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Book Launch, and signing!

Now our pre-orders are in, and we have the gorgeous book in our possession, it’s time to share it with you all!

Come and join us today to grab yourself a signed copy, have a chat with Holly and Sophie, the author and illustrator. You can also treat yourself to a cake and a cuppa!

See you there!

The Apple Tree Gift Shop and Tea House, Flood Street, Ockbrook, DE72 3RF

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‘Deep In The Whispering Woods’ now available for pre-orders – release date 21st June

Deep In The Whispering Woods: An Imagination Journal For Storytellers – written by Holly Staniford, illustrated by Sophie Johnson-Hill.

This book has been lovingly written by Midlands based author and educator, Holly Staniford and is packed full of imaginative hooks and inspiration for young storytellers.

All stories start with a daydream…

Start your child daydreaming with this wonderful storyteller’s
companion. A fabulous accessory to children’s adventures, this journal
is packed full of hooks, inspiration and storytelling prompts to
empower children to tell original stories, sparked by their outdoor
experiences. The pages are sprinkled with ideas and activities to
nurture creativity and the ability to view the world through their
imagination. It will inspire children to get outside and embark on new
adventures. It is a perfect companion to the creation of childhood

The book also includes six wonderful stories written by children, inspired by the title ‘Deep In The Whispering Woods’, which were chosen as competition winners last year.

The book is now available for pre-order for just £7.99 (full price £9.99) So pop over to our books page, to check it out!

About Holly

Holly is a writer, key stage 2 teacher and forest schools leader. She is
the founder of an imagination based forest school called Fish in a Tree
where children are taught through imagination, storytelling and rich
outdoor experiences. For the past ten years she has also provided
creative consultancy to schools, sharing her passion for the impact of
imaginative, outdoor experiences on a child’s writing process.

Writing this book has allowed her to do what she loves best and share
her creative ideas with even more children.

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‘Deep in the Whispering Woods: An imagination journal for storytellers’ PRE-LAUNCH OFFER for forest schools and schools.

This summer Sojo & Mouse will launch ‘Deep in the Whispering Woods: An imagination journal for storytellers’, lovingly pieced together by Midlands based author and educator, Holly Staniford, whose aim with this publication is to:

  • Encourage children to get outdoors and into their local woodlands.
  • Nurture a connection with the natural world.
  • Enthuse children to seek inspiration from the outdoors and super charge their imagination.
  • Demonstrate how to use natural resources to kindle creativity and trigger story ideas.
  • Empower children to create original stories, sparked by their outdoor experiences.
  • Encourage ‘stand and stare’ time to notice the tiny details and nuances of nature and to nurture the ability to view these through imagination.

Here’s the deal for forest schools (and schools with a passion for escaping the classroom):

We would love for your school to be part of our launch week, which we are hoping will coincide with a big dollop of UK freedom from covid restrictions on 21st June 2021. If you fancy getting involved, or simply want to get a box of books for your pupils, here is how it works:

*Minimum order: 8 books

*This early-bird offer is for one month only, so be sure to get your orders in before 8/05/2021.

As mentioned above, we have made the decision to open our offer to schools as well as forest schools! We want to say a massive thank you for all your incredible work during the pandemic by offering our one-off pre-launch price of just £5, to your school. The RRP is £8.99, so this is a great way to raise money for new books for your library or classrooms!

Perhaps you were thinking of starting an outdoor club? All you need is a copy of our book for each child and their imaginations. No planning needed. If you are a school that values imaginative outdoor experiences to positively impact literacy skills in the classroom, this is the book for your children.

We can’t wait for you to join us in the launch of this magical journal!

Take a look inside ‘Deep in the Whispering Woods: An imagination journal for storytellers’ by Holly Staniford

Pop your name and email below and we will send you more details.

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‘Deep in the Whispering Woods’ story writing competition: winners announced

Deep in the Whispering Woods: An Imagination Journal for Story Writers is the next book in the Sojo & Mouse publishing pipeline and the author, Holly Staniford asked for input from the best people in the world…kids!

She ran a competition via Fish in a Tree, which we also shouted about all over our social media too. Lorry loads of incredible stories were sent over to the judges to enjoy with a lovely cuppa. Let me remind you who the judges are.

The time has come to shout about the fabulous winners of our short story competition!

Our judges were truly dazzled by the originality and imaginations of all the children involved.  Thank you so much for your incredible work.

Huge congratulations to our worthy winners from three age categories. 

Drum roll please…

Bertie Zanker

Freya Bentley

Umar Ibrahim

Emily Sheath

Rowan Lounds

Freya Topliss

Lamorna Peake

This talented bunch will have their stories published in, Deep in the Whispering Woods: An Imagination Journal for Story Writers.

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Sojo chats with the kids at Awen about their venture into making children’s books

Awen is a democratic, free-to-attend school in Cardiff, set up by Charlotte Church. This is the school’s very first year of existence and the 20 brilliant children that I’ve been lucky to start working with have been given the task to dream up what they want their school to be. I mean….come on….what an absolutely beautiful opportunity! Just imagine what you might have dreamt up in their position.

Some days they bring their dogs to school! I KNOW!

Anyway, sorry for the all caps, it just gets me very excited when kids are given creative freedom. It’s a sure-fire way to awesomeness, in my opinion.

I (Sophie) have been hopping across to Cardiff to work with the kids for a while now, whilst wearing my Sojo Animation hat, but yesterday I was in full Sojo & Mouse mode because…

…the Awen kids are creating children’s books

and they mean business!

They have split themselves into 3 story groups made up of the following roles:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Illustrator
  • Dramaturg
  • Performer

So I had the treat of listening, via the power of the internet, to three, fresh stories while they are still in those early stages of infinite possibilities. I got to ask prying questions like “Just quite how massive does he get?”, “What kind of age do you think of it being?” and “What’s its voice like?”.

In a week or so they will be sharing finished stories and early illustration ideas with school children and asking for feedback before edging closer to getting, potentially all three stories, print ready. They are an ambitious bunch!

The fourth group of kids to jump onto my computer screen were ‘The Business Group’. Oh gosh what a mountain of a task that lays ahead of them. I had asked them to watch the Sojo & Mouse kickstarter campaign video to quickly explain how Helen (Mouse) and I had gone about funding that initial print run. They were full of confidence, passion and ideas about possible avenues they could take.

I can’t wait to see their stories as they develop further and I am intrigued to know whether they opt to knock down the doors of the publishing giants, approach some of the independents, or set up their very own publishing company. Something tells me it’s going to be the latter.

Here’s a vlog I made a few weeks ago about my time at Awen, incase you’re interested.

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The Grumpy Hamster @ The Hungry Caterpillar Cafe

Long Eaton, we’re heading your way! After a lovely workshop afternoon at the Hockley Hustle, we’re excited to be taking this grumpy little guy over to Long Eaton for a session at the lovely Hungry Caterpillar Cafe. 
The workshop will be taking place in the Community Room above the cafe, and you and your little one will get a chance to hear the story, play some fun games, exploring what happens when we get angry and how we can change our crossness into useful stuff. Also you’ll get to make your very own Grumpy Hamster to take with you.

The cost of the workshop is £8 and includes your own copy of The Grumpy Hamster to take away with you, which would usually cost you £6.99! Bargain, huh?! And if you have more than one grumpy child, then any extra siblings are just £2. 

If you’d like more information, please drop us an email to, or simply book a place by clicking the relevant button below

One space for workshop: Buy Now Button Two spaces for siblings: Buy Now Button

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The Grumpy Hamster Anger Management Workshop @Young Hustlers #2

Thank you to all of you who joined us for some seriously grumpy crafty, storytelling fun at Young Hustlers in Sneinton.

We LOVED sharing our brand new story with you, ‘The Grumpy Hamster’ and hearing all about what makes you feel really cross.

The hamsters you made were nothing short of incredible! I can’t believe how GRUMPY they all were!  Turns out hamsters get cross about the same issues as us humans.

Remember to order your copy of the book so you can talk about your crossness at home too.

Have a look at all these amazingly grumpy hamsters you made…


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The Grumpy Hamster

Look inside ‘The Grumpy Hamster’

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The Grumpy Hamster is fed up with feeling cross.  Luckily he meets a wise old pigeon  who tells him a secret…

“You can turn your crossness into useful stuff.”

A particularly grumpy picture book for young children.

Ships to UK only

£6.99 (+£2 p&p)

buy now

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The Glowing Snowman

Look inside ‘The Glowing Snowman’

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The Glowing Snowman –                      

Written by Helen Goodbarton, and illustrated by Sophie Johnson-Hill 

A lonely snowman is left in the woods, wishing for some company, when an accident with a firefly suddenly changes everything…

A charming Christmassy picture book for young children.

Ships to UK only

£6.99 (+£2 p&p)

buy now