Animals and You magazine recently ran a competition for readers to win copies of my books Monkey Business and Monkey Madness. The entrants were asked to design their own ‘garden zoo’, because in Monkey Business, this is what Flo thinks she and Felix should do – for real! 


The idea for this story came to me from my son when he was seven years old. He came out of school one day announcing that he was going to keep giraffes in the shed, elephants in the garage and ‘a couple of seals and crocodiles in the pond’. We cannot even fit our car in the garage because of the amount of junk in it, and our ‘pond’ is more of a puddle with ideas above its station. As for what would happen if you put seals and crocodiles in anywhere together, I dread to think! So I merely laughed and said, ‘What a lovely idea.’ 

I thought no more about my son’s vivid imagination until he came out of school the next day with two eager friends in tow, explaining that ‘Jamie says we can use his garden for the flamingoes and William says we can use his field for the zebras coz he’s going to tell his sister that the pony will have to go.’

I exchanged amused glances with the teacher who was listening in, and she said, ‘There’s a book in this somewhere . . .’

She was right – two books, in fact. It’s lovely to think that a make-believe game of my son’s has ended up inspiring readers to use their own imaginations. Here are some of the wonderfully creative entries for the drawing competition:

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From left to right the entrants were: Leila, who was the overall winner; Leisha Marie; Molly and Keira. Well done all of you, and thanks for entering!