Shropshire farmer becomes a children’s author

A former Shropshire farmer has turned his farming tales and adventures into a series of richly illustrated children’s books that are designed to be fun, easy to read and help youngsters develop a love of reading.

Peter Russell Peake has already received fan mail from young readers and is currently in discussions with a major Shropshire tourist attraction about producing a children’s book for the venue.

Peter has brought out three series of books regaling humorous farm capers and calamities with loveable characters based on many of the animals and farm vehicles that were part of his farming life.

The stories have been brought to life with vibrant illustrations by international children’s book illustrators Jeremy Pyke and Kirsteen Harris-Jones who are also based in Shropshire.

The books include the Farmer James series and Robbie The Farm Ranger series, aimed at children aged up to eight, and storybooks and alphabet and counting books for younger children. Three Christmas stories have also been released.

Peter farmed for 40 years, including 30 years running the family farm at Halfway House, near Shrewsbury, where he still lives. It was the UK’s largest free-range egg producer in the 1970s with deliveries to major cities, London and Harrods. By the 1980s Peter was also farming pigs and sheep and growing crops.

Characters are inspired by some of his favourite animals and farm vehicles – from Wellington the pig and Defa the sheepdog to Fergie, Peter’s 1958 red Massey Ferguson tractor that he still drives today.

Ironically, he thought he would never be able to write a book. Dyslexia left him struggling at school, back in the days when it wasn’t recognised or treated. But, since finding his love of writing later in life, he hasn’t stopped.

“Because of my own childhood experience I wanted to write books that would help children discover their love of reading. Boys love tractors and one way of engaging them has been through creating characters based on tractors and other larger than life farm vehicles,” he said.

The books have been published by Marche Tales and are available from the website marchetales.co.uk or from shops and Christmas fairs in Shropshire and Mid Wales.

Marche Tales will be at the Much Wenlock Christmas Fayre on Saturday December 3, Condover Hall Christmas Fair on December 4 and the Shropshire Festive Gift Market at St Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury, on December 10 and 11.

Other current stockists include Pengwern Books, Number 61, The Raven Bookshop, Battlefield 1403 Farm Shop and Churncote Farm Shop, all in Shrewsbury; Connexions, Pontesbury; Halfway House Stores, Halfway House; Derwen Garden Centre, Welshpool, and Charlie’s Country Store, Coed-y-Dinas, Welshpool.

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