A DEBUT author-illustrator from Winchester is launching a series to encourage children and their families to spend more time outdoors.

Rose Lihou, 37, from Fulflood, is preparing for the release of her first novel – Tiny Dogs: Bea’s Secret Friends, which is the first of a new young fiction series influenced by kids’ classics such as The Secret Garden, The Borrowers and The Animals of Farthing Wood.

Rose combined her favourite childhood stories with her own experiences of playing in the garden with her children and the idea of making friends with the wildlife there, with the addition of her miniature schnauzer, to create Tiny Dogs.

The mother of two is visiting local book venues to promote the series with the tour starting on April 27 at Waterstones at The Brooks Shopping Centre in Winchester.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Rose LihouRose Lihou (Image: Puffin)

The story follows Bea who moves into her grandparents’ house with her mum. This means a new school, new friends and a lot of big changes for Bea. All she can remember about Granny and Grandad’s house is their big, beautiful garden with its vibrant, colourful flowers and secret hiding places but when she arrives the garden is overgrown and neglected.

The wild garden feels like the perfect refuge for Bea to hide away from all the overwhelming changes in her life. But when she hears a strange noise and goes to investigate, Bea can’t believe what she finds: four tiny dogs, no bigger than mice, playing in the grass.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Tiny Dogs illustration by Rose LihouTiny Dogs illustration by Rose Lihou (Image: Puffin)

Having previously worked in design teams across retail and children’s publishing, Rose now works in her home studio and supplies her illustrations to shops and galleries around the world. When she’s not writing and illustrating, Rose loves to be outdoors with her two daughters and miniature schnauzer, Herbie. 

The series will be illustrated in full colour and is suitable for young readers who are ready to move on from picture books.

Tiny Dogs: Bea’s Secret Friends, published by Puffin, will be available from Thursday, April 18. The second book Tiny Dogs: The Lost School Pet will be released in July and the third book will follow in February next year.

Rose’s debut novel costs £7.99 and is available to pre-order online.

Tour dates: 

  • 10.30am Saturday, April 27, Waterstones Winchester The Brooks
  • Saturday, May 25, The Bookmark Stockbridge
  • 1.30pm Saturday, June 1, Waterstones Southampton
  • Tuesday, July 16, Westgate School at the first LitFest event, supported by P&G Wells bookshop
  • 10.30am Wednesday, August 21, Waterstones Whiteley