Today marks the end of a brilliant month long celebration of stories based around our theme of Sail Away in a Story! We end with a cracking blog and book from Cath Howe!
I’m so pleased to be asked to share a story for National Share a Story Month.
My book “Call the Puffins!” is a great place to start before sailing off into your own stories.
The island in my books is called The Island of Egg. Teams of puffins are sent off from here on missions to rescue birds and eggs in danger. The young puffins are trained to get better at doing rescues using their beaks, feet and wings and they earn badges as they go.
I like using real world things and imaginary things close together. The island world of “Call the Puffins!” is inspired by islands I have visited. In particular, I travelled to the beautiful protected island of Skomer in Pembrokeshire last summer when I was working on the stories. As our boat arrived at the dock, hundreds of puffins flew up from the rocks, over my head and down into the sea. Magical! Skomer feels like such a special place: no cars and puffins living in burrows, toddling about and diving down into the sea to find fish. There’s a ruined farm, cliffs and caves and even a shipwreck out at sea.
In my stories, the puffins keep watch on the sea from an old abandoned lighthouse and send rescue teams out when they spot an emergency. They have a giant stone egg called The Midnight Egg:this is one of those unexplained things which is a focus for tales of their ancestors. The puffins live in a busy world of burrows. These ancient rabbit warrens can get crowded and there’s a one-way system to avoid bumps and collisions.
My childhood inspired me to write the stories. Like many children, I went on a holiday to the seaside and dreamed dreams about what might be happening in the place we stayed in. I love beachcombing and so do the puffins in my stories.
I know the sea can be treacherous and we can’t always control the things that happen. My little team of eager puffins meet setbacks and challenges and do what they can to make things better.
They make a promise every day. Here it is:
I promise to be unflappable
to bravely cross the sea and sky
to rescue the eggs and also birds
It may not work, but I’ll always try
In my stories, the main characters find fun and friendship and they do good things. They are cheery and also funny. Sometimes, they get in a mess and struggle. Puffins look amazing with their orange beaks and feet- a bit like life-guards in uniform!
I think my work in schools as a teacher has made a big impact on the books I write. These puffin recruits are a bit like an eager new primary school class, learning new things and finding their feet and their friends. They don’t get things right first time, sometimes, but that’s ok.
There’s a lot of me in these stories, a lot of my optimism about kindness and cooperation shown in the songs and poems that warm the young puffins’ hearts.
Have a look at the wonderful map of the island at the front of the book and escape into some made-up adventures of your own in the world of “Call the Puffins!”
Call the Puffins is published by Welbeck Flame and out now.