And today we’re very pleased to share a piece by Moira on where the ideas for the series began, including a preview of the next book, Look What I Found at the Seaside, which you can read below.
I guess you could say I collected the idea for the Look What I Found series. It began to grow in my mind when I was lucky enough to attend a wedding in Ireland at a venue next to a wide pebbly beach. The day after the wedding I went down to the shore. There I found the bride and groom walking by the sea (a good way to start a new chapter in life, I thought) plus the little bridesmaid and her family. She was busy collecting, her hands darting down to grab a special pebble or shell that caught her eye. I knew exactly how she felt about them and I set about helping her to collect just the right treasures. Not the stinky crab remains (though yes, they were interesting), and not the shells that still had animals living inside them (I was able to show her how to look). Instead, we found a select few of the most tempting things offered by the beach. Later she would set out a treasure display on her windowsill in the hotel and then take her finds home forever.
The same impulses she had would apply to a walk in the woods. Which child would not love to find a tiny acorn cup and feel around its smooth bowl, or perhaps a glowing red chestnut or a stick that’s just the right length to wave as a secret wand for a little while?
The Look What I Found books celebrate finding, and sometimes collecting, natural treasures without doing harm. (I believe the instinct to collect and treasure will not be quenched, so I’ve included an important lesson that we do no harm and pick up one or two pebbles with mysterious stripes or holes, not a bootful!).
I have tried to make each of the books into a little treasury of things children might find and notice on a typical outing, along with just the right amount of information to answer the questions they might pose – “What’s this I found?” or “What’s that I see?”. I begin each find by describing an experience that children will recognise, such as: “Look what I found! Two leaves that make funny bunny ears.” Then I offer a helping hand to help them understand some more.
The artist Jesús Verona has risen to the challenge with his glowing colours and detailing so that the pages themselves are wonderful to explore.
I still feel the same about the extraordinary things I find outside in the world. In the pockets of my dressing gown I have three smooth cool pebbles and a shining curly shell from places I love. I often click the pebbles together like worry beads and connect myself to where I have been and might go again. I must admit that I still have the rock collection I made as a child on Cornish holidays – rocks that excited me with their glittery patches of fool’s gold or their magical-looking quartz crystals. They’re not precious, except to me, but I’m glad I still have them stored in their small red suitcase, the essence of my salty breezy childhood beach-exploring.
I hope that the Look What I Found books will make good companions for the many children who, like me, spend their day looking out for treasures, whether these are things to hold in the hand or simply to note and remember – such as the song of a bird or the sight of a butterfly.
I’m old enough to be a great-auntie now but I still can’t think of anything more welcome than sharing the experience of discovering the world with a child. Sharing their wonder is such a gift. I hope these books will add to their joy!
Look What I Found at the Seaside, the second book in the series, will be published this June.
Take a look inside the first book below: