New Summer stable of eco books from North Devon publisher

Olli Tooley of Blue Poppy Publishing

Olli Tooley of Blue Poppy Publishing - Credit: Viral PR

A North Devon publisher is riding a wave of delightful new books that bring the eco message to children and adults alike.

Oliver Tooley of Blue Poppy Publishing loves to tell a good yarn, but a book with a message is even better.

Ilfracombe-based Olli has forged a small business that works to help self-publishing authors in Devon and the South West get their books out to the world.

The eco message is a strong part of that, but he has also helped bring inclusivity to the fore by representing books featuring brave youngsters with disabilities Carmela Chillery-Watson and Tony Hudgell, who between them have raised almost £2million.

This summer Blue Poppy has a small stable of colourful and imaginative children’s books that are great fun, but also give young readers an insight into the wonderful world they live on – and why it should stay that way.

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Readers will delight at the tales of a chip-stealing seagull who mends her ways, a determined mouse who cleans the beaches, a family of fearsome badgers who turn out to be not so fierce and many more.

Titles include Sally the Seagull, The Badgers of Briarwood, Magpie Mouse: Princess of Lost and Found, A Clattering Beneath the Woods and The Adventures of Arthur the Earwig and What a Leaf.

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Olli has always been a staunch supporter of green issues and does his best to ensure his business is as eco-friendly as possible, reusing packaging and encouraging people to shop local.

Many books he represents have a strong Ilfracombe link, but he works with authors across Devon and the South West.

He said: “I often think if I am going to use up paper and resources, the book should have some point to it.

“Especially for children – if the book has a positive or a useful message, it’s easier to talk to them about it and to get invested in it if it is bringing something to the table.”

That doesn’t mean that a good yarn or exciting new book will be overlooked and all are welcome, but he said the eco message is coming through more and more.

He added: “I am led by what people send to me and more than ever the environment is at the forefront of peoples’ minds, so quite a few books have come out in recent years.

“Writers, as with anyone else, have a sense of what is important to people and they want to write about these things.”

Sally the Seagull, by Ilfracombe resident Naomi Cavender, is a rhyming picture book about a seagull in the fictional village of Port-O-Tat although illustrator Pat Fricker, also from Ilfracombe, clearly took her inspiration from her surroundings. The story carries dual messages of kindness and reducing plastic waste.

In The Badgers of Briarwood, by West Midlands-based Margaret Gardner and illustrated by Ilfracombe artist Maggie Davies, Mary, along with her dog and her teddy bear, bravely venture into the woods in search of a fierce badger. But when they finally encounter the badgers of Briarwood it turns out the badgers are actually very friendly.

Magpie Mouse helps a child find their lost toy on the beach and soon becomes a dedicated beach cleaner. Author Kirsty Jackson, who recently moved to Devon from Cumbria, dedicates two pages at the end of the book to The 2 Minute Foundation, originator of the ‘2 Minute Beach Clean’. Illustrations by Rebecca Frost.

The Adventures of Arthur the Earwig follows homeless Arthur in his search for somewhere to live. Eventually, he is helped when two little girls build a bug hotel. In addition to the story, written and illustrated by Ilfracombe resident Nick Dickenson, there is a non-fiction section about insects and creating habitats for them.

What a Leaf comes from Plymouth based Mike Cast. It is story of friendship told from the point of view of two very different leaves.

To find out more about any of these books and many more, visit

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