Author takes inspiration from Tweedmouth West

Tweedmouth West First School and one of its former teachers feature in the latest children's book by Berwick-based author Helen Stephens.

Sunday, 20th March 2016, 7:02 am
Tweedmouth West reception pupils show Berwick author Helen Stephens their favourite books.
Tweedmouth West reception pupils show Berwick author Helen Stephens their favourite books.

Her How to Hide a Lion series has proved so successful that a third – How to Hide a Lion at School – is on the way, due to be published in September.

She popped into Tweedmouth West as part of its World Book Day celebrations to give pupils a sneak preview and a few drawing tips.

“My new book uses Tweedmouth West First School as a backdrop,” said Helen, whose daughter, Frieda, is a pupil there.

She was, in fact, the basis for the central character, Iris, who meets a lion in town and decides to take him home

“The teacher in the book is called Miss Holland, named after the real life Miss Holland who taught there until recently.

“The children were super-excited when I came. They were all checking the school piano for lions and agreed that they need to replace the school bus with a school lion!”

Readers might also recognise the old Cowes Berwick Cockle Shops.

Helen also used some artistic licence to ‘knock down’ the old bridge and replace it with a beach!

“That image is really a combination of Berwick and Staithes,” she explained.

Its predecessors – How to Hide a Lion and How to Hide a Lion from Grandma – have been translated into 14 languages so far and been a big success worldwide.

“I’m hoping for similar with the new book,” said Helen.

All three books use Berwick and Tweedmouth as a backdrop.

Helen said: “You might recognise Scotsgate, the Guildhall and Church Road in Tweedmouth.

“When I moved to Tweedmouth five years ago I loved the grey stone houses and the grey-silver sea mists.

“I had this image in my head of a bright yellow lion walking into town, and that is where the idea started.”

Helen has had numerous picture books published, including Fleabag, which won the Dundee Picture Book Award and was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Picture Book Award, and The Night Iceberg, selected for The White Ravens International Library and shortlisted for the Booktrust Early Years Award.

Helen will be at Berwick Literary Festival in October.