Beaver’s Big Adventure: A Journey Home by Magnus Weightman

Beaver’s Big Adventure, by Magnus Weightman, is a book to be read again and again, with lots of detailed pictures which are just delightful!- North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award

© Magnus Weightman 2019

Beaver has big dreams! One day he makes himself a sturdy boat and sets off on a big adventure to explore the world. Down the river and over rapids he goes, until he he’s far, far from home. How will he get back? Akita the dog offers to help him find his way. But what does Beaver’s home look like? Does he live in a nest, hanging in a tree? Or in a hiding place at the bottom of the sea? Beaver and Akita fly off in an exciting hot-air balloon ride around the world until at last, they find their way to that special place – home.

© Magnus Weightman 2019

Young explorers will love visiting all kinds of fascinating animal homes from around the world in this stunning picture book, from underground houses to icy dens, treetop homes to hidden nests. The colourful cut-away illustrations are full of details to spot and feature appealing animal families on every page.

The book includes a world map showing Beaver’s route around the globe, with facts about how each animal makes its home. A lovely story to share and the perfect starting point for discussion about animals and the environment.

Releasing October 2019

The Truth About Dinosaurs by Guido van Genechten

Five Quills is thrilled to publish Guido van Genechten‘s funny and illuminating picture book The Truth About Dinosaurs this August!

What do chickens and dinosaurs have in common? Open this book and find out! Almost everyone thinks that dinosaurs are extinct. Is that true? What if you were to find out that they’re still alive, and even living among us. Meet an ordinary chicken whose family photo album reveals the long withheld truth in this incredible but true story about dinosaurs.

Author/ illustrator, Guido van Genechten was born in Mol (Belgium), where he studied drawing, painting, graphics and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Mol. Before becoming a fulltime author/illustrator of children’s books, Guido worked in the graphic design industry. He has created many best-selling books and received several awards. Guido’s books have been published in 40 countries around the world.

The Truth About Dinosaurs ©Guido van Genechten 2019


Read the Story Behind Al’s Awesome Science

Jane Clarke tells FCBG readers the story and science behind the Al’s Awesome Science series.

“Al’s Awesome Science is a young fiction series written by Jane Clarke and illustrated by James Brown. The series follows science-mad twins Al and Lottie as they plan to build a time machine and test out various scientific theories to develop their design and prepare for space travel. The chapter books, ideal for children who are becoming more confident readers, combine exciting fictional stories with practical science information and fun, messy experiments that can easily be recreated at home. Busy Bodies!, the fourth title in the series, is published this month and Splash Down! (the second titles in the series) is currently one of only four middle grade titles shortlisted for the inaugural STEAM prize. Here, author Jane Clarke tells us more about how she has woven fact and fiction together, how the stories explore ideas of travel, and her personal journey while writing the books. ” FCBG Blog, posted May 9, 2019

Al’s Awesome Science is back, get ready for a… Splash Down!

Author Jane Clarke and illustrator James Brown team up again to bring you another science adventure!

Are you wondering if Al has given up on his time machine capsule? Of course not!! Scientists NEVER give up! Twins Al and Lottie’s exciting science adventures continue with Al’s Awesome Science: Splash Down! (June 2018), where fun and messy water-based experiments rule the day. Having decided that an egg-shape is the strongest and best shape for Al’s time machine (please see Al’s Awesome Science: Egg-speriments!), our science-loving twins must now find out what kind of covering Al’s time-machine capsule will need to survive its SPLASH DOWN! back to Earth.

In Al’s Awesome Science: Splash Down (June 2018) twins Al and Lottie try their best to keep cool on a hot summer’s day. There’s a drought and water use is limited, but the twins need water to experiment for the time machine’s SPLASH DOWN! back to Earth. In typical Boffin-style, Al and Lottie show us that perseverance is key! It is all in the planning! But how long will it take before their water-based plans take on disastrous consequences involving one overheated dog and their fastidious neighbour Mrs Good? Jam-packed with science fun, a bit of mischief and a pair of nosy neighbours, Al’s Awesome Science: Splash Down (June 2018) promises the exact same engaging format as the successful first book in the series, Al’s Awesome Science: Egg-speriments!.

Al’s water-based, child-friendly experiments, can be done at home, and are perfect for a lovely summer’s day. So scientists, grab your nearest adult and some water, and follow Al’s awesome instructions to have some fun with science! You will discover how to create a siphon, learn about water waste-management and even get a great explanation of centripetal force! (Don’t worry, Lottie helps us pronounce it!)

Al’s Awesome Science: Splash Down! releases 1st June 2018!

Alice Winter

Mother’s Day Cupcake Recipes with Sky Private Eye

Mother’s Day is all about spoiling your mum!  So why not bake her one of  Sky Private Eye’s favourite cupcake recipes to celebrate?

 Sky Private Eye is here to share her cupcake recipes with you this Mother’s Day! Make sure to find a grown-up in your family who can help, and together bake some yummy Sky Private Eye cupcakes for your wonderful Mum.


Chocolate Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Frosting


No one can resist  Sky Private Eye’s Chocolate Cupcakes with creamy vanilla frosting. In Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper, Sky Private Eye bakes her delicious Nice-Not-Nasty cupcakes for Cinderella’s Nasty Sisters, to make sure that they are never nasty again! We know you and your mum are never nasty, but these lovely chocolaty cupcakes are sure to  make this special day even sweeter!



Fluffy and Light Vanilla Cupcakes


Even the scariest wolf will become an adorable Wolfie with these irresistible fluffy and light Vanilla Cupcakes. In Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma, Sky Private Eye quickly whips together these fluffy Vanilla Just-in-Time cupcakes, making it a fantastic Bake-it-Better Day for Little Red Riding Hood and Wolfie. Try it at home and share them with your Mum!



Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


Foxy Loxy loves to gobble down Sky Private Eye’s Gingerbread Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. In Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Runaway Biscuit the Fairytale Olympics have come to town. Can the Gingerbread Boy out-run Foxy Loxy to win the final race?  Sky Private Eye’s scrumptious Gingerbread Just-in-Time cupcakes will make your Mum run-run-run towards the finish line for more!


Don’t forget to also get your grown-up to take pictures of your delicious cupcakes and tag us on Instagram @fivequillsforkids and Twitter @5quills_kids. We love seeing your creations at Five Quills HQ!

The Five Quills Team


Sky Private Eye Meets Cinderella

Sky Private Eye and her faithful dog Snuffle are back with a new Fairytale Adventure: Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper! Help Sky Private Eye and Snuffle solve this latest mystery featuring a very special Cinderella and her Nasty Sisters!

© FiveQuills 2018

Today is an EXTRA special day because not only is it World Book Day (gasp!) but it is also publication day for the new Sky Private Eye book! So why not pull out your TriOculars and see if you can detect Sky Private Eye and The Case of the Sparkly Slipper in your local bookshop!

The latest book in the series sees Sky Private Eye investigate her trickiest case yet. The winner of the Prince’s Best Costume Competition has vanished and all she has left behind is a sparkly slipper. Can Sky Private Eye find the mystery winner? Follow Sky Private Eye on her journey through Fairytale Town as she interviews possible witnesses and suspects – all in fancy dress, of course! Can you see past the disguises and figure out who’s who? Wait, is that Jack dressed as a beanstalk?!

©Five Quills 2018

No detective story is complete without a yummy cupcake recipe, so when you are finished reading, grab a grown-up and start baking your very own Sky Private Eye’s Chocolate Cupcakes! Don’t forget to also get your grown-up to take pictures and tag us on Instagram @fivequillsforkids and Twitter @5quills_kids. We love seeing your creations at Five Quills HQ!

The Sky Private Eye series is perfect for curious and inquisitive young readers. Find her latest adventure Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper by Jane Clarke and illustrated by Loretta Schauer in your local bookshop or on our website.

The Five Quills Team

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Favourite Fairy Tales

Ask someone to tell you the fairy tales they remember from their childhood, and they will likely have an answer within seconds. Here the Five Quills team discuss the stories they grew up with and explore this millennia-spanning genre with folklore scholar Michèle Simonsen.

“In European traditional society, tales of magic were told for grown-ups, to pass the time during tedious work,” explains author and folklore scholar Michèle Simonsen. “They also had a psychosocial function of wishful thinking. A world turned upside down where the poor and oppressed became rich and powerful.

Shortly after the publication of the Grimm Brothers’ Household Tales, the audience changed completely, from rural adults to children of the bourgeoisie; oral performance gave way to written texts.

Their function also changed, from wishful thinking to the moral education of children. It is not surprising that the meaning of tales altered, sometimes considerably. Cinderella is a case in point.”

A Ladybird Easy-Reading Book, Well-Loved Tales, Cinderella © Ladybird

A Ladybird Easy-Reading Book, Well-Loved Tales, Cinderella © Ladybird

“Cinderella is a very complex tale, widespread in the whole of Europe, but known too in the other continents. Its many recorded versions take many forms. In most cases, Cinderella does not get help from her fairy godmother, but by visiting the tomb of her dead mother. She finds her pretty clothes in a nut or on the branches of a tree which grows on her mother’s tomb. Moreover, in most French traditional versions, Cinderella and her sisters are not going to the ball, but to church. This is where rural populations met once a week, where contracts were agreed upon, where young men could flirt with young women. Cinderella is not prevented to go to church by her evil family; on the contrary, she refuses to go out, preferring to stay at home, “near the ashes”: social phobia or lack of maturity? In one version, her father states explicitly:

“Poor Cinderella! Won’t you leave the hearth? Then we will never get you married!”

“The first fairytale I have clear memories of reading was Cinderella,” Sky Private Eye author Jane Clarke reminisces, “The pictures I see in my mind’s eye are from the Ladybird version. I remember finding the Ugly Sisters and the mice more interesting than Cinderella, despite the wonderful ball gowns she wore.  And, even then, I was unimpressed with the idea of being rescued by a handsome prince! Now I have granddaughters, I’m especially keen that they don’t feel the need to be rescued by a Prince, handsome or otherwise. It’s not a new idea, of course, as a library assistant in the late 1980s I loved sharing the wonderful The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko.”

Fairy Tales have always been part of my life

“Some of my earliest memories are of being told the stories by my mum and dad,” continues Jane. “They were both members of the local amateur dramatics society, so the telling was very dramatic and they used lots of different voices.  I can still hear all three of my Dad’s Billy Goats Gruff in my head! I especially loved it when there was a refrain I could join in with, it became part of the telling.”

Brother Grimm Fairy Tales, Knaur Publishers

“My first memory of fairy tales was listening to my mother read the Brothers Grimm in German,” Daniela Schneider, Five Quills founder and publisher, remembers, “I was shocked by Cinderella when the sisters hacked off their toes or parts of their foot just to make the slipper fit. I never understood how the Prince was oblivious to the blood gushing from their feet and covering the lovely golden slipper!”

For many of us, like Jane, Ladybird’s Well-Loved Tales, published between 1964 and the early 1990s, were our introduction to fairy tales as children. Mostly based on the stories by Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, their first title, interestingly, was Cinderella. For me, as a writer, Thumbelina, the little girl who came out of a tulip, facing the challenge of being half as big as a thumb, and The Ugly Duckling who turns out to be a swan, are the Well-Loved Tales that sparked my imagination as a child. Sky Private Eye illustrator Loretta Schauer always comes back to Snow White and Rose Red, the two sisters who befriend a bear, a king’s son put under a spell by an ungrateful dwarf.

The endpapers of Ladybird's Well-Loved Tales © Ladybird

The instantly recognisable endpapers of Ladybird’s Well-Loved Tales © Ladybird


Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper © Five Quills 2018

A new Cinderella story for younger readers, Sky Private Eye and The Case of the Sparkly Slipper, written by Jane Clarke and illustrated by Loretta Schauer, comes out in March 2018.

Get a first look at some of the illustrations from the new book, here.

Sky Private Eye books.




Edited by Janey Robinson

A Cinderella Story with Sky Private Eye

The Case of the Sparkly Slipper 

Looking at the year ahead, there’s a lot to look forward to at Five Quills HQ. First up, it’s the third instalment of the Sky Private Eye picture book series, out this spring. Sky Private Eye and The Case of the Sparkly Slipper by Jane Clarke, illustrated by Loretta Schauer, is a Cinderella story with a fancy dress twist. We meet the Prince at his Fancy Dress Ball, the winner of the best costume prize has vanished, but she’s left behind a sparkly slipper. Sky Private Eye combines her baking and detective skills to solve the mystery. I sat down with illustrator Loretta Schauer to get a first look at some of the illustrations from the new book and talk fairy tale characters in fancy dress.

The fancy dress ball scene (above) is a feast for the eyes, how did you choose the fancy dress costumes for all the fairy tale characters?

Billy Goat Gruff from Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2018

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2018

The original idea was to have the fairy tale characters dressed up as each other, but I decided to mix things up a little to give some more variety. Sometimes I swapped characters within the same tale, like the owl and the pussycat dressed as each other, and sometimes I swapped characters between stories, such as the Three Bears dressed up as the Three Little Pigs.

What was important to you when thinking about how you wanted the costumes to look?

I wanted the costumes to look homemade. My mum and I were always making costumes at home, and I wanted these costumes to look as if Cinderella might have made them all herself. In The Case of the Sparkly Slipper, you can see the stitching on the costumes and that some of the characters are wearing costumes made out of cardboard boxes.

I hope it will encourage kids to make their own outfits, as making them is all part of the fun.

The Big Bad Wolf, the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk and the Billy Goats Gruff all make appearances. What inspiration did you draw upon to recreate these iconic characters?

Little Pig from Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2018

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2018

The stories in the Sky Private Eye series often feature a little twist to the traditional fairytales so it was fun shifting the character traits around for their fancy dress outfits too. Having the Big Bad Wolf dressed up as Bo Peep and the Three Little Pigs running about pretending to be the Big Bad Wolf gave them different roles and makes you look twice to see who’s who behind the costume.

I also tried to include dressing up costumes that are popular with children, I thought the Billy Goats Gruff were perfect pirates and green-fingered Jack would enjoy dressing up as a beanstalk.

Cinderella’s costume is a showstopper and deserving winner of the Prince’s prize, how did her outfit come to life?

Cinderella from Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2018

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2018

Cinderella’s costume took time to get right. At first, I drew her as an astronaut with her visor down, to hide her face, as the mystery of her identity is important to the plot. I was inspired by the British astronaut, Tim Peake, following his stint on the International Space station which had just happened as I was illustrating the book.

I wanted to break from the traditional role of what girls can aspire to be. I also had images of David Bowie’s Star Man in mind and brought a lot of that energy to the early illustrations. This evolved into the final sparkly rocket-powered astro dress you will see in the book.

If Sky Private Eye were to choose a fancy dress costume, what do you think she’d wear?

I think Sky would come in a spectacular cake themed costume with Snuffles as a macaroon.


Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Sparkly Slipper © Five Quills 2018

Sky Private Eye and The Case of the Sparkly Slipper, by Jane Clarke and illustrated by Loretta Schauer, comes out in March 2018.

Sky Private Eye books.





Edited by Janey Robinson

Five Stars For Five Quills Children’s Books

Sky Private Eye and Al’s Awesome Science receive five stars from Toppsta reviewers!

Toppsta reviewers give Five Quills children’s books Sky Private Eye and Al’s Awesome Science five stars.  Their reviewers include children, parents, teachers and a variety of family members.

What have Toppsta readers said about our books? 

 Five Star reviews for Al’s Awesome Science: Splashdown! 

“Great book for getting kids interested in science. Lots of drawings to try and follow the experiments. Going to get my mum to try some at the weekend.” -Reviewer Aged 9

“Both my girls 6 & 3 liked this book a lot. The eldest found it easy to read and loved the sketches, I’ve been asked a number of times since reading it if we can do some of the experiments! We will be trying some in the next school holidays.” -Reviewer, Mum read to children aged 3 & 6.

“This book is a great way to inspire children to think about science in a fun way. The book contains some fun sketchy style illustrations and the book is broken up with some fun science experiments that can be easily replicated at home with help.” -Reviewer, Mum read to children aged 5 & 7





Five Star Reviews for Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma

“My niece absolutely loved this book ..she especially enjoyed the cupcakes. She made me read it to her several times. This is a fab book and I would highly recommend it to anybody who’s children love going on adventures.” – Reviewer, Aunt read to niece aged 4

“My class really enjoyed this book. They were excited to see Little Red Riding Hood taking on a different role and trying to save Grandma! I will look out for other stories in the series they are great! “ – Reviewer, Primary School Teacher read to classes aged 4 & 6

Five  Star Reviews for Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Runaway Biscuit

“A story full of cupcakes, fairy tales and a detective. This story has a very different twist to gingerbread man, in this case with a happy ending, where the gingerbread boy wants to run the olympics and he manages to do that after sky, the detective, gives cupcakes to the fox and they get covered when the rain comes.” -Reviewer, Mum read to son aged 3

“The first thing to comment on with this book are the beautiful illustrations which really bring the story to life. My 2 year old daughter was pointing things out and really engaged with the images as I read to her. The story is positive and upbeat and can easily be read as a bedtime story as it’s short enough but has enough content to make for a lovely part of the bedtime routine. My daughter loves this and we’ve already read it twice in just a few days! ” -Reviewer, Mum read to daughter aged 2

“The Gingerbread Man is one of my little one’s favourite fairy tales so this book was a big successful in our house. It has the familiar story but told in a new way. Sky Private Eye is enlisted to help find the Gingerbread Man after he goes missing and she uses her investigative skills to find him.” – Reviewer, Mum read to daughter aged 3

Sky Private Eye: Reimagining Fairy Tales

Keeping Ancient Stories Alive

Fairy tale legends Little Red Riding Hood and the Gingerbread Man inspired the first two stories in the Sky Private Eye picture book series. Here we explore the origins of these icons and the importance of reimagining fairy tales.

Fairy tales have been around for thousands of years, their origins are notoriously difficult to trace. Beginning life as folk tales they followed ancient oral tradition, told and retold over the generations.

The Brothers Grimm published folklore in the nineteenth century; finally giving the world the most comprehensive written record of the many tales we know and love today. With elements of magic, strong characters embodying good versus evil and lessons for young children to learn, fairy tales are timeless.

The Sky Private Eye picture book series from Five Quills, written by Jane Clarke and illustrated by Loretta Schauer, is set in a fairy tale world. The books give a modern twist to well-known tales with an exciting new detective, Sky Private Eye. Sky uses magic, wit and her faithful dog Snuffle to piece together fairy tale mysteries.

Daniela Schneider, Five Quills founder and publisher, explains,

“the reason I chose fairy tales for this series is because my first memory of being read to as a child was listening to my mother read the Brothers Grimm in German. In my opinion fairy tales remain the perfect introduction to literature for young children”.

The first Sky Private Eye picture book features Little Red Riding Hood. The original Little Red tale is believed to have started life around two thousand years ago as The Wolf and the Kids, in the Middle East. This is thought to have spread to Europe where it became the Little Red Riding Hood we know, and also to East Asia where other versions such as The Tiger Grandmother emerged. All adaptations include an animal pretending to be something else. The message is consistent, be aware of strangers; they may not be what they seem.

Reimagining Fairy Tales: Wolfie Eating A Hotdog. Sky Private Eye Series. Illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills

Sky Private Eye Series. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2017

Little Red Riding Hood in Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma is a little savvier than earlier incarnations, heading straight for help from detective Sky Private Eye when she fears the worst has happened to her Grandma. The big bad wolf is not so bad either; he has the potential to be tamed.

The second Sky Private Eye picture book features a Gingerbread Boy as inspired by the Gingerbread Man fairy tale. The most common telling of this story was seen in print in America in the late nineteenth century. It started life as The Runaway or Fleeing Pancake in Norway and Germany, printed around fifty years earlier. Less widespread versions include an American Johnny Cake, English pudding, Irish cake and Scottish bannock as the protagonists. All of these tales include a baked good that pops out of the oven or pan, then runs or rolls away escaping a series of pursuers before being eaten by a character they thought they could trust.

Reimagining Fairy Tales: Foxy and the Runaway Biscuit. Sky Private Eye Series. Illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills

Foxy and the Runaway Biscuit. Sky Private Eye Series. By Jane Clarke & illustrated by Loretta Schauer. ©Five Quills 2017

In Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Runaway Biscuit, the Gingerbread Boy has his sights set on competing in the Fairytale Olympics, but a hungry fox is in pursuit. Thankfully Sky’s magic cupcakes redirect Foxy Loxy’s intentions. Reimagining fairy tales keep these ancient stories alive.

Look out for the next instalment from Sky Private Eye, in Spring 2018, when a prince needs Sky’s help to hunt down the owner of a sparkly slipper.

“Fairy tales spark the imagination,” Daniela concludes, “I hope our Sky Private Eye stories will encourage parents to go and look for the original tales and read them to their children as well”.

Sky Private Eye Books

Sky Private Eye ©Five Quills

Sky Private Eye ©Five Quills 2017








Edited by Janey Robinson