Writer in Residence: Nicola Davies

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence (or Writer-Illustrator in Residence) to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books.

Children's author Nicola Davies, Writer in Residence at BookTrust

Our Writer-Illustrator in Residence is Nicola Davies, whose focus is on urging children to explore the natural world around them

Nicola Davies is a prolific author of children's books, well known for The Day the War Came and Lots, among many other picture books.

During her six-month residency, Nicola will be drawing on her experience as a zoologist, former Wildlife presenter and now creative writing teacher and author to encourage children to discover more about nature through words and pictures.

Nicola Davies says about her residency at BookTrust:

'I’m very happy to have been chosen to be a Writer in Residence for BookTrust – there are soooooooo many things I want to do over the next few months! I love nature, poems and pictures, so there will be lots of focus on these.
'My aim for each of the posts of my residency is to offer you a bit of the three ‘Is' – that’s Information, Ideas and Inspiration. Information, because you may need some clues about what you’re going to write about; Ideas because you might need some help with how to write; and Inspiration so that you can really feel that your writing can be fabulous. There’ll also be a poetry writing competition that you can enter to win books and a visit from me for your school.' 

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Previous Writers in Residence

Previous writers to take up the post include Matt Haig, Laura Dockrill, Cressida Cowell, Chris Riddell and Patrick Ness – see what fun things they all got up to during their time in residence.

Find out more

Features from our Writer in Residence


Books by Nicola Davies

Bee Boy and the Moonflowers

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Max Low

Asin is sent into the treacherous desert mountains to find the rare and magical Moonflowers: only bees that feed on these Moonflowers’ pollen will produce the magical Silver Honey, which will heal Asin’s family from their malaise.

Read more about Bee Boy and the Moonflowers

The Eel Question

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Beth Holland

A mythic-feeling story about a girl who lives on the flat marshes, fishing for eels, and soon befriends an otter that will help her flee danger. As ever, Davies’ love of the natural world is obvious, and her writing sings with a dark exuberance.

Read more about The Eel Question

Flying Free

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Cathy Fisher

When Colin shoots a sparrowhawk, he knows that he’s done something wrong and takes the hawk to the vet. Soon, Colin finds a passion for wildlife he never knew he had. Anyone reading Flying Free will want to rescue their own hawk...

Read more about Flying Free

The Little Mistake

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Cathy Fisher

Rose learns that not all mistakes are bad when she helps her mum watch over their sheepdog Trix and its litter of puppies – including one that definitely isn't going to be a prize-winning sheepdog. Another brilliant wildlife story from Nicola Davies. 

Read more about The Little Mistake

The Secret of the Egg

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Abbie Cameron

There are so many different kinds of egg! Nicola Davies and Abbie Cameron introduce us to some of their favourites in a fun, bouncy and fascinating book.

Read more about The Secret of the Egg

The Day War Came

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb

A heartbreaking picture book that perfectly explains the displacement of people, and especially children, in war, and the trauma experienced by people forced to leave their homes. 

Read more about The Day War Came

Ariki and the Giant Shark

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Nicola Kinnear

When a huge shark threatens a fishing boat, the island's queen believes that the creature means them harm. However, young Ariki discovers the truth about the shark – it needs their help. An exciting adventure story about friendship, families and being different.

Read more about Ariki and the Giant Shark

The Pond

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Cathy Fisher

A young boy and his father are planning a pond in their back garden - but they only get as far as digging a muddy hole when Dad passes away. A raw, emotional but ultimately hopeful take on grief, loss, nature and love.

Read more about The Pond

King of the Sky

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Laura Carlin

A boy has come to start his life in a new country where nothing is familiar, apart from the racing pigeons kept by his neighbour. Soon, he has a pigeon of his own called King of the Sky: will he win the competition? A touching, quiet tale of community.

Read more about King of the Sky

The Selkie’s Mate

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Claire Jenkins

Lyrical text is enhanced by evocative watercolour illustrations in this haunting and heart-wrenching tale of love, loss and trust, which is inspired by Selkie legends from around the world.

Read more about The Selkie’s Mate

Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Emily Sutton

This is a book to pore and ponder over, from reading the story to picking out the different creatures in each picture, to reading the funny and fascinating animal names.

Read more about Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth

Mother Cary’s Butter Knife

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Anja Uhren

Inspired by traditional folk tales of mythical sea creatures, this other-worldly story of the savagery and beauty of the ocean will captivate readers. The ethereal illustrations, in a palette of watery blues, greens and greys, perfectly complement the poetic narrative.

Read more about Mother Cary’s Butter Knife

Animal Surprises

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Abbie Cameron

A simple illustrated nature picture book featuring a catchy rhyming refrain, Animal Surprises introduces a variety of animals to young readers in a friendly manner with a good level of text to illustration.

Read more about Animal Surprises


Author: Nicola Davies

A young boy is very excited that there's to be a new arrival in the family. However, when the baby arrives, it is clear that there is something a little different about her. Minimal text and exquisite artwork tell a story of sibling love.

Read more about Perfect

Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Emily Sutton

This is an original, special and memorable book that sets the bar high for illustrated children's non-fiction.

Read more about Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes

The Promise

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Laura Carlin

On the dark streets of a city that is mean and hard and ugly, a young thief tries to steal an old lady's bag.

Read more about The Promise

Whale Boy

Author: Nicola Davies

In this short novel, Nicola Davies paints a rich and vibrant picture of island life, which feels as fresh as the sea air.

Read more about Whale Boy

The Elephant Road

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Annabel Wright

This story provides an engaging context in which much wider, complex environmental issues are explored.

Read more about The Elephant Road

A First Book of Nature

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Mark Hearld

Hearld's nostalgic illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to this lovely chronicle of a child's first experiences of nature

Read more about A First Book of Nature

A First Book of the Sea

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Emily Sutton

A First Book of the Sea reunites nature writer and poet Nicola Davies and illustrator Emily Sutton to create another stunning volume of poetic odes to the wonders of the sea.

Read more about A First Book of the Sea

The Variety of Life

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Lorna Scobie

Did you know there are 400,000 species of beetle but only eight species of bear? Jam-packed with fun facts and figures, this is a glorious celebration of our world by non-fiction specialist Nicola Davies.

Read more about The Variety of Life

Amazing True Stories About Animals Behaving Badly

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Adam Stower

This collection of animal anecdotes is funny, interesting and insightful. Comical black-and-white illustrations bring the true tales to life in this entertaining book for animal-loving independent readers.

Read more about Amazing True Stories About Animals Behaving Badly

White Owl Barn Owl

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Michael Foreman

Davies cocoons the factual information within an inter-generational first-person narrative of a girl and her grandfather building an owl nest-box.

Read more about White Owl Barn Owl

A First Book of Animals

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Petr Horacek

A wide range of animals are depicted and celebrated in this lovely, colourful hardback - from polar bears to flamingos, fireflies to nightingales. Each double page spread features a full illustration and a short poem

Read more about A First Book of Animals

Surprising Sharks

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: James Croft

An engaging introduction to the world of sharks, which seeks to dispel the myths about them, while adding fascinating detail.

Read more about Surprising Sharks

Big Blue Whale

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Nick Maland

Nicola Davies’ chatty picture book describes in detail the dimensions, eating habits and life-cycle of the blue whale.

Read more about Big Blue Whale

I (Don't) Like Snakes

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Luciano Lozano

This is an unusual and amusing tale about a girl who doesn't share her family's enthusiasm for snakes. However, as they tell her more about the incredible reptiles, she has a change of heart.

Read more about I (Don't) Like Snakes

Just Ducks

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Salvatore Rubbino

Every morning when she wakes up, a little girl hears the ducks quack down on the river that flows through the town.

Read more about Just Ducks


Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Neal Layton

Sometimes nature can be nasty!

Read more about Deadly!

Rubbish Town Hero

Author: Nicola Davies

This is an absorbing, powerful and ultimately uplifting story about children living on their wits in a harsh environment, searching for the love and security a real family can give them

Read more about Rubbish Town Hero

A Girl Called Dog

Author: Nicola Davies

Threatening, scary, moving and exciting, this adventure story tackles the serious subject of child abduction with a light touch

Read more about A Girl Called Dog

Poo: A Natural History of the Unmentionable

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Neal Layton

This funny non-fiction picture book for older readers is packed full of fascinating facts about poo and enthusiastically explains why this natural waste product is one of the most useful things on earth.

Read more about Poo: A Natural History of the Unmentionable

Manatee Baby

Author: Nicola Davies

When Manuela and her father see a manatee and its calf in the Amazon river, they can’t believe their luck. But can one girl convince the community that these beautiful creatures should be protected? A moving and powerful chapter book, based on a true story.

Read more about Manatee Baby

The Lion Who Stole My Arm

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Annabel Wright

When a lion attacks Pedru and bites off his arm, he vows to find the lion and kill him. But as he learns more about these formidable creatures, he realises strength and courage come in different forms. An uplifting story in the excellent Heroes of the Wild series.

Read more about The Lion Who Stole My Arm

Into the Blue

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Abbie Cameron

Nicola Davies takes young readers on an imaginary trip to the seaside, with Abbie Cameron's beautiful illustrations depicting the marvellous life on the beach and in the sea.

Read more about Into the Blue

The Word Bird

Author: Nicola Davies Illustrator: Abbie Cameron

Davies and Cameron ably depict the sheer variety of the feathered world accessibly for little ones, conveying a sense of wonder and joy. There's a fun little puzzle at the end, too!

Read more about The Word Bird

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