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Why children should confront what scares them in books

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods by Samuel J. Halpin

A letter from Samuel J. Halpin, author of The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods:

Dear reader,

When I was small, I used to creep around our creaking farmhouse at night and check that the windows were shut. It was my ritual, and sleep wouldn’t come without it. Behind the farmhouse was a hill that rose up like a great black wave, cloaked in tangles of white gum trees that stretched out like pale arms in the night. It was my belief that there were things up there: peculiar things.

There is something terrifically safe about a book. Perhaps you remember when you were a child, and there was that one illustration in a favourite story of yours that filled you with such a surging terror that you had to skip over it or cover it up with your outstretched palm whilst you read. There is a unique scope to explore and face fear that only a book can give, and for me, understanding and encountering fear is spectacularly important. Fear excites our imaginations and challenges our barriers, which is why I think it’s so vital that children are given the opportunity to confront what scares them, be it real or imagined, within the confines of the written word.

Samuel J. Halpin, author of The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods
Samuel J. Halpin, author of The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods

For many years, fairy tales have been an apparatus for tackling our anxieties and reminding us that there is no courage without fear. Courage is the power to triumph over fear, to look at what scares us straight in the eye – be that fear a ghost, a peculiar thing in the woods or simply a drawing peeking out from between our fingers. 

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods is the product of this – that the fairy-tale tradition of doing battle with our fears in order to master them should be upheld and celebrated. I dearly hope you’ll read – and as an added bonus, enjoy – Poppy’s journey as she bravely faces that which she dreads most. And, if you’re game, then I’d advise reading this book beneath the sheets, with the help of a torch, preferably on a night when the wind is playing games with your windows… 

And remember: hide the sugar, should you be wise. Stow away your dreams. And watch the skies with wary eyes lest no-one hear your screams.*

*All to be revealed in The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods!

Best wishes,


The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods

The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods

This is the story of a sleepy town called Suds. A place where stories fill the air of children who keep turning grey and disappearing without a trace… Poppy and Erasmus are certain there's something peculiar going on in Suds, and they're determined to unravel its secrets. But when they discover the answers might lie in the darking and twisting woods, can they find the courage to creep inside and solve this riddling mystery?


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Samuel J. Halpin, author of The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods

Tags: Children's fiction

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