‘Deep in the Whispering Woods’ story writing competition: winners announced

‘Deep in the Whispering Woods’ story writing competition: winners announced

Deep in the Whispering Woods: An Imagination Journal for Story Writers is the next book in the Sojo & Mouse publishing pipeline and the author, Holly Staniford asked for input from the best people in the world…kids!

She ran a competition via Fish in a Tree, which we also shouted about all over our social media too. Lorry loads of incredible stories were sent over to the judges to enjoy with a lovely cuppa. Let me remind you who the judges are.

The time has come to shout about the fabulous winners of our short story competition!

Our judges were truly dazzled by the originality and imaginations of all the children involved.  Thank you so much for your incredible work.

Huge congratulations to our worthy winners from three age categories. 

Drum roll please…

Bertie Zanker

Freya Bentley

Umar Ibrahim

Emily Sheath

Rowan Lounds

Freya Topliss

Lamorna Peake

This talented bunch will have their stories published in, Deep in the Whispering Woods: An Imagination Journal for Story Writers.

Sojo chats with the kids at Awen about their venture into making children’s books

Sojo chats with the kids at Awen about their venture into making children’s books

Awen is a democratic, free-to-attend school in Cardiff, set up by Charlotte Church. This is the school’s very first year of existence and the 20 brilliant children that I’ve been lucky to start working with have been given the task to dream up what they want their school to be. I mean….come on….what an absolutely beautiful opportunity! Just imagine what you might have dreamt up in their position.

Some days they bring their dogs to school! I KNOW!

Anyway, sorry for the all caps, it just gets me very excited when kids are given creative freedom. It’s a sure-fire way to awesomeness, in my opinion.

I (Sophie) have been hopping across to Cardiff to work with the kids for a while now, whilst wearing my Sojo Animation hat, but yesterday I was in full Sojo & Mouse mode because…

…the Awen kids are creating children’s books

and they mean business!

They have split themselves into 3 story groups made up of the following roles:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Illustrator
  • Dramaturg
  • Performer

So I had the treat of listening, via the power of the internet, to three, fresh stories while they are still in those early stages of infinite possibilities. I got to ask prying questions like “Just quite how massive does he get?”, “What kind of age do you think of it being?” and “What’s its voice like?”.

In a week or so they will be sharing finished stories and early illustration ideas with school children and asking for feedback before edging closer to getting, potentially all three stories, print ready. They are an ambitious bunch!

The fourth group of kids to jump onto my computer screen were ‘The Business Group’. Oh gosh what a mountain of a task that lays ahead of them. I had asked them to watch the Sojo & Mouse kickstarter campaign video to quickly explain how Helen (Mouse) and I had gone about funding that initial print run. They were full of confidence, passion and ideas about possible avenues they could take.

I can’t wait to see their stories as they develop further and I am intrigued to know whether they opt to knock down the doors of the publishing giants, approach some of the independents, or set up their very own publishing company. Something tells me it’s going to be the latter.

Here’s a vlog I made a few weeks ago about my time at Awen, incase you’re interested.

The Grumpy Hamster @ The Hungry Caterpillar Cafe

Long Eaton, we’re heading your way! After a lovely workshop afternoon at the Hockley Hustle, we’re excited to be taking this grumpy little guy over to Long Eaton for a session at the lovely Hungry Caterpillar Cafe. 
The workshop will be taking place in the Community Room above the cafe, and you and your little one will get a chance to hear the story, play some fun games, exploring what happens when we get angry and how we can change our crossness into useful stuff. Also you’ll get to make your very own Grumpy Hamster to take with you.

The cost of the workshop is £8 and includes your own copy of The Grumpy Hamster to take away with you, which would usually cost you £6.99! Bargain, huh?! And if you have more than one grumpy child, then any extra siblings are just £2. 

If you’d like more information, please drop us an email to hello@sojoandmouse.com, or simply book a place by clicking the relevant button below

One space for workshop: Buy Now Button Two spaces for siblings: Buy Now Button

The Grumpy Hamster Anger Management Workshop @Young Hustlers #2

Thank you to all of you who joined us for some seriously grumpy crafty, storytelling fun at Young Hustlers in Sneinton.

We LOVED sharing our brand new story with you, ‘The Grumpy Hamster’ and hearing all about what makes you feel really cross.

The hamsters you made were nothing short of incredible! I can’t believe how GRUMPY they all were!  Turns out hamsters get cross about the same issues as us humans.

Remember to order your copy of the book so you can talk about your crossness at home too.

Have a look at all these amazingly grumpy hamsters you made…


The Grumpy Hamster

Look inside ‘The Grumpy Hamster’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Grumpy Hamster is fed up with feeling cross.  Luckily he meets a wise old pigeon  who tells him a secret…

“You can turn your crossness into useful stuff.”

A particularly grumpy picture book for young children.

Ships to UK only

£6.99 (+£2 p&p)

buy now

The Glowing Snowman

Look inside ‘The Glowing Snowman’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Glowing Snowman –                      

Written by Helen Goodbarton, and illustrated by Sophie Johnson-Hill 

A lonely snowman is left in the woods, wishing for some company, when an accident with a firefly suddenly changes everything…

A charming Christmassy picture book for young children.

Ships to UK only

£6.99 (+£2 p&p)

buy now




The Snowman Glows!

What a year, hey? We’ve been busy down at Sojo Publishing Mouse.

After Sophie visited our schools and got some amazing creations from the children involved she beavered away at the illustrations (although there are no beavers in the finished book; squirrels and rabbits, yes)

Helen spent the majority of the first half of the year learning how to Mum. The plan was to also to write a few more bits and bobs, but turns out Mumming is super tricky! Luckily Helen already has 2 or 3 projects up her sleeve anyway.

Then came October, and it all started coming together. And there was this little campaign

Which was just amazing! 138 backers helped us raise money to print all our books, and have funds to help market it and invest in further projects.

So now we have these! And we’re ready to get them out there, at just £6.99 each (plus p&p)

…well, nearly ready. Helen just has to set up the online payment portal for you, do please check again at the weekend, it should be ready.

But if you’re super eager, and can get yourself to Nottingham, head to the Five Leaves Bookshop who have our first few copies on their shelves!

OR you can join Helen on the 1st December at The Milk Lounge in Beeston for a reading/workshop session for 5s and under (please book via our Facebook page) where copies will be available for sale.

OR you can head to the Sherwood Community Centre Christmas Fayre on the 3rd of December for similar, as well as a few left over goodies from our Kickstarter!

So, here we go! The Snowman Glows, and the Mouse has been let loose. It’s all go, go, go!

‘The Glowing Snowman’ Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter campaign pic

Hooray! The Glowing Snowman Kickstarter campaign is live and already creeping towards the halfway mark.  We have 11 days left to hit our target of £3000 or we get nothing…nada…zilch!

We hope you enjoy our slightly bonkers campaign video.  Apologies about the badger poo.

Please check out the rewards because they are all designed to make your Christmas very easy.

Donate.  Share.  Spread the mother loving’ word.

Sojo Publishing Mouse comes to Cotgrave Church of England Primary School.


Yesterday we were at Cotgrave C of E Primary School to meet the BRILLIANT kids in reception, year 1 and year 2, to pick their brains about the illustrations for our brand new Christmas story ‘The Glowing Snowman’, to be published October 2017. Thank you to all of the children and the staff, Sophie loved her morning with you.

If you would like a Sojo Publishing Mouse workshop at your school you can send us a message via our Facebook page or email sojopublishingmouse@gmail.com