the children were encouraged to find the superheroes inside themselves. I think they succeeded!


IWLF Schools’ Programme was so much fun!

I had so much fun on Thursday and Friday, doing my second consecutive IWLF (Isle of Wight Literary Festival) Schools’ Programme; visiting four lovely primary schools over two hectic days.

My Schools’ Programme wow: The Year 1 boy at Lanesend Primary who put up his hand during my session on Jacob Starke Loves The Dark to tell me that the opposite of nocturnal is diurnal. I had never heard the word before, nor had his teacher, but she quickly Googled it and found he was right! WOW!

My Schools’ Programme aw: The Year 1 girl at Hunnyhill Primary who said: ‘I love your books. Actually I love you!’ AW!

My Schools’ Programme ahh: The teaching assistant at Newport Primary School who told me my illustrations of The Dark had made her quite emotional! (Hopefully in a good way!) AHH!

Thank you to all the primary schools that hosted me (St Thomas of Canterbury was the fourth). You all made me feel very welcome and your children were lovely!

I am very proud to be part of the IWLF Schools’ Programme. It’s a fantastic initiative: taking more than a dozen authors into more than 20 schools over two days and reaching some 5,000 children.

Next weekend it’s the IWLF Youth Zone itself and I’m currently busy preparing the craft activities for my two sessions (more on this to follow.) Tickets can be bought in advance here. Hope to see you there!


Jacob Starke Takes Flight!

Really excited that my new book, Jacob Starke Loves The Dark has gone live!

What’s it about? Well, here’s the blurb:

Are you afraid of THE DARK? Jacob Starke is. Jacob Starke is TERRIFIED! Until, that is, he gets to meet The Dark face-to-face and shares an amazing adventure through the wonders of the night sky.

Jacob Starke Loves The Dark is a charming rhyming picture book about being brave, outer space, loving plants and animals and the importance of Dark Skies. An important environmental issue is tackled with beautiful illustrations, humour and a light touch.


Jacob Starke Loves the Dark is perfect bedtime reading for three-year-olds and over and its environmental themes provide great talking-points for older primary-aged children. It’s available to buy today on Amazon, price £6.99.


Looking forward to the IWLF Youth Zone

I am getting really excited about my two presentations at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival Youth Zone on Saturday and Sunday, 20 and 21 October. Come and see me if you can!

On Saturday. from 11.30am-12.10pm, I will be running a session on my brand new rhyming picture book, Jacob Starke Loves The Dark  and (ambitious as ever) helping the children build their own night sky (not to scale). Modestly priced tickets for the event can be purchased here. 

Then on Sunday, from 12.30-1.10pm, I’ll be talking about fear and resilience, reading my book, The Niggle, and turning everyone into superheros! More information and tickets for this session can be found here.

Look forward to seeing some of you then. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with what’s going on at the IWLF Youth Zone on their Facebook Page.

First IOW Children’s Festival a great success!

I am so pleased that I got to take part in the first Isle of Wight Children’s Festival, hosted by Quay Arts and Ventnor Exchange, last week. A group of local authors, representing the Isle of Wight Literary Festival (IWLF) Youth Zone, took over ‘The Snug’ at the Quay Arts Centre and got to share our stories with some wonderfully attentive and enthusiastic children.

But there was so much more to see and do! The ten year old and I were enchanted by Yana and the Yeti, a magical puppet show produced by Pickled Image and Nordland Visual Theatre, about displacement and isolation and, ultimately, friendship and finding your place in the world.

The ten year old really enjoyed the workshops too – particularly Fairies v Trolls, where you got to make (you guessed it) a troll or a fairy (the ten year old did both) and the Comic Strip session – both of these were great fun and really well led.


What was particularly nice about the Children’s Festival though, was its overall vibe. It was genuinely child-friendly, with lots of welcoming smiley faces, a soft play area with toys and books (sometimes occupied by the lovely local storyteller, Sue Bailey), a special children’s menu and books and colouring in on every table in the cafe. The inaugural Children’s Festival was a great success. I can’t wait til next year!

Great reviews for The Niggle!

I’ve had some wonderful reviews on Amazon for my new book, The NiggleYou can find the full reviews here, but here are a few extracts:

5 out of 5 stars An age appropriate look at fears and how to conquer them
By Nerdish Mum
I absolutely loved The Niggle, it is so well thought out and so well written. The rhyming really flows as you are reading and it makes everything sound good whether you’re reading it out loud or in your head… The artwork is absolutely lovely and really matches the tone of the story.

5 out of 5 stars Imaginative and beautifully put together
By Sir Readalot
Through humorous rhymes and beautiful illustrations by multi-talented Peta Rainford, we learn about a little boy called Joe who knows no fear – until, that is, an incident occurs… This is an imaginative and well-written story which will enthral your little ones while also teaching them an important message. Highly recommended!

5 out of 5 stars Conquer Your Fear!
By Molly Neely
This story reminds us all, that experiencing life can be a little scary, but fear should never stop you from trying new things!… I gave this book a well deserved 5H rating. Between the perfectly crafted story and the fun illustrations, I just know you will do the same.

5 out of 5 stars Smashing for those anxious children
By Linda’s Book Bag TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Niggle is a smashing children’s story with a fantastic message about being brave and not letting your anxieties niggle away at you so that they prevent you doing what you want and need to do. I thought the way in which Joe ages from two to six and goes from fearlessness through self doubt back to confidence was inspired, as the story gives an accessible and identifiable and positive message to children (and indeed I think some adults could benefit from this book too)… I’m really impressed by Peta Rainford’s children’s books and can recommend The Niggle most highly.

5 out of 5 stars You won’t regret buying this
By Annette S. Verified Purchase
Wonderfully illustrated (I particularly like the swimming pool and underwater effects!) and clever rhymes makes this book a real pleasure to read. The theme of fear, and how to overcome it, was explained so well it should be read by all primary school teachers to their class, and parents at bedtime. Love it!

5 out of 5 stars This is a very helpful book, particularly for children who are needing help combating their own fears
By Whispering Stories Book Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is a very helpful book, particularly for children who are needing help combating their own fears. I especially love how the author, through the voice of Resolve, talks to the reader about being strong.

5 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
By Suzanne R
Another super beautiful and colourful book! Wonderful language, an original and very relevant subject – superb!

5 out of 5 stars Buy it!
By Kelly Verified Purchase
A rhyming delight, full of clever illustrations. The concepts of fear, self-doubt and bravery are tricky to put in to words that a child will understand, this book encompasses them in a thoroughly enjoyable and heart warming way. My 6 year old loves it and so do I!

5 out of 5 stars A really fun read, a great read aloud book with children
By Yvonne Me and My Books
I loved this story, it is one of those stories that just has to be read out loud, it is a rhyming tale that I think children will love. It does have a message about how fear can stop you doing things, but also there is a positive aspect to it as well. It also has a nice touch humour in it as well There is a good balance and the nasty Niggle does not have it all his own way, so it ends on a good note. This book is written and illustrated by Peta and she has matched words and pictures very nicely, they complement each other. I would definitely recommend this book for children in the 5-8 year age range. A good book to sit and read with them.

4 out of 5 stars What is Fear?
By Mrs Average Evaluates
We really enjoyed this book, our four year old was a bit scared of the Niggle, but was very happy when confidence showed up.. it’s a great story about what we are afraid of and why, and how to manage fear. The story started lots of great discussions in our family about danger and how adults and children might think about it differently. The story is via a gentle rhyme, and the font was easy to read, and the illustrations were fun. It’s always great to find a book that all our kids can enjoy – albeit on different levels. Great stuff. 

4 out of 5 stars This is a very good book with a wonderful message for children
By Book Worm
This is a very good book with a wonderful message for children. We all get the fear, the doubt, the uncertainty. In other words, we can all relate to the Niggle! This book will give children the tools to overcome their own niggles. The illustrations are very clever as is the concept. I love writing in rhyme so this book appealed in this way too.

4 out of 5 stars An original take on facing your fears, with wonderful illustrations!
By Brydie W
Children respond best to ‘the moral of the story’ when it is imparted in an innovative, rather than didactic way. Rainford achieves this and it is her strength. She is also a talented illustrator, with a love of rhyme and I will be interested to see how her work develops. I would suggest the ending could be tighter, with less need for exposition after the climax. Kids will get the message and illustrations as good as these should be able to do most of the talking. Overall, a surprising and enjoyable read, with an original take on a universal theme. Well done, Peta!