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~ Hazel Harps On

A Plethora Of Penguins

You really should take a look at penguins. Penguins will help. Not only are they a welcome distraction from the news right now, but they are also deeply relevant. If you think about key penguiny (penguinesque? penguinistic?) virtues, you'll see what I mean: Resilience, courage, community spirit, resourcefulness and cheerfulness, to name but a few. During the ongoing wretchedness of the pandemic, we need to develop these qualities to help us through. Penguins are an example to us all.

It’s also hard to look at a penguin without smiling… and smiling is healthy in all sorts of ways… and, wow, don’t we desperately need to smile at the moment?

In spite of all that’s going on, I personally have a good reason to smile this month. My own tribute to these waddling wonders, Away With The Penguins, which came out in paperback last week, is now a Richard and Judy Book Club pick! For any non-Brits who happen to be reading this, Richard and Judy’s Book Club has been going for ten years and is legendary here. Any whooping or crowing seems inappropriate right now, but I'm going to permit myself a squawk and a little waddly dance of glee. It is such an honour to have my book amongst the hallowed few . What does this mean for me? Several things:


A. I had a private half-hour’s Zoom meeting with Richard and Judy themselves. The somewhat surreal conversation centred around Exmoor, book inspiration, writing processes, my eccentric octogenarian heroine, Veronica McCreedy, and, of course, penguins. I also introduced them to Purrsy who was not impressed by any of it and kept his eyes firmly closed (but he was purring so I think he’s secretly a fan, even though he’d never admit it)


B. Validation! I may have to write a separate blog about this one at some stage because it’s such a huge deal for us writers. Suffice it to say that it’s amazing to have that stamp of approval from such renowned book experts. They love my novel! I will never, never stop being being grateful.


C. As well as being in bookshops and the three major supermarkets, Away With The Penguins is now stocked in every WHSmiths in the country - and at half price: £3.99 for a proper paperback with lovely, shiny cover – what a bargain! And at last I have spotted my book for sale in my home town.


This would be a big, big hooray, but, darn it, we're not allowed out again now. Just as Away With The Penguins has finally hit the shelves in all its glory, nobody will be in the shops to buy it. These twists and turns of fate... Ah well, in the great scheme of things...

A quick aside here, because this really is important: Please check out the Children in Read Auction here. There’s a chance to buy both my books at lot 224, but you’ll also find hundreds of other fabulous reads in all genres. It’s a great source of Christmas presents and you will be supporting Children In Need, too.

Back to the penguins, because it was they who started all this. By way of celebration I’ve been running a penguin art competition via Twitter. Gorgeous penguins have been rolling in, brightening my days. Penguin sketches and penguin cartoons, penguins in scarfs and hats, a felted penguin, a wire penguin, a pumpkin lantern penguin, a green penguin, a Picasso penguin, … you name it… These are so delightful I’ve dedicated a separate page of this website to penguins and, with the permission of participants, have set up a penguin gallery. Take a look!

And, like the penguins, no matter what problems life throws at us, let's keep our peckers up and just keep waddling on.

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