Monday 29 January 2024


As has become tradition, I'm here to mark the start of a new book year with some smashing, upcoming picture books titles. 

So, hold onto your library cards and 'to be read' piles... here are 24 picture books publishing in 2024 that caught my eye. (There may be some books from your resident Picture Book Den bloggers, too!)

I LOVE YOU MORE by Clare Helen Welsh and Kevin and Kristen Howdeshell (4th January)

A heartfelt celebration of parental love and the beauty of nature.
How much does Mum love her little Rae? More than seal pups and penguins love their icy home, more than dolphins love the boundless sea or lions love to race and roar, more even than all the stars, the moon and the sun combined. In fact, she loves her more than words can even say . . .
A beautiful, lyrical story which reassures children that the love between a parent and child is unconditional and everlasting, whilst encouraging them to explore and discover, to change and grow.

MEET THE DINOSAURS by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woolvin (18th January) 

ZOOOOM! We're off on an exciting journey into the past to meet the amazing dinosaurs that once roamed the earth.
Join in with the rhymes and get ready to spot all the friendly (and not so friendly!) dinosaurs, from the huge Brontosaurus and amazing Diplodocus to the speedy Velociraptor and scary T-Rex. Little ones will have an action-packed time (and be back in time for bed!) in this fun and fact-packed picture book.

This bold, bright follow-up to the acclaimed picture books Meet the Planets, Meet the Oceans and Meet the Weather is filled with ALL your favourite dinos. Combining STEM learning with a rhyming twist, it's perfect for all would-be palaeontologists.


SNAIL IN SPACE by Rachel Bright and Nadia Shireen (18th January) 

A riotous, rousing celebration of self‑belief starring the one and only Gail the Snail!


IT'S TIME TO HUSH AND SAY GOODNIGHT by Chitra Soundar and Sandra Prabhat (1st February)

A dream-ride of a bedtime book, inspired by ancient Indian lullabies.

Travel a lush dreamscape world as a father lulls his toddler towards sleep, weaving a quilt of dreams across the roaring seas and through the inky night - and dealing with some big toddler emotions en route. Sumptuously illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat, and infused with the spirit and flora and fauna of India.


ONE GOOSE, TWO MOOSE by Kael Tudor and Nicola Slater (February 1st)

A brilliantly funny book from debut author Kael Tudor filled with hilarious and bright illustrations from Nicola Slater, the bestselling illustrator of THE LEAF THIEF! 

OK, everyone, line up! 
One goose, two moose, three goose, four. 
Five goose, six moose, seven goose, more. 

Welcome to the ice cream shop, where there's a goose line, a moose line and a slightly bossy goose who wants everyone to be IN THE RIGHT LINE, PLEASE!

That sounds easy enough, doesn't it?

This brilliantly funny picture book perfectly captures the chaos of queueing up, and features a fun counting element too.


THERE'S A TIGER ON THE TRAIN by Mariesa Dulak and Rebecca Cobb (February 1st)

You'll never guess what happened

On our trip down to the sea . . . 

A tiger in a top hat 

Came and sat right next to me! 

A little boy and his dad board the train for an EXTRAORDINARY journey. There’s a family of hippos, a band of crocs, a mummy pig and piglets, and a pug in a boa - or two... But who invited the Tiger in the Top Hat? And will Dad ever look up from his phone to notice? 

A rhyming romp of a tale from debut author, Mariesa Dulak, and award-winner Rebecca Cobb, (illustrator of The Everywhere Bear) about the importance of living in the moment.


I REALLY REALLY NEED A POO! by Karl Newson and Duncan Beedie (1st February)

The hilarious third picture book in the internationally bestselling I Really, Really Need a Wee series by the dynamic duo Karl Newson and Duncan Beedie. The perfect toilet humour book for kids!

Parp! Toot!
Uh-oh! Bush Baby has a little secret and it rhymes with number two . . .
She really, really, really, really needs a POO!
But all the toilets are too tiny or taken.
Will she find the perfect place to poo,
or will there be poo-poo pandemonium!

With plenty of parps and packed with poop, this funny poo book for children and toddlers is ideal for anyone who laughs out loud at the word POO! I Really, Really Need a Poo will appeal to children who enjoyed The Dinosaur That Pooped series by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter, The Dragon with the Blazing Bottom by Beach, and I Need a New Bum! by Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird.


THERE'S A GORILLA AT THE DOOR by Clare Helen Welsh and Sam Caldwell (1st February)

Daphne’s mum and stepdad, Anthony, are throwing a family party. It’s going to be SO BORING! But when a gorilla knocks on the door, a rhino rolls in and a kangaroo pops up, Daphne realises that this party is going to get . . . WILD!

This joyous tale explores themes of belonging in a blended-family environment with a subtle nod to the interconnected animal family we all, as humans, share. In this light, funny read-aloud, children will love the accumulative animal action and will enjoy picking their favourite animal party guest! There’s a Gorilla at the Door! will delight readers of The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright and Jim Field, You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman, and There's Nothing Faster Than a Cheetah by Tom Nicoll and Ross Collins.


A SWIFT RETURN by Fiona Barker and Howard Gray (22nd February)

Aria has her head in the clouds. Yusuf keeps his feet on the ground. But when they work together to save a bird who has lost her way, something magical happens. When Swift loses her way on her epic migration. Aria and Yusuf come to her rescue and are inspired to think big about looking after the sky above their city. 

Inspired by Fiona and Howard's love for wildlife of all kinds and is the follow-up to Setsuko and the Song of the Sea. Howard's beautiful illustrations evoke a strong sense of place, strengthened by the beautiful Arabic text distilled by Maysoon AbuBlan.


LUNA LOVES GARDENING by Joseph Coehlo and Fiona Lumbers (7th March)

By award-winning Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho, the fifth book in the Luna Loves... series brings alive the art of gardening.

Luna is wowed by her local community garden, there are squashes and runner beans, potatoes and tomatoes and even an apple tree. But each plant hides a story. Grandpa and Nana show her the Callaloo their family grew in Jamaica. It’s time for Luna to grab a trowel and sow seeds that will tell a new story for the whole community as they all discover their connection to the entire world.


BE MY SUNFLOWER, Kathryn Simmonds and Rosalind Beardshaw (7th March )

A warm and reassuring picture book about finding your courage even when you'd rather play it safe.
The children are planting sunflowers at school and Carla gets given a seed called Vernon. All the other children's seeds are excited to get out of the packet and start growing. Not Vernon. He knows about slugs, and birds, and thunderstorms. The world is scary.

Carla waters him lovingly, but Vernon is the only seed that doesn't grow into a seedling. "Safe and snug, snug and safe," mutters Vernon, until he realizes how upset Carla is. Vernon understands that he needs to pluck up his courage, push himself out of the ground, and face the world. He needs to do it for Carla. And as Vernon blossoms into a sunflower, he discovers that although the world is not perfect, it can be... wonderful.


KINDESS ROCKS , Sheryl Webster and Robert Garcia (5th March)

A heartwarming self-discovery journey where a rock star learns that the path to true fulfillment is paved with acts of compassion and connection.

Meet Jonny Heart, a rock star whose melodies bring happiness to all who hear them. When offered stardom by the charismatic Fat Cat, Jonny dives into a whirlwind of fame, glitter, and music. Yet, amidst the glitz, Jonny begins to miss the simple joys of life. An unexpected encounter with Busky Soul, a homeless bear, sets Jonny on an extraordinary journey, as he bridges his passion for music with the power of compassion.

Author Sheryl Webster and illustrator Robert GarcĂ­a beautifully unfold a heartwarming tale that inspires readers of all ages to spread joy through acts of kindness. Join Jonny on his quest of self-discovery, and let this enchanting story remind you that sometimes, the smallest gestures can create the most significant impact.


IS IT A SEED? by Emily Davison and Adriena Fong (2nd April)

A fun-filled and creative journey through a child's imagination, as they try to envision the many varied outcomes for a little seed they find. But will they be patient enough to see the end result?

Get ready for a captivating journey of imagination in Is it a Seed? Hold on tight as you join in the excitement of discovering a mysterious seed. With vivid curiosity, our young explorers wonder what it could become. Will it sprout into a lone flower? Or could it transform into something truly extraordinary? As the seed takes root, wild dreams unfold. Could it grow into a sprawling tree, offering shade and adventure? Or perhaps a colossal beanstalk leading to a magical kingdom?

Emily Ann Davison's wonderfully lyrical text is breathtakingly illustrated by Adriena Fong and is a celebration of imagination, growth, and the thrilling anticipation of the unknown.


THE LIBRARY MOUSE, by Frances Tosdevin and Sophia O'Connor (4th April)

Quill, the mouse, is a dreamer! He longs to write stories and share them with children in his beloved library. But getting his words noticed seems impossible for such a small creature. Can he and his spider friend, Leggsy, find a way to make his voice stand out from the crowd ― or will Quill’s stories remain forever unheard?


HERE BE GIANTS, by Susannah Lloyd and Paddy Donnelly (4th April)

The hero of this book, a rather hapless knight, has just come across a most fortuitous find.

All the other knights in the kingdom say he could never track down a giant, but he has something quite special… a  book with all the tips he needs to help him on his quest, and he couldn’t have found it sooner, for here be GIANTS!

And so, with his long-suffering horse, and his nose in his precious book "How to Spot a Giant Before He Spots You", the knight sets off to find a giant. He looks out for BIG things, but all he can find are tiny forest creatures and an exasperated damsel who are all much too small. Next, he tries going UP. He obliviously passes a beanstalk and scales a great rock instead (the giant’s leg). More obstacles appear: thunder (the giant’s tummy rumbling), fierce winds (the giant hungrily sniffing him), and rain (the giant’s drool). Undeterred, the knight whips out his trusty umbrella and takes shelter in a grassy meadow (the giant’s leafy sandwich!) … Will this unobservant hero see what’s in front of him before it’s too late?
Young readers will love the “he’s behind you!” feel of this laugh-out-loud story in this follow-up to Here Be Dragons from Susannah Lloyd and Paddy Donnelly.


BRIAN THE LION WHO LEARNED by Frances Stickley and Chris Chatterton (11th April)

A warm and wise picture book that's great for learning about respecting others - illustrated by the bestselling illustrator of The Hugasaurus.

Brian the lion is the mightiest, bitiest beast in the jungle and he's certain all the other animals LOVE him... Until one day he finds out they're all just too scared to stand up to him! Can the King of the Jungle learn to change his ways and think of others?

A delightful and gently thought-provoking rhyming text by acclaimed author Frances Stickley is perfectly paired with gorgeously expressive illustrations from bestselling illustrator Chris Chatterton.


BIG BAG WOLF INVESTIGATES SCIENCE by Catherine Cawthorne and Sarah Oligive (25th April)

Join the Big Bad Wolf as he debunks our favourite fairy tales with SCIENCE! Written by the hilarious Catherine Cawthorne and illustrated by award-winning Sara Ogilvie.

Did a princess really feel a tiny pea through a mountain of mattresses? And could a pumpkin actually turn into a carriage to carry Cinderella to the ball? Of course not! It's all a load of fairytale NONSENSE! Or is it . . . ? The Big Bad Wolf is on a mission to find the truth behind these tales, and clear his name in the process.
Combining STEM topics with classic stories children know and love, this is perfect for inquisitive children always asking big questions!


 RAINBOW FLAMINGO by Catherine Emmett and Claire Powell (23rd May) 

This one young flamingo, Adele was her name,  
Knew under HER wings something wasn’t the same.  
Whilst unremarkably pink from outside … 
Inside were some colours she struggled to hide! 

Adele wants nothing more than to fit in. And she is DESPERATE for her feathers to be pink like all the other flamingos. But as the flamingos prepare to perform in the fabulous Flamboyance parade, Adele begins to discover that standing out isn’t so bad after all . . .  

This heart-warming story will show children the pride and joy that can be found in being yourself.  


MOON BEAR by Clare Helen Welsh and Carolina T Godina (6th June)

In this enchantingly illustrated, almost wordless picture book, a story of courage and creativity unfolds when a girl who is afraid of the dark meets a magical moon bear who is afraid of the light.

Ettie is afraid of the dark. Every night without fail her Mummy calls, 'Time for bed, Ettie!' The curtains pull shut, her bedside light blinks out and Ettie is surrounded by the deep inky cloak of the dark…

… Until one night, the bright moon shines through a crack in her curtains. Cautiously, Ettie reaches out a hand to touch the light and is surprised to find that it leaves a glittering mark on her hands. Overcome with curiosity and joy, Ettie dances around her room, drawing with this magical beam of moonlight. She pulls open her curtains and begins to connect the stars in the sky as if they were dots. A moon bear slowly appears in the sky, and when she connects the very last dot, he bursts into life, standing in Ettie’s very own bedroom.

The bear and Ettie begin to play and explore Ettie’s room. But when Ettie switches on her torch, the bear hides away in fear. Together, Ettie and the moon bear help each other face their fears. One is afraid of the dark and the other is afraid of the light.

This touching story encourages little ones to be brave, in the dark and beyond, empowering them to face their fears. This beautiful book also teaches them the power of visual communication – it’s a story that says so much with only a few words, and speaks instead with comforting illustrations to soothe and reassure.

Colours of Things! is a stylist preschool picture book which will encourage children to practise choosing, categorising and spotting familiar everyday objects. With an engaging, rhyming text by Pippa Goodhart, author of the bestselling You Choose! series, and gorgeous rainbow illustrations from award-winning Emily Rand, little ones will love searching the colourful scenes over and over again.


MONSTERS AT SCHOOL by Laura Baker and Nina Dzyvulska (27th June)

Bea is REALLY looking forward to her birthday  until things begin to go wrong. A book about managing disappointment, from the bestselling author of the Big Bright Feelings series.

Be open, be honest, be you! Big Bright Feelings for little people.

Bea CAN'T WAIT for her birthday. There are only three days to go, and everything is going to be PERFECT! Then snow begins to block the roads … and everything begins to go wrong. With no party, no cards, and maybe even no cake, can Bea find a way to be OK – even in the middle of a really BAD day?

This reassuring and funny book is the perfect springboard for talking to children about setting expectations and finding balance amidst disappointment.


THE DINOSAUR WHO POOPED A SUPERHERO by Tom Fletcher and Garry Parsons (18th July)

Danny and Dinosaur went to the city to see the spectacular sights -
the palace, the people, and all the skyscrapers that soared to sensational heights...

Join Danny and Dino on a superhero-filled adventure as they try and save the city from a supervillain called DESTRUCTO!

The latest in Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter's much-loved series, this poop-filled extravaganza is brought to life by the preposterously talented illustrator Garry Parsons.


LITTLE MOUSE IS ABSOLUTELY, COMPELETLY, TOTALLY FINE! by Sharon Hopwood and Marisa Morea (15th August)

Little Mouse is Absolutely, Completely, Totally Fine! Or is he?

Have fun finding out in this fun-filled and empowering picture book that encourages children to become body language detectives, develop empathy and express their emotions as they meet an irresistible cast of mice with BIG emotions . . . happy, sad, confused, scared, angry, calm . . . Look at each mouse and see what body language and expressions you can spot!

Tired mouse. Timid mouse. Ready for the world mouse?

Curious mouse. Furious mouse. Having no success mouse.

Amused mouse. Confused mouse. Such a very jealous mouse.

Children will love the bouncy rhyming text and charming Richard Scarry-esq illustrations, packed with detail! Perfect for neurodiverse and neurotypical children alike.


Clare Helen Welsh is a children's writer from Devon. She writes fiction and non-fiction picture book texts - sometimes funny, sometimes lyrical and everything in between! Her latest picture book, 'THERE'S A GORILLA AT THE DOOR,' is illustrated by Sam Caldwell and published by Little Tiger Press. It's a joyous tale that explores themes of belonging in a blended-family environment with a subtle nod to the interconnected animal family we all, as humans, share. You can find out more about her at her website or on Twitter @ClareHelenWelsh . Clare is represented by Alice Williams at Alice Williams Literary.

Monday 15 January 2024

Could overlooking some of your physiological needs indirectly be holding you back from completing creative projects? Oh No, George! realisation and ADHD by Juliet Clare Bell


I happened to read Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton in bed last night (having not read it for about three years).


                                          My bedtime reading for the last couple of weeks

Do you ever get that thing where something you’ve read loads before suddenly resonates in a new way?

                                                  Oh No, George! (c) Chris Haughton (2012)

…because for the first time (that I remember at least; I may have read it and completely forgotten that I had) I saw the quote before Chris Haughton's dedication:

“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one’s desires, but by the removal of desire… No man is free who is not master of himself”  Epictetus.

Without throwing myself into ADHD books, research, podcasts, getting some really good ADHD help over the last year and then trying something really new back in August, I would not have understood that quote at all. But suddenly it illuminated perfectly how the removal of a specific desire had allowed me to uncover something fundamental that was getting in my way (which I'd not realised) and which I could finally work on, freeing me to finish creative projects in a new, improved way. What’s holding you back (if something is) will be different from what was holding me back but thinking about your physiological needs and whether they are really all being met might help you uncover it so you can thrive creatively…

So back to Oh No, Clare (sorry, George)!...

Harris (George’s human) asks George if he’ll be good whilst Harris is out:

                                                 Oh No, George! (c) Chris Haughton (2012)

He’s (I’ve) even got his (my) eyes closed -I’ll genuinely fool myself into believing I'll be good/stick at something. Once he’s opened his eyes, he’s already moved to hoping rather than knowing

And then when he inevitably stuffs up, here comes the ADHD disappointment of having done it again…

                                               Oh No, George! (c) Chris Haughton (2012)

But he’s forgetful, too (ADHD, anyone?) and he soon moves from mistake to mistake. The next time he’s tempted…

                                                Oh No, George! (c) Chris Haughton (2012)

he’s even got the ADHD eyes… those ‘I could just quickly do this other thing and still be able to make my deadline’ eyes…

Eventually, after a LOT of distraction and being found out comes the real ADHD shame, perfectly encapsulated by this page:


                                               Oh No, George! (c) Chris Haughton (2012)

 And the cycle repeats. I absolutely love this book and always have done -as have my children and all the children I’ve read it with. It’s beautiful, funny, poignant (but I'd never seen myself in it until this time round)…

We don’t have to feel sad (for long) for George. He forgets his mishaps pretty quickly. We’re seeing a snapshot of their lives together and Harris is clearly very familiar with George and his urges. Harris and George have a lovely relationship and Harris still loves George when things go wrong (every ADHDer needs a Harris!). BUT happily for George -and Harris, George doesn’t have adult responsibilities and longer term hopes and dreams that he’s just aware enough of to know that he’s messing up (like lots of adults with ADHD do). George doesn’t need to be free (a la Epictetus) to pursue his projects. He can have an awesome life with the ever-understanding Harris. But what about us?

Like the lovely George, I had also always been happy and optimistic about getting it right this time (whatever ‘it’ is) but for me, it was always followed by ‘if I can just…’ I was George-level un-self-aware: self-aware enough to feel shame when it went wrong (which it did, a lot) it but un-self-aware enough that I genuinely thought I was self-aware. I was definitely George (until recently). I knew what I was meant to do/not meant to do, but I couldn’t make myself do it/not do it. But unlike George, I wasn’t a really appealing dog, beautifully crafted by Chris Haughton that we all love and feel compassionate towards. I was an adult with adult responsibilities who kept not showing up how I wanted to -in writing and in life, but without the lovely Harris to help pick up the pieces.


Do you find yourself thinking

This is the year I’m going to be different/do things differently?

I know I can write/illustrate/create more, be more, be better

[followed by the inevitable] if I can just…

use better systems, have a better year plan, be a new and better version of myself?

I always thought that. Each year, each new productivity planner (there are very, very many), each new conference, retreat, goal-setting session, in fact pretty much every day…


What if we’re trying to treat the symptoms and not the cause? Maybe we’re starting way too high up in our hierarchy of needs? Maybe we really need to attend to what’s near the bottom?

And if you’re interested, check out Translating ADHD’s podcasts on a slight reimagining of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for people with ADHD… (and episodes 149-153).

Physiological needs

How aware are you of your physiological needs? It might sound like a silly question but I think I was pretty unaware for most of my life until the powerful combination of ADHD and perimenopause left me dangerously forgetful, brain-foggy and lacking in the ability to follow even the most ordinary routines (keys in the fridge, frozen food in the cutlery drawer, leaving the hobs on, forgetting to lock up). You can’t be responsible for children and be forgetting to turn off the hob… so things that had seemed advisable but optional (getting enough sleep etc) became absolutely necessary.

The needs, discussed below, whilst being considered crucial for people with ADHD, are really important for everyone -and fit pretty neatly into Rangan Chatterjee’s Four Pillar Plan to a healthier life, too.

                                                The 4 Pillar Plan (c) Rangan Chatterjee (2018)

So maybe think really honestly about these needs…

Are you really getting enough sleep and at the right time -for you?

I can’t burn the candle at both ends like I did up until even three or four years ago. It’s different for different people and at different points in your life. I used to be a night owl but I love waking up at six to write which means being asleep as close to 10pm as possible. I'm a wreck for days now if I go to bed later. But most of the time now, I wake up, not feeling tired (which is a real revelation for me).

Are you getting enough movement -for you? And is it movement you like? (A note: I need to not think of it as exercise, because I’ve always connected exercise with losing weight/changing shape/being a better version of myself. For me, movement now is to do with being able to think more clearly -and that’s a positive motivator as my job is mostly about thinking! My movement comes mostly in the form of: [1] walking to places I need to get to, fast (so I'm on a mission); [2] dancing unfiltered to loud music on my own (usually with a disco light I can move from room to room) to get me in the proper state for sitting down at my desk and writing if I feel a bit sluggish or tired or don’t feel in the right mood yet; [3] very gentle jogging on the spot to get my focus back on my work if I’m feeling a bit jittery because I’m finding it hard; and [4] regular moving of my feet back and forth on my wooden roller foot massager (costs about £6).

These are the types of movement that work for me. I wanted to be the person who wants to go for a walk for its own sake, especially as there’s a lovely park five minutes’ walk away but I’ve learned that it’s not the kind of movement I like for its own sake. If you stay curious and non-judgemental, can you think of anything you’re doing because you ‘ought’ to like it and if so, if there’s anything you could swap it for that is something you actually do like? It really helps to keep it up when it’s not about self-sacrifice…


Putting the right things -for you- in your body.

For people with ADHD that may well mean: Vitamin D, omega 3, iron, lots of protein (including at breakfast) and very possibly stimulant (or non-stimulant) ADHD medication. And for people who are perimenopausal, this may well mean hormone replacement therapy (HRT; I absolutely could not function without it.) As someone who is still on the waiting list for stimulant medication, I’ve tried all the other ones and they’ve been helpful. But by far the most life-altering thing I’ve found has been not eating sugar (except fruit). I can’t stress enough that it is nothing to do with trying to change shape (please read Sonya Renee Taylor’s excellent The Body is Not an Apology

                        The Body is Not an Apology. 2nd Edition (c) Sonya Renee Taylor (2021)

or listen to the Sonya Renee Taylor in conversation with Brene Brown). I had noticed that I seemed more sluggish/brain foggy/forgetful when I was eating lots of sugar (which I’d do when I was feeling stressed about anything) and I decided to do an experiment for a week and stop eating sugar at the same time as stopping scrolling on my phone before 11am. Within three days, I noticed a big difference in terms of my focus. And I realised that it wasn’t so much that the lack of sugar improved my memory, but that I was no longer feeling anything like as impulsive as I’ve felt all my life (and I’ve never had the desire to scroll on my phone since, either, having scrolled for hours every day prior to experimenting with it). Prior to that, if I was writing and got to a tricky part and started feeling discomfort, my thoughts would have immediately turned to chocolate as a way to make me feel better, or failing that, scrolling. Once I’d stopped eating sugar, I found that when things got hard when I was writing, I didn’t have that jittery compulsive feeling, and my thoughts didn’t turn to external ways of removing the discomfort. And something quite extraordinary (for me, at least!) happened…

I have learned to tolerate discomfort and sit with uncomfortable feelings! Sophie Hannah, poet, novelist and writing coach,has talked about this: if you’re trying to write and you start feeling uncomfortable thoughts, what is the worst that will happen? You’ll feel uncomfortable. What’s the best that will happen? You’ll finish the piece that you’re writing. Not having something to take away the discomfort immediately in the form of chocolate or scrolling has allowed me to feel more comfortable with discomfort and finish (and even dare to start) projects that I wouldn’t have finished (or even dared  to start) before. I would never have guessed that refraining from eating sugar would reduce my distractibility and impulsivity, improve my focus and help me learn to tolerate discomfort -in an easy way. But it has. Maybe once I’m on stimulant medication, I’ll get a similar level of calm and lack of distractibility with the increase in dopamine. I’m all for desire -wanting something, and working towards getting it as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, but many of us with ADHD have experienced the unpleasant side of desire that feels all-consuming and out of our control. We so often go for the big emotions because they give us that dopamine hit but it’s a very short-term hit and having experienced the absence of clawing desire for the last four months, I have to say I’d choose peace and control, or Epictetus’s freedom, over chocolate -even as a lifelong devotee.

Are there any changes to putting things or not putting things into your body that might help you with your focus, concentration, distractibility? Again, this has nothing to do with changing body shape or appearance, but has to do with thinking more clearly so you can be more creative.



Finally, it’s worth thinking about how mindfulness in its wider form might help you (not directly physiological needs but still relevant I think). Personally, I really struggle with sitting-down meditation or yoga as I don’t feel still enough for it so I’ve looked for other ways to feel mindful. Think about what makes you still? What helps you feel at peace? It might not be what works for someone else. For me, it’s dark and water, and I’ve learned to incorporate both into my life during my working day and week.

Writing in the dark stills me like almost nothing else. I do it at 6am each morning, in bed, and it’s like a magical time where it feels like all the world’s asleep (including my internal editor). Perfect.

And water -works for me. Top three water/work combinations:

3 Listening to waves sounds (or even rain) through headphones as I write or read

2 Writing by water -there’s a perfect spot by the canal in town where I write once a week for hours

1 Jacuzzi -joint first with writing in the dark for feeling still. Who knew? The bubbles mean you are constantly being moved around just enough (so you don’t have to be making those movements yourself as you would outside of water) and it’s noisy enough to block out most of the conversation around you and to still your own mind. It’s like the humming, vibrating baby chairs for fretful babies. Perfect. It’s where my mind is the stillest it ever gets and I can think really clearly about my work.

I am extremely aware of how fortunate I am and the privilege I have in being able to access these things, including a gym (which I literally only use for writing, in and out of the jacuzzi; if a jacuzzi would help you think, lots of Sports Direct gyms have a jacuzzi and cost £20 per month including all classes); the right kind of ADHD/perimenopause nutrition; an ADHD assessment; ADHD medication (which I'll get once I finally get to the front of the waiting list) and Access to Work support from the Department of Work and Pensions. If anyone wanted help with where or how to get ADHD support (particularly in the UK), please get in touch and I’ll try and get some information up on my website shortly, including a guide to getting Access to Work for ADHD, which I wrote but took out as the blogpost was already too long.


I’m glad George lacks the self-awareness to change -because it’s in his nature to be impulsive and he has such a great time and he’s going to forget his shame really quickly and get back to living his best life. And he’s a dog. In a story (thank you, Chris Haughton for such a wonderful book). But as adults with responsibilities and wanting to write and or illustrate our stories, and deadlines (and for some of us, ADHD), attending to our physiological needs might be a good place to start exploring Epictetus's possible freedom…

If you have any thoughts on what has helped free you up to make the most of your creativity, or would like to share what's been getting in your way and if something has helped, please let us know in the comments below. Juliet Clare Bell is a children’s author of over 35 picture books and early readers and is also branching out into some longer writing projects which she is now confident she can actually finish… She does author visits in mostly primary, but sometimes secondary, schools, and you can find her at