Jack and Boo book signing at Dinosaur Isle’s Blast from the Past

Jack and Boo's Dinosaur Island - Packshot - Copyright Beachy Books

I’ll be signing copies of our new children’s book, Jack and Boo’s Dinosaur Island, at Dinosaur Isle’s Blast From The Past (pdf) event on Saturday 9th November from 10am to 4pm. The books are normally £5.99, but I’ll be selling them at £5.00 on the day with 10% of sales going to The Friends of Dinosaur Isle, who “support the museum in its mission to be a centre of excellence in the acquisition, conservation, display and interpretation of the Island’s dinosaurs and diverse geological heritage.”

Inside dino isle photo by Philip Bell

It will be FREE entry to Dinosaur Isle all over the weekend, so there’s no excuse not to come along. They’ll be loads of dinosaur and fossil experts on hand and children’s activities. It’s the perfect chance to find out why the Isle of Wight is called the “Dinosaur Capital of Great Britain” by the Natural History Museum.

Oh and you’ll have an exclusive chance to buy Jack and Boo’s Dinosaur Island, the perfect book for any dinosaur and fossil fan! Check out our book trailer for a preview…

See you there!

Families and Children Have Fun at Wild Wood Walk

Families and children walking at the spring Wild Wood Walk 2013

This morning we had five families and their children book on our Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood Walk (Sunday 19th May 2013) at National Trust Borthwood Copse, Isle of Wight, as part of the 2013 Isle of Wight Walking Festival. Children’s ages ranged from 2 up to 9 years old and all had a map and spotter guide to tick off woodland wildlife.

We kept the walk to a simple circular route of about 1 mile, as we had some parents carrying toddlers in backpacks and even a heavily pregnant lady who wanted to avoid a woodland birth!

The fragrance from the drifts of bluebells in the wood hit us as soon as we stepped into the wood and it made great photo opportunities for parents and their children.

I read from Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood, surrounded by bluebells, while parents rested on logs and children crouched next to them. Some of the older children loved climbing trees and making camps, while toddlers wandered around collecting handfuls of sticks to make imaginary campfires or use them to try and cut down trees.

It was lovely to chat to parents and children as we walked around the wood and hear that they liked all walking in a group as they could meet new people and the children could play with each other. Some of the parents hadn’t visited Borthwood Copse before and others had been to the wood on previous occasions  but had got lost or never walked the route we took them on today.

The homemade orange flapjack, baked by Mrs Beachy, was well received at the end of the walk, under a stand of giant beech trees. The children played hide ‘n’ seek with my two children, I showed a boy how to estimate the height of a tree using a stick, and we challenged some of the children to walk around tree trunks without touching the ground.

It was heartening to sell a few books and hear parents and children say they enjoyed the walk and wanted to come back on our autumn scavenger hunt in October and more walks we plan to run in the future. Best of all, parents were having fun with their children outside in a wonderful natural woodland – the best playground in the world!

If you’re interested in going on family walks with Beachy Books then please get in touch.


Walking with Bluebells

Bluebells in ancient woodland

Fancy a wild walk to spot bluebells with the children this Sunday?

Look no further than our guided Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood Walk in National Trust’s ancient wood, Borthwood Copse, as part of the 2013 Isle of Wight Walking Festival.

Many locations in the wood were inspiration for our book Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood, which includes some photos form Borthwood Copse. There will be an opportunity to buy the book on the day and it is also available to buy at other outlets on Isle of Wight (scroll down to Isle of Wight).

“This story lays down a lovely list of things for children to do in the real world of nature. I urge you to read it and then let them enact it for themselves. Only then will we have future generations who will love wildlife enough to protect it.” ~ Chris Packham on Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood

The circular walk is guided and will be just over a mile, and take around 2 hours. Children will get a map and spotter guide to tick off woodland finds as they go. There will also be 3 special woodland challenges as we walk around the route. Feel free to bring cameras to snap woodland wildlife.

Cost is £2 per adult (with 50p going to National Trust). Kids go free.

They’ll be homemade bakes (probably flapjacks) and cold drinks for kids, but please do bring along your own snacks/refreshments if you have special dietary requirements. The walk isn’t ideal for buggies, unless you have a 4-wheel-drive model!

There are no “official”  picnic areas or tables/chairs as such in the wood so be prepared to sit on a tree trunk if you need a rest.

Well behaved dogs on leads welcome. The walk is quite hilly in parts and I cannot guarantee what the ground conditions will be, so wear good shoes, and if it rains then bring wellies!

Meet at the main Borthwood entrance, on Alverstone Road, (the one outside the Number 8 stop with the wooden gate) at 10am Sunday 16th May 2013. The walk should be all finished by 12pm.

Limited car parking in the Parish Council car park at Alverstone Road, just before Queen Bower, a shown on the OS map 566844 with a blue “P”. But, please meet walk leader at 10am at main Borthwood copse entrance. This is not the Parish Council car park entrance!

If you want to come please let me know numbers via email

info (at) beachybooks (dot) com

More details on the Isle of Wight Walking Festival website.

See you there!

Philip Bell

Beachy Books goes to The IOW Literary Festival

On Sunday 14th October Beachy Books attended the first ever Isle of Wight Literary Festival at Cowes in aid of raising funds for Northwood House.

It was also the first time my wife, Eleanor Bell, and illustrator of Jack and Boo, came along with me to help with our reading of Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood. I think because of this I was a bit more anxious than usual as I felt I had to plan things more. I usually just rock-up and wing it. No, I jest, of course I do days of planning for these things, honest.

We hoped for an audience of 40-50 people, having seen the size of the room before the event and was told by the organisers that most of the previous days’ talks had been sold out. My wife and I arrived nice and early, saying hello to the local Waterstone’s manager setting up books in the entrance to Northwood House. I erected a projector screen and got our books displayed on it. We have interactive versions of our books, with real turning pages, that look very impressive when I present in schools, so I thought that would work well in the cavernous room we’d been allocated.

We were all set. It was nearly time to start. And yet, still, I looked out on a sea of empty chairs. I’m sure Louis de Berniere never had this problem at his event!

Eventually a trickle of parents and children walked in and before long I realised this was all we were going to get. I was surprised given the publicity surrounding the event in the local newspaper and my face advertised on endless loop on a promotional video played on the ferry. Also our event was FREE, once families had paid to get into the main festival event. It must be noted we were not paid for the event nor offered payment. We felt it was a great cause and opportunity to promote and sell our books. Perhaps the “literary” bit of a literary festival put some families off? Perhaps nobody had heard of me and didn’t fancy it – very likely? Perhaps the event was never going to attract many families and children? Was it the cost of main entry to the festival? Was 10:30am just too early on a Sunday morning? Was it the slightly moody photo of me in the programme? Who knows?

But it didn’t matter because the children who were there – mostly a pre-school and reception age audience – got a personal and close-up telling of Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood and hands-on experience touching woodland finds like acorns, leaves, galls and conkers as we read the book. There were also loads of colouring sheets and a chance for the few older children who had come to write their own woodland-inspired story. The younger members of the audience wanted me to repeat pages, read them again, and when they had opportunities to count things they came up to the screen and pointed to butterflies and ducks. One helpful little girl wanted to help me turn the pages by pressing buttons on my laptop. We said the event would be interactive and it was!

We also had time to do a full read-through of our Christmas book, Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day. I usually pause between pages and get the kids to interact, ask questions, but this time I read it all so the poetic prose flowed. I had to chuckle, as I noticed a mum in the second row staring – possibly tweeting how crap I was? – into her mobile phone throughout my reading. Apparently she’d come with her kids while her author husband was doing a reading upstairs in another room.

I later found out from Eleanor that I had inadvertently skipped a line or two from the text. I hadn’t even realised. Reading from a book on a projector screen to your side, while standing facing an audience is tricky and needs practice. Apart from that my wife said my reading was brilliant – well, she had too! – and I admitted I’d love us to be able to do future Beachy Book events together as the dynamic between us really worked. It’s also very handy when we came to signing and selling books as parents didn’t have to wait so long because we split the work between us. And some children got some very rare Beachy Books signed by BOTH author and illustrator. Worth at least a few pence more on eBay one day I wager.

Eleanor and I also got to talk to the really engaged group of parents who had come along. They gained a personal insight into how we create the books and what inspires us, which was really nice. We got some great feedback and sold some books too. I discovered one of the parents was a local school teacher who later asked me to visit her school to do some readings and activities. So, all in all, it was a successful day and gave us valuable experience of preparing for larger events.

I’d like to thank the organisers of The Isle of Wight Literary Festival for allowing Beachy Books to change a few hearts and minds. Bring on next year’s festival!


Jack and Boo go to The Needles Old Battery

Jack and Boo go to Needles Battery by Philip Bell Copyright 2012 Beachy Books

Children’s author Philip Bell will be in residence at The National Trust Needles Old Battery in Isle of Wight on Saturday 27th October 2012 between 11am and 3pm.

Philip Bell, author and publisher at Island family-run, award-winning, children’s publisher Beachy Books, will be in residence at the historic Needles Old Battery reading from his Jack and Boo children’s books and offering an opportunity for children to help the author create a special Jack and Boo style book about The Needles Battery.

Children can get involved in taking photos, drawing pictures, writing poetic lines about the battery and then printing out their own story pages to take home. They’ll also be colouring sheets for pre-school children and readings from Jack and Boo’s Bucket of Treasures, Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood and Jack and Boo’s Snowy Day.

They’ll also be an opportunity to buy Beachy Books from the National Trust shop and get any signed for Christmas presents.

The event is open to all and is ideal for children aged 2 upwards!

Spring Wild Wood Walking Festival Walk!

Bluebells in Borthwood by Philip BellPhilip Bell, local Isle of Wight author and publisher at Beachy Books, will be at Borthwood Copse on Monday 7th May at 1pm (click to see full details) to hand out maps and Wild Wood Spotter Guides for families and children keen to follow in the footsteps of Jack and Boo, the characters from his spring book, Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood and go in search of bluebells and other signs of spring.

The unguided spotter walks have been organised as part of the Isle of Wight Walking Festival 2012, and the author will also be at Borthwood Copse for a repeat walk on Saturday 19th May 2012 (click to see full details), again at 1pm. (The title of the walks are printed incorrectly on the council website – the walks are Spotter Walks, the scavenger hunt is in the autumn – scroll down for details).

Borthwood Copse is owned by The National Trust and many of the photos in the book were taken in the wood. The walk is free with voluntary donations to the National Trust’s Borthwood conservation fund.

Philip Bell says: “It’s the perfect time to see the wood because of the bluebells – which look and smell wonderful! You can also look out for bumblebees, woodpeckers and other spring flowers. The walk is unguided – so you can go at your own pace. It’s around a mile or so, but you can make it shorter or longer as there are various paths. It’s a pleasant circular walk that’s ideal for families and children so please come along and bring a picnic if you want.”

If you fancy a walk and spotting signs of spring in a beautiful ancient woodland, Philip will be at the main entrance of Borthwood Copse, by the number 8 bus stop on Alverstone Road, Winford, near Sandown from 1pm.

If you have an “off-road” buggy with tyres you can still join in and it’s dog friendly, but the National Trust ask that you keep dogs on a lead please. If you come by car, there is limited parking on the road and also a small council owned car park up the Alverstone road (past the turning to Forest Road) on your right.

If you park then walk along to the main entrance to collect a map and Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood Spotter Guide from Philip and he should have a few Beachy Books with him if you want to buy a signed copy or order books.

If you enjoy this spring walk then please come back during the Autumn Walking Weekend (also part of The Isle of Wight Walking Festival) to see how the wood has changed and take part in the Wild Wood Scavenger Hunt!

For more information Contact Philip Bell.

Autumn Wild Wood Walk a Success!

We organised a family walk at Borthwood Copse, IOW today, to celebrate the launch of our autumn children’s book called Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood. The day was perfect, a sunny crisp autumn day, leaves turning golden and red, and crunchy scattered all around. I set up shop half hour before the start on a flowery fold-up chair (very me) and a pile of books to my side. I felt a little conspicuous at first, but soon got into the flow of chatting to people out on their regular Sunday walk, and within half an hour I’d sold 3 books.

As the day progressed I regularly got to give out scavenger hunts and maps to families with children, some being regulars to the wood, others pleased to have discovered the wood for the first time, and many saying they’ll come back to walk again. I sold 2 more books, making a grand total of 5 – not enough to retire on, but certainly more than I expected for a small outdoor event.

It was great to hear people walking out of the wood reporting back on tales of seeing families walking around with the scavenger hunts picking up acorns and beech masts and spotting red squirrels. I also got a few leads for future events working with children and the Isle of Wight County Press photographer turned up for a photo shoot with our children in the wood, so we are hoping for some great publicity in the next paper if we’re lucky.

I’d like to thank the senior and local warden of the Isle of Wight National Trust for letting me do the event at Borthwood Copse, to the local paper and all the people who helped promote the event and who came along today.

We will be arranging a companion walk to this one, next spring, in Borthwood Copse, when the wood will be full of drifts of bluebells, and also look out for more Beachy Book walks coming in the future.

Autumn half-term wild walk in Borthwood Copse, IOW

“Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood lays down a lovely list of things for children to do in the real world of nature. I urge you to read it and then let them enact it for themselves. Only then will we have future generations who will love wildlife enough to protect it.”

Chris Packham – Naturalist and BBC broadcaster.

To celebrate the launch of Beachy Book’s second children’s book, Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood, Island author and award winning publishers, Philip and Eleanor Bell, are inviting families and children (or anybody who loves a walk) to a free wild walk and scavenger hunt in Borthwood Copse, one of the Island’s most ancient areas of woodland, owned and managed by The National Trust.

The event takes place on Sunday 23rd October, between 12 and 3pm, at Borthwood Copse, Alverstone Road, Apse Heath, off the A3056 Newport-Sandown road. There is a small Parish Council carpark near on the Alverstone road. Also No. 8 bus stop outside the Borthwood entrance.

The family walk is about a mile long, can be done at your own pace and is suitable for young children accompanied by adults. The paths around the wood may be muddy so bring wellies if you need them. Philip will be at the main entrance to Borthwood (on Alverstone road) to meet you and give you a wild wood scavenger hunt and map, which, if completed and returned to him, offers £1 off the purchase price of a signed and personalised copy of Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood. Beachy Books will be donating £1 from the sale of each book to help The National Trust’s Borthwood Copse conservation work.

Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood contains photographs taken in Borthwood Copse and the adventure was inspired by the authors’ own family walks with their two children. Philip Bell says, “Our children can be reluctant walkers at times, but when we get them out on a woodland walk they have a real adventure full of imagination, nature spotting and scavenging. And in autumn, when the leaves are turning golden and red, the wood looks gorgeous.”

Following on from their first award winning children’s book, Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood is set in an ancient wild wood. Under canopy of trees they forage like squirrels from spring to autumn, for new shoots and summer fruit, windfall seeds and fallen leaves. Climbing logs, jumping roots, avoiding woodland trolls, spotting butterflies, listening to cuckoos and woodpeckers, counting ducks and even finding a secret swing deep in the woods. The book is both part story and part nature spotter guide, with real photographs taken in some of the Island’s most beautiful woods, including Borthwood Copse.

Jack and Boo’s Wild Wood is priced at £5.99 (ISBN: 9780956298010) and can be ordered direct from the publisher, or purchased at Waterstone’s in Newport, Made On The IOW or ordered via Amazon and other online retailers and bookshops.

Make your own mini-story beachy book at Quay Arts Book Fair

Have you ever wanted to know how to make and write your own mini-children’s book? Philip Bell, award winning local children’s author and publisher at Beachy Books, will be at Quay Arts Artists’ Book Fair, Newport, Isle of Wight, on Saturday 28th May between 11am and 4pm, showing you how!

All children are welcome to come along and get a free folding paper book with top tips of how to write their own story with advice on hand from Philip and some inspiration from a display of books recently created by children from Newchurch Primary School. Philip says, “My story books will show your children how they can use their own experiences to write unique stories – and they’re great fun too!”

Philip Bell will also be signing copies of his children’s picture book, Jack and Boo’s Bucket of Treasures, which recently won the Children’s Award in the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Self Publishing awards, in association with Writers’ News and Writing Magazine, in London on May 11th 2011.

Philip says, “Jack and Boo have gained a strong following worldwide, including many Island families and children. We’d love to meet some of our fans so they can see how we make our books and get an exclusive first look at a proof of our next Jack and Boo adventure, before it’s published.”

Jack and Boo’s Bucket of Treasures follows the adventures of two children on a beach finding treasures washed ashore at low tide. It also includes lots of real world nature images, a spotter guide and family beach ideas, which combine into fun, fact-filled fiction. Beachy Books is a family-run publisher on the Isle of Wight, founded by Philip and Eleanor Bell. Jack and Boo’s Bucket of Treasures is available to buy in Waterstone’s Newport, IOW or via this website.

Bucket of Treasures coming to Waterstone’s at start of Hastings Old Town Carnival Week

Jack and Boo's Bucket of Treasures at Hastings Waterstone'sWe have our second book signing at Hastings Waterstone’s on 31st May 2010 between 11 and 5pm. We are brining along some beachy-theamed activities, such as colouring, make-your-own jack and boo picture, word searches, etc. If you want to get a personalised copy of our children’s picture book or meet us then come along.

It’s also the start of Old Town Carnival Week in Hastings with the grand opening on Winkle Island, a Tug-o-war and a free beach concert!

So come along for all this fun in Hastings plus please try and pop into Waterstone’s and get a book to keep the children entertained on your visit to Hastings. There are some wonderful beaches in East Sussex, and many of the images from the book were taken on Bexhill beach, which is just up the road and also worth a visit. Especially the De La Warr Pavilion.