Celebrities are wild about Poppy

CELEBRITIES have been lining up to endorse a new children’s book about a young girl rewilding her grandad’s farm.

Poppy is on a mission to save the farm by returning the countryside to a time when flower meadows grew wild and native animals flourished.

Can she succeed in helping nature to work its magic? Written by award-winning TV producer Nick Powell and illustrated by Becca Hall, Poppy Goes Wild was published in December by Little Steps Publishing and features a foreword by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the writer and broadcaster known for his commitment to seasonal, ethically produced food and his concern for the environment.

Praise has come from various celebrities, including actress Joanna Lumley and wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan.

Lumley, patron of the environmental charity Earth Restoration Service since 2008, said: “Poppy is the child we all long to be: brave, curious, headstrong, compassionate and the best fun in the world. Her love for wildlife will chime with children everywhere: an adorable book.”

Buchanan said: “Poppy Goes Wild is a beautifully inspiring story wonderfully illustrated. To protect nature we must love nature and hear what our planet is telling us. This book serves as a reminder that we must also listen to our children.”

Nick Powell’s TV credits range from Supernanny to Nigella Bites and Escape to River Cottage. As a teenager he was transfixed by the magical sight of an otter catching a fish and sunning itself on the riverbank but didn’t see another one in the wild until decades later, when rivers began to be cleaned up.

He now lives alongside the South Downs National Park while Becca Hall comes from the Lake District but now lives in Cornwall, where discovering nature is a theme she finds particularly exciting.

PIONEERING PROJECT: Old English longhorn cattle on the Knepp Estate in West Sussex

Teaching resources for the book include information about large-scale rewilding projects like those on the 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in Sussex (above) and at Dundreggan in the Highlands.

TV naturalist and author Iolo Williams said: “Poppy is cheeky and irresistible in her quest to make the world a better place for wildlife.”

Farmer and TV presenter Jimmy Doherty said it was an “enchanting book”, adding: “There are many lessons that we can learn from the past and allowing more land to run wild and free is a vital one.”

In recent decades much of Britain’s wildlife has disappeared, with over half of our species in decline and with 15% threatened with extinction, with problems ranging from habitat loss and agricultural changes to pollution and climate warming.

But across the country, initiatives are being undertaken to restore the balance and to safeguard British wildlife for future generations. Poppy’s quest is to return the countryside to how it was 50 years ago, when hares, skylarks, otters and peregrine falcons flourished.

BACK TO NATURE: the Knepp Estate offers camping, treehouses and wildlife safaris

Broadcaster and wine critic Olly Smith, patron of The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “This charming tale is a timely reminder of the deep value in connecting more deeply with the natural world and allowing it to flourish and grow ever more wonderfully wild.”

Poppy Goes Wild is published by Little Steps Publishing and is available to buy online or at local bookshops.

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