Home » The magic of a country garden brought vividly to life by Pembrokeshire illustrator Angie James
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The magic of a country garden brought vividly to life by Pembrokeshire illustrator Angie James

Angie James, at work in her garden

Nothing captivates a child’s imagination as much a wild country garden, bursting with colour and home to the fairies, goblins and an army of insects, birds and adorable wild animals.

Now, thanks to local children’s author and illustrator Angie James, children can explore the magical world that’s hidden in the wild garden and meet some of their most adorable inhabitants.

The adventures are led by the mystical and slightly other-worldly Hare, and his earthy little sidekick, Snail.

“The idea is to encourage children to explore nature in their very own gardens, whether it’s a window box, their own garden or the local park,” Angie told The Pembrokeshire Herald from her home in Port Lion, near Llangwm.

“The book follows the journey of the Hare and the Snail after they discover a little fairy-type creature at the bottom of the garden.  She takes them across the garden, and introduces them to the various animals and plants that they meet on their way.”

The concept has been nestling in Angie’s mind for several decades, after watching the delight that her four children gained from their own wild garden as they were growing up.

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“Like all young children, they were full of questions concerning which plants they could touch and whether worms could be eaten,” chuckled Angie.

“So the idea of writing a book for children that’s set in a beautiful wild garden has been with me for quite some time.  But it’s only since my children have grown up that I’ve had the time to make those ideas become reality.”

A native of Monkton, Angie did her National Diploma in Art at Coleg Menai in Bangor before gaining her HND at Carmarthenshire College of Art followed by a degree in knitwear technology at Leicester.

For the past five years she has worked as an illustrator, favouring the watercolour medium.

“The whole point of an illustration is to convey the story in a picture just as strongly as it’s conveyed in the words,” she said. “But this has to be done through working in close contact with the author.”

More recently Angie was asked to design a CD cover for the American band Slow Elephants, following the release of their latest single ‘Broken Records’.

The Hare and the Snail first appeared in Angie’s range of prints and postcards, before she went on to create the first book of children’s stories.

Each story is short and slightly humorous and helps children to discover where to find, recognise and conserve the natural world. It is aimed at children between the ages of five and ten.

“I’m certainly not an expert in gardens or wildlife,” she continued. 

“I’m just enthusiastic as I have my own wild garden and whenever I come across an insect, a flower, foxes, hedgehogs and so on, I try to ensure that they stay safe while they continue to stay in my garden.

“And as a result, I spent virtually the whole of last summer medicating a fox cub that had mange.”

Angie will be launching her book this Sunday, April 23 which, appropriately, is the day after World Earth Day. 

The launch takes place at the Eastgate Creative Hub in Pembroke from 1pm.  Angie will be reading extracts from the book and there will also be crafts and refreshments available for visitors.