Hoo’s Kids Book Fest

I was really pleased to find out that there’s a children’s book festival – Hoo’s Kids Book Fest – taking place next month, just up the road from us.

Today’s guest post on the blog is from Guy Parker-Rees – a children’s writer who will be appearing at the festival. Guy’s post is an introduction to his latest book, Tom and Millie’s Whizzy Bizzy People and he writes about how he creates Tom and Millie’s world.

For the chance to win a family ticket to the festival, check out the competition at the end of the post.


Following on from Tom and Millie’s Great Big Treasure Hunt comes Tom and Millie’s Whizzy Busy People (out in hardback in June when Treasure Hunt is released in paperback).

It seeks to answer that very important question for a small child: what is the best job ever?

Hoo's Kids Book Fest

There is the same Richard Scarry inspired busy-ness. This time Tom and Millie visit the workplace of all their family members, spotting their friends along the way as they seek out the perfect job.

The aim of these books was to create a friendly world full of lots of little scenes to pore over, share and talk about with your child. There are hundreds of characters interacting with each other, so something new to spot each time. I also wanted to have the fun element of having to find things on the page.

As well as all the characters, I also have to think about creating the whole world they live in. I wanted Tom and Millie’s world to look familiar enough to be recognisable to a child and yet different enough to make it interesting, somewhere you would really want to visit. The key to this is a very subtle and delicate process, I bung in everything I can think of that I like.

You will see plenty of palm trees – they always cheer me up and make me think of sunnier climes. I added a few to the recycling centre, it desperately needed something to make it look a bit more exotic!

Designing the hospital took quite a bit of thought. It’s quite modernist with chunks of Mondrian block colours and there’s a good sprinkling of Frank Lloyd Wright with that stream and waterfall meandering through it.

Hoo's Kids Book Fest The café is the sort of place where I like to eat: pretty laid back and loosely based on our local “Bills” but with a good pizza oven thrown in.

Hoo's Kids Book Fest

Because these scenes took so long to paint – with the cast of hundreds – I had to do some of the drawing and painting at home. My youngest, Dylan, who was five at the time, would watch me as I painted and then do his own versions (much better than mine!). You can see in this one that he’s picked out the penguin and the pizza oven!

Hoo's Kids Book Fest

and in this one!

Hoo's Kids Book Fest

The allotment scene is inspired by Stanmer Park, not far from where we live. There’s an eco house a bit like mole’s there. The tree house is based on one Queen Victoria used to play in at Pitchford Hall in Shropshire (at 300 years, it’s the oldest tree house in the world!)

Hoo's Kids Book Fest

I love canals and feel there should be much more made of them, so they crop up here and in the recycling centre scene. Of all the spreads this is my favourite – somewhere I would be happy to hang out for quite a while.

Tom and Millie do find the ‘best job ever’ and I defy you to find a child who would disagree with their choice.

But I’m not going to tell you what it is… you’ll have to wait ‘til June.


To meet some of the other writers who will be appearing at the Festival, you can visit Mummy Whisperer, Hertfordshire Mummy and Being A Mummy.



I have a family ticket (four tickets, minimum one adult) to the Hoo’s Kids Book Festival to give away. The winner will be chosen at random.

If you would like to be entered into the competition, leave a comment below which includes the phrase ‘Please enter me into the Hoo Kids Book Fest competition’

The competition closes on Wednesday April 3rd at noon, and the winner will be notified by email that afternoon. 

Within 7 days of notification the winner is required to email confirmation of acceptance of the prize to DorkyMum, along with a postal address in the United Kingdom to which the prize can be sent.  If the winner doesn’t provide such confirmation their entry will be disqualified and an alternative winner will be chosen.

The prize cannot be transferred and no cash alternative is available.

The decision of Ruth Dawkins will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.


Disclosure: I have been provided with a family ticket to attend Hoo’s Kids Book Fest, and a ticket to give away in this competition. I have received no further payment for this post.


Update! Wednesday April 3rd. Congratulations to Claire who was drawn as the winner of the competition. An email is on its way to you right now with details of how to claim your family ticket.

Second update! Unfortunately Claire didn’t get back to me with her details so I had to draw a second winner. Congratulations BeingMrsC!

13 responses

  1. Please enter me into the Hoo Kids Book Fest competition, we love poring over books and love the sound of the festival too. Thank you!

  2. Please enter me into the Hoo Kids Book Fest competition
    Sounds like a great book and I would love to know what the best job is (but I would say its being a mummy)!

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