By Melissa Harrison
Illustrated by Lauren O'Hara
A whimsical, wonderful masterpiece. By Ash, Oak and Thorn is one of the most beautiful children's books I've read in a long time.
For a story about three tiny beings, their hearts and message are the biggest. Perfectly pitched as The Borrowers in the wild world, Harrison's timely, and timeless, tale of friendship, harmony and nature, will unearth a curiosity within its little readers and inspire a new found love and respect for the wilderness we call our home. After reading, walks became adventures, with the exciting possibility that little Hidden Folk may be scurrying beneath fallen leaves. Acorns are fashionable, fairies once again live at the bottom of the garden, and our steps are taken with kindness and care.
But like our own natural world, the Hidden Folk, the ancient Guardians of the Wild World, are disappearing and with it our protectors of the environment. Delicate in her approach, Harrison offers us a connection to the wild world, and with it the hope and encouragement to love, protect and restore it.
Thoughtful, friendly, and sprinkled with wisdom, wit and wonder, By Ash, Oak and Thorn is a book that demands to be read again and again. It's an undeniable classic in the making, echoing the impressive likes of The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh and BB’s The Little Grey Men. And I'm overjoyed that this won't be the last we hear of Moss, Burnet and Cumulus, Spangle the cheeky starling, Vesper the city fox and all their other wild and wonderful friends!
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Melissa Harrison is an award-winning novelist and nature writer who lives in Suffolk. Melissa contributes a monthly Nature Notebook column to The Times and is the writer and presenter of the hit nature podcast ‘The Stubborn Light of Things’. She has appeared on Springwatch and Springwatch Unsprung, and speaks regularly on the radio.
'Stories were a crucial way in which I connected with nature as a little girl, imaginatively and emotionally. I'd love to see a new wave of children's nature writing follow these books and help today's kids do the same. I wanted to write something that was accessible and inclusive, funny and magical – that didn’t prioritise the countryside over the city, and that allowed children to understand that other creatures are as real as they are – that humans are not the only actors on the stage.'