DON’T SPILL THE MILK chosen for CBeebies bedtime story slot


My girls (5 and 2) love the CBeebies bedtime story at 6.50 every evening. All right, I confess, I love it too. Great readers, great books and great mock surprise shown by presenters when the camera arrives and interrupts them talking to penguins / drinking milk / reading a newspaper.

I was delighted when I found out that DON’T SPILL THE MILK had been chosen as a CBeebies story. It was beautifully read last night by Ore Oduba of Newsround / BBC Sports fame. Here is a link to the video on iplayer, which will be available for the next month or so: DON’T SPILL THE MILK read by Ore Oduba.


The story takes place in Niger (not Nigeria, CBeebies!) and shows a plucky little girl called Penda going on an epic journey carrying a bowl of milk for her dad. Will she get there without spilling any?

Michael McIntyre does a wonderful routine about his experience filming a CBeebies bedtime story. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

And in case, you’re curious, here’s Michael’s peformance on CBeebies! Career suicide, he calls it, but history suggests otherwise.

Une Victoire Pour Halima – par Stephen Davies et Christopher Corr, traduit par Vanessa Rubio-Barreau

Une Victoire pour Halima par Stephen Davies et Christopher Corr

Acheter neuf sur

Par le sentier des dunes, qui monte et qui descend, en bateau sur le grand fleuve Niger, au flanc abrupt de l’immense montagne, Halima transporte avec soin et amour une jatte de lait pour son père qui garde le troupeau dans les pâturages. Arrivera-t-elle là-bas sans en renverser une seule goutte ?

Le vocabulaire est riche, le texte rythmé et très poétique. Les illustrations, magnifiques, déroulent sous nos yeux une fresque superbement colorée, véritable voyage initiatique au cœur duquel des valeurs fortes telles que l’amour, le courage, l’altruisme et la persévérance, sont à l’honneur. A lire et relire absolument ! — Encres Vagabondes

Un album à l’histoire simple mais qui véhicule un joli message, des dessins très colorés, un personnage sympathique, tout est réuni pour retenir l’attention des jeunes lecteurs à partir de trois ans. En bonus, on peut s’amuser avec l’enfant à rechercher le chat roux qui est présent sur toutes les pages. — Les Chroniques de l’Imaginaire

Miracle de la sensibilité humaine lorsqu’elle est touchée par le même enchantement, l’univers pastoral des Peuls est ainsi rendu par une esthétique narrative et figurative finalement proche de celle qui est propre aux auteurs africains de ce genre d’ouvrages. — Afrique Asie

DON’T SPILL THE MILK Kirkus starred review

Most people haven’t heard of Kirkus reviews, but authors obsess about them, along with Amazon rankings and book festival invites and whether or not to #retweetpraise. The main thing about Kirkus reviews is this: they are notoriously tough. They don’t shy away from pointing out naffness in all its forms. And the thing about Kirkus STARRED reviews is that they are elusive little beasties that hide in the forest most of the time and aren’t prone to gathering for picnics. When you encounter one, you have to take photos and blog about it, because it could be several decades before you see another one.

You've been a long time coming, Monsieur Etoile.
You’ve been a long time coming, Monsieur Etoile.

DON’T SPILL THE MILK Ouagadougou launch

So DON’T SPILL THE MILK comes out today. It has both camels and giraffes in it. There’s only one country in the world where you can find both camels and giraffes in the wild occupying the same space – Niger.


I was happy to be launching DON’T SPILL THE MILK at the International School of Ouagadougou because (a) I have very warm memories of visiting ISO eighteen months ago and (b) I wrote the book just across the road from the school, in the SIM guesthouse.


The launch consisted of a few brief anecdotes and a lot of carrying bowls on heads…

“Steady, Penda whispered to herself, gently does it, girl.
Don’t wiggle, don’t wobble, don’t try to rush it, girl.”


“Don’t slip, don’t slide, girl, don’t fall over,
Don’t let a single droplet drop on the sand…”


“Walk tall, walk steady, eyes on the horizon, girl,
Don’t even think about spilling any milk…”


Thanks to Miss Angel for organizing the event, and to all Elementary staff and students at ISO for making the morning so enjoyable.

And, of course, a huge thank you to Christopher Corr, whose mindmeldingly colourful illustrations really make the book come alive.

West Africa’s Giraffes

West African Giraffes

I’ll never forget seeing West African giraffes for the first time. They are so pale and elegant and otherworldly.

Couldn’t resist including a giraffes spread in my forthcoming picture book Don’t Spill the Milk, gloriously illustrated by Chris Corr.

When I first saw the West African giraffes back in 2004 there were only about 150 left. Now, according to this heartwarming video, there are more than double that number. A real conservation success story – long may it continue.

Don’t Spill the Milk sneak preview

Christopher Corr is making good progress on the illustrations for DON’T SPILL THE MILK. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Don't Spill the Milk

The Great River Niger was dark and wide
Penda took a ride in a stinky fishing boat
Don’t shiver, don’t quiver, don’t fall in the river, girl,
Keep it on your head girl – milk don’t float!

DON’T SPILL THE MILK is the rap-inspired story of Penda, a young girl taking a calabash of milk to her goat-herding father. The journey is long and treacherous. Will Penda deliver the milk safely?