Down in the Daisies

You can buy my books from lots of bookshops and online retailers; I favour Hive and Waterstones

Illustrated by Emily Bolam

published by Orion Children’s Books

A first counting book in rhyme, which takes in weather and different baby animals all around the world. See how the bunnies hop hop hop, and the tadpoles wriggle squiggle!

Why I loved writing this book:

I dedicated this book to my dad, because he was the one who really taught me to look at stuff and notice things. He taught me how to spot birds hiding in trees and hedges, how to see that the brown blob in a field was really a hare crouching in her form. We once spent a whole afternoon watching a dormouse in an elderbush.

We looked at clouds together and named them—great rolling names like altocumulus undulatus, nimbostratus, fractostratus and the wispy cirrus that streams across the sky in white mares’ tails when it’s windy. He taught me weather lore like ‘red sky at night, shepherd’s delight, red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning’, and the fact that the leaves on some trees will turn up their undersides if it’s going to rain. He was very fond of rhymes like “mares’ tails and mackerel scales make tall ships carry low sails,” as well as “when the wind is in the east, ‘tis neither good for man nor beast.” When he quoted that one, I knew to stay out of the way, because he’d generally be in a bad mood. Now I am passing all this stuff on to my own children so that it is not lost. And yes, I always feel grouchy when the wind is in the east.

I wanted to write a fun counting book that also helped very young children to look at the world around them and notice things. So I put in animals from different countries—mothers and babies—so that kids could learn the names. And I put in climates and weather too. So many kids live in cities and towns and aren’t as lucky as I was. I wanted to help them learn that there are things to look at wherever you live—birds still nest and sing in parks and gardens and on windowledges above buildings; foxes run about urban areas; mice live behind your skirting boards. And clouds and weather are everywhere—you just have to look up. It’s all about really using your eyes to see what’s all around you.


“This is the sort of book a child will hold up for you to read again and again, and one I wouldn’t mind reading a hundred times.”
Artemis Cooper, Mail on Sunday

“Although this big picture book is called ‘an animal counting book’, it’s much more than that. It is packed with rhyme and wonderful words as well as animals and environments. A terrific book to read aloud as the words are full of the sounds that children love, words that will help them develop an ear for language and be ready to move on into reading—just let them enjoy it!”
Book Trusted News

“If you’re looking for a book with several different themes that will make you want to come back to it again and again, this may be it. First there’s the theme of mother animals and babies…another theme is settings…then there’s the climate theme. There’s lots of colourful descriptive language in the rhyming verses, and appealing pictures.”
Nursery World

“Full of simple, playful poems about animal families, this will give lots of fun to your toddler and encourage them to copy the animal sounds. Be sure to read it to them when you’ve got some energy! A very easy introduction to simple counting.”
New Baby

“A lively picture book that encourages counting skills as well as exploring different animal habitats and the weather. This thoughtful book provides ample fodder for conversation and heaps of educational potential.”

“This bright counting book will be attractiveto the youngest readers. There is a delight in language play and rhythm here that children will relish. They will be keen to join in with the alliteration of ‘scrap snap and squabble’ and will take up the invitation to growl, leap and squeak with the baby animals. This book encourages the young child to interact with the text in many ways—to count, to explore, to question and to play. It achieves far more than many counting books and deserves a place on the nursery shelf.”
The School Librarian Journal

“Perfect for toddlers.” The Bookseller

Published in 2002 (hardback) and 2004 (paperback)
Also published in Dutch.

Sadly this book is now out-of-print, but you can still find it at secondhand bookstores and online at AbeBooks.